Hop Trip (2011)

Deschutes Hop TripI like the 12-ounce bottles of Deschutes Brewery’s Hop Trip that are out this year (recall that Deschutes sent me three); being able to grab a standard-sized bottled rather than a bomber gives it a more casual air, and I’d rather have a six-pack than a single big bottle or two because with something like this you may not only want to drink just one.

As far as I’m concerned Hop Trip is one of the best fresh hop ales around, and certainly one of the best being bottled (there are many, even brewed by Deschutes themselves, that are draft only). I looked over last year’s review to get a sense of how it changed, because off the top of my head I think this year’s version is better, more vibrant somehow. (Chalk that up to the seasonal variations in hops among other things.) There are differences.

Although in appearance they are nearly exactly the same; if anything last year’s beer was a touch darker with more yellow-tan color in the foam. Otherwise it’s true to form, but this year’s is a standout on fragrance: it’s full of catty hops—not as catty as some to be sure, but you definitely get it—and behind that you get a flossy cotton-candy sweetness. It’s nicely pungent as it develops, almost “sweaty” but in a good way.

On the tongue it’s jucy and hoppy and toasty, with an herbal, almost “culinary” bitterness (kind of like fresh basil, or maybe even oregano). It’s incredibly flavorful and drinkable, with a juicy soft presence and it just feels fresh. The maltiness is toast and bready and rich and back up the hops really well—a soft and appetizing canvas for the bright and floral hops to really pop.

And you want to drink more, and that’s all that really needs to be said, doesn’t it? Hop Trip is a remarkably dialed-in beer (having been developed and tinkered with for the past six years) and should not be passed up.

On BeerAdvocate, it scores an overall grade of A-. On RateBeer, it scores 3.64 out of 5 and is in their 97th percentile.