The Brew Site

Fresh hop season wrap up

Fresh hop season is winding down for another year, and while there are still plenty of fresh hop beers on the shelves to enjoy, I thought I’d write a wrap-up post on the events attended and beers drank.

The Sisters Fresh Hop Festival was once again a good event that I wrote about here. The organizers do a good job of pulling together a big selection of fresh hop beers, and of the beers I had, my top beers (based on the ratings I gave them in Untappd) were: Fort George Fresh IPA, GoodLife 150 Hippies, Immersion Get Along Little Hoppies, Burnside Keller Couch, and Ordnance Citra Fresh RX.

The following week was Deschutes Brewery‘s release of Savin’ Freshies, which they partnered with the Native Fish Society on as a benefit beer. (That was the beer that I got to ride along to Goschie Farms to pick up hops for.) $1 from each pint sold of that beer benefits the NFS, and the night of the release party they had reps on hand to talk about what they do, and Deschutes raffled off a bunch of items as well. Here are some photos from that evening:

And then then week after that was Bend Brewing Company‘s Fresh Hops on the Pond event—their first fresh hop mini-fest, pouring a great selection of Central Oregon’s fresh hop beers. It was a well-attended first time event, and I was also happy to see BBC’s own first fresh hop beers this year!

Finally, here are some capsule reviews of several fresh hop beers that I drank at home:

Crux Fermentation Project – Dr. Jack Fresh Hop IPA

This was one of the beers I received from Crux recently. This particular can (which was canned on September 19) I found to be lacking a bit—the fresh hop character had already fallen back, revealing a slightly sweet maltiness with a touch of crystal malt and a solid pale malt backbone. Now, I know this beer wasn’t as fresh as it could have been because I’d just had a can a week or two earlier, and it was bright and vibrant at that time. So, a good lesson that fresh hop beers should be consumed as fresh as possible!

In general though, there was some nice aromas to be found here, with fresh cut grass and floral notes, and definitely an aroma that reminded me of lamb’s quarter.

Crux – Crystal Zwickle Fresh Hop Pale Ale

Now this one was fresher (canned on September 25) and quite nice! Aromatically it had a bright green character with a light savory and sweaty character, and a fresh vegetal note that was appetizing; possibly squash blossoms?

Flavor-wise, it was bright and savory with a bit of lemon peel. Zesty, with a touch of white pepper spice. A leafy impression with a clean and very slightly sweet graininess. At 6% it’s a bit high in alcohol to be considered truly sessionable but you definitely get that impression as it was nicely, easily drinkable. Well done.

Deschutes Brewery Hop Trip

There’s not a lot that has to be said about Hop Trip, one of the older fresh hop pale ales on the market. (“Older” as in longetivity over the years, not age on the shelf.) The brewery sent me this bottle recently as well, and it did not disappoint.

Freshly picked and crushed vegetal greens dominate the aroma, and actually reminded me of lamb’s quarter again. A sweaty-savory note is a bit spicy, possibly light horseradish, and the malt is clean and carries a mild caramel note.

On the tongue there are fresh dandelion greens and/or arugula with a bitterness up front that dissipates into juicy green pepper. Pleasantly sweet and cracker malt finishes with a bit of residual sweetness at the back. This beer is simply a pleasure to drink.

Crux Way Two Fresh, Fresh Hop Imperial IPA

This one’s a bit of a monster at 9.9% abv. Brewed with fresh Simcoe and Mosaic hops, there is a lot going on all around in this beer. In the smell there is a punch of savory white pepper, prickly pear cactus fruit, and green onion. Fresh greens, hints of orange zest (marmalade), earth (forest floor), floral fruitiness.

In taste it’s big and sweet with a punch—a combination of dark fruit juice (figs, prunes, dates) and fresh spinach which sounds like a very odd smoothie combo. It might sound weird, but was actually quite nice and there is a candy-like note. It also goes a little saison-peppery, with floral nectar. The sweet, candy note rears up in the finish to almost go cloying. A fun one to drink, but watch that alcohol level.

Fremont Brewing Field to Ferment (Citra)

Out of Seattle comes this third installment in Fremont’s F-to-F series (the first two being Centennial and Amarillo). Fremont does a great job with their fresh hop beers and this one was a fun one (and one of the very few Citra hopped beers I’ve had this year).

The nose is fresh cut grass hop candy with stone fruit (plums) and candied grapefruit peel. Herbal and a touch catty (tomato plant), and bright.

Drinking, it starts a bit fruity and a bitter character not unlike chewing on a fresh hop cone (yes, I have done that)—spicy, fresh, bitter, herbal. A bit of citrus is followed by a clear note of fresh herbs, through (perhaps ironically) I couldn’t identify which herb that might be. It’s clean and tasty, with a malt base that stays out of the way of the hops. Recommended! (If you can still find it fresh!)