Fresh Hop Tastivals

It’s that harvest time of year again, when the fresh hop beers are beginning to show up, and the Oregon Brewers Guild is teaming up with Oregon Bounty again to bring us the Fresh Hop Beer "Tastivals." I guess they must have been a hit last year, because this time around I got notices from two different PR people about them.

First, the shorter note that came in via the contact form:

The Fresh Hop Beer "Tastivals," produced by the Oregon Brewers Guild, will highlight the seasonal beers created with fresh hops from the September harvest instead of traditional dried hops. This year’s Tastivals will feature samples of more than 20 beers from across the state crafted using just-picked hops. Admission is free; glasses are $5 and sample tastes are $1.

  • Oct. 4 – Downtown Hood River, Noon – 9 p.m.
  • Oct. 18 – Hopworks Urban Brewery, Portland, Noon – 9 p.m.
  • Oct. 25 – Ninkasi Brewing Company, Eugene, Noon – 9 p.m.

Those dates are all Saturdays, by the way—mark your calendars.

But wait! There’s more! I received a full-length press release from Oregon beer PR person extraordinaire, Chris Crabb, which contains more detail and more background:

Beer lovers reap the benefits of Oregon’s fall hop harvest at Oregon Bounty’s Fresh Hop Beer Tastivals

Hopheads, rejoice! The autumn air is turning crisp, heralding the annual harvest of hops, and with it, the celebration of fresh hop beers by Oregon’s famed craft brewers. Oregon Bounty and the Oregon Brewers Guild have collaborated to host a statewide series of three Fresh Hop Beer “Tastivals,” each featuring more than 20 original fresh hop beers from many of Oregon’s top craft breweries.

The Oregon Bounty Fresh Hop Beer Tastivals will take place Oct. 4 at the Hood River Hops Fest, located between 5th and 7th and Cascade and Columbia in downtown Hood River; Oct. 18 at Hopworks Urban Brewery, 2944 SE Powell Blvd. in Portland; and Oct. 25 at Ninkasi Brewing Co., 272 Van Buren St. in Eugene. Admission to the events is free; glasses/mugs cost $5, and are required for tasting beer. Tastes of the individual beers are $1 each. Hours are Noon to 9 p.m. at all three festivals.

The Hood River Tastival is part of the Hood River Hops Fest, an expanded event that has built up over the last five years. This particular event also boasts food, nearly 20 arts and crafts vendors, a selection of Columbia River Gorge wines, additional beers from local craft breweries, a children’s play area, and live music. The latter Portland and Eugene Tastivals are produced by the Oregon Brewers Guild.

What exactly is a fresh hop beer? Beer is flavored with hops, cone-shaped flowers that imbue the drink with its bitterness, aroma and essence. Generally, hops are kiln-dried to reduce their moisture content, a process that strips the plant of its essential oils; then packed tightly into bales for storage and shipping, a method that crushes the cones, further diminishing the plant’s woodsy, grassy character. With fresh hops beers, whole hop cones are picked straight off the vine, then trucked to the brewery and added directly to the brew kettle within hours of harvesting. The beer styles produced vary, but the results remain the same: Earthy beers that are redolent with intense herbal, floral and citric aromas and a pleasing bitterness.

“Using dried hops is like using dried spices in cooking, whereas using fresh hops is like going out to your garden and picking fresh herbs,” explained Brian Butenschoen, executive director for the Oregon Brewers Guild. “Fresh hops have a more intense and delicate character to them that really expresses itself in the beer.”

At least 75 of the state’s breweries lie within 100 miles of hop fields, and the annual harvest presents the perfect opportunity for Oregon brewers to demonstrate their unique proximity to one of America’s premiere hop growing regions. In support of this, the Oregon Brewers Guild is participating in the Great American Beer Festival (GABF)’s new “Guilds Pavilion,” pouring only fresh hop beers in its booth that will showcase Oregon’s breweries, beer and craft brewing community. The GABF takes place Oct. 9 through 11 in Denver.

Visit for more details on the Oregon Bounty Fresh Hop Tastivals and enter to win an Oregon Bounty Getaway.