Ah, Hop Trip, Deschutes Brewery‘s flagship fresh hop ale. My third year reviewing it, and (I think) the third year it’s been brewed—this makes it especially interesting because I can track how it has evolved over time. The first year (2005) it was strongly hopped and green and potent—not unlike many of the other wet hops ales being brewed elsewhere. The thing is, anybody can (and does) make a super-hopped beer.
Last year, things changed with Hop Trip; they passed on the intensely bitter hopping of the first batch and turned out something much softer, more floral and herbal, more subtle.
It wasn’t a fluke; this year’s version is in much the same vein, and I’m quite sure it’s intentional on Deschutes’ part. It’s no hop bomb; it’s subtle, accessible, fresh, and clean, easy to drink and enjoyable. Is it the hops? They use Crystal hops, plucked fresh from the vine from Sodbuster Farms near Salem. Crystal is known for being a spicy (cinnamon) cousin of the Hallertauer hop family, though I didn’t get much "spicy" from this… it could be interesting to measure the various differences in wet hops versus their "usual" dry presentation.
Appearance: Clear, nicely copper-colored brew with a generous light tan head.
Smell: Woody, twiggy hops, lots of resin, with enjoyable green, grassy notes.
Taste: Very hoppy yet not really bitter—it’s like a lot of the floral hop character is coming through instead—a vegetable grassy quality that’s not unpleasing. Malt is biscuity, light, and mild. Some powdery hop bitterness coats the back of the mouth.
Mouthfeel: Surprisingly light-bodied and easy drinking—smooth, almost soft. Very sessionable (5.5% alcohol).
Overall: It’s a winner, and shows a good deal more restraint and experience than many, I think.
It’s on BeerAdvocate, but they have it (oddly) listed as retired; I’ll have to send them an email and see about fixing that. Anyway, the average score is 4.08 out of 5. On RateBeer, it scores 3.65 and is in their 91st percentile.