Despite the wildfires smoking Oregon out right now, fresh hop season is upon us once again! This really hit home for me in the past week, in part because I got to travel over to Goschie Farms to pick up fresh hops for a Deschutes Brewery project, but also because my own (yard) hops are ready to pick and last weekend I brewed up a batch of fresh hop pale ale.
Not to mention, the fresh hop beers are starting to roll out from various breweries, and many of the upcoming festivals have been announced or are on the calendar.
I love fresh hop season. The beers, when fresh (both as in hops and just-released, not stale) can be amazing examples of how this amazing flowering spice component can express itself, as well as departing from its typical characteristics. In my opinion the best examples of these beers not only taste “fresh” but are vibrant, bright and green, with a fresh-cut-grass-like chlorophyll character (but not vegetal). They should not taste like your typically hopped beer. You can approximate something like this by plucking a fresh hop flower or two off the bine and dropping it directly into the glass of your favorite pale ale or IPA. I do this every year.
Unfortunately no one in Bend has yet released a fresh hop ale, but there are a few out there, including:
- Hopworks in Portland, releasing what may well be the first last Friday: “Imperial Cascadian Dark Ale brewed with fresh Centennial hops that we will harvest at Goschie Farms in the Willamette Valley during the 2017 Total Eclipse.” I’m pretty sure they cold-conditioned an already-brewed beer with these hops in order to get the beer out that fast!
- Level Beer and Baerlic Brewing, both also in Portland, both had fresh hop beers on tap yesterday, and Baerlic has another release tomorrow.
- Lompoc Brewing and Base Camp (also Portland—starting to see a trend here!) each released fresh hop beers today.
Not coincidentally, most of these releases are brewed with Centennial hops. Those are the variety which tends to be ready to harvest first and usually comprise the first wave of fresh hop releases. (My own homegrown hops aren’t Centennials. I have two hop plants: the first I believe is either Cascade or Willamette, and the other I know for sure is Santiam. Both are ready now.)
While I’m anxiously waiting for the first local fresh hop beers to drop, here’s a rundown of the upcoming fresh hop festivals that I could initially find online:
- Portland Fresh Hop Pop-Up Beer Fest – September 20 – 24
“A pop-up oudoor covered beer garden featuring daily tappings of the freshest beer of the season from September 20 – 24th at 7th & E. Burnside, Portland, OR. The Portland Fresh Hop Pop-Up Beer Fest is the best way to enjoy the bounty of the season by collecting the freshest brewed Fresh Hop beers from the pacific northwest into one place. This 5-day outdoor beer garden features a covered tent, food specials, daily tappings and fire pits. Plus there is no cover charge to get in and new beers daily!”
- Hood River Hops Fest –
September 23Rescheduled to October 7 due to Eagle Creek Fire
“Hood River County is surrounded by world-renowned hop-growing regions, and since 2003 brewers have gathered each September in downtown Hood River to share their fresh-hop beer creations. The family friendly event features a variety of food vendors, over 50 breweries with over 75 fresh hop beers, rocking live music, and an awesome collectable mug. Mark your calendars this is a festival not to be missed!”
Cost: $15 (mug and five tokens)
- Long Island Fresh Hop Fest – September 23
“On September 23rd, come join some of Long Island’s finest breweries, at LI Hops (located at Plant Connection 5873 Sound Avenue, Riverhead NY), where you’ll be able to taste versions of fresh hop beers alongside the traditional version of the same beer. These fresh hop infused beers are special limited-edition versions of your favorite local beers–many of which are not available to the general public. Brewers will be there to explain how their creations came to life, and how they chose what beers to fresh hop. You’ll also be able to try local pumpkin ales, oktoberfests and a variety of other styles.”
Cost: $40-50 (I think unlimited sampling)
- Portland Fresh Hops Beer Fest – September 29 and 30
“The Portland Fresh Hops Fest, a celebration of the Oregon hop harvest that annually takes place between mid-August and mid-September, features more than 60 Oregon craft beers made with hops freshly picked off the vine and used within hours of harvesting. The 14th annual event will take place Sept. 29 through 30 at Oaks Amusement Park, 7805 SE Oaks Park Way. Hours are 5pm to 9pm on Friday and 12pm to 8pm on Saturday.”
Cost: $20 (glass and eight tickets)
- Sisters Fresh Hop Fest – September 30
“Join us for the 8th Annual Sisters Fresh Hop Festival! This years’ festival is brought to you by Three Creeks Brewing Company, American Cancer Society and The Central Oregon Brewers Guild. The event will feature 24 Oregon breweries and will be held in Village Green Park in beautiful Sisters, OR.”
Cost: $15 (pint glass and five tokens)
- Yakima Fresh Hop Ale Festival – September 30
“In 2017, we will welcome 54 breweries from throughout the Pacific Northwest and beyond, pouring more than one hundred beers for you to try. There will also be special releases being poured on the roaming beer bike, as well as some surprise guests in the VIP tent!”
Cost: $45 (pint glass and ??? (maybe unlimited pours? I don’t know))
- Vancouver Fresh Hop Festival – September 30
“The Fresh Hop Festival returns to find 25 fresh hop beers on tap for this special style found only once a year immediately after hop harvest. Meet the brewers and enjoy the beautiful view of the Columbia River from the Vancouver Landing. Space is limited to 1,600 ticket holders and tickets available online only.”
Cost: $15 (pint glass and eight tokens)
- BC Hop Fest 2017 – September 30
“Canada’s ONLY farm based Fresh Beer Festival and will be held once again September 30th, 2017 on the fertile Sumas Prairie in Abbotsford B.C. at 1905 Cole Road where sun, water, and gentle breezes contribute to one of the best hop growing environments in the Pacific Northwest. Join us as we celebrate the hop harvest, the resurgence of BC’s hop growing industry and fresh hopped beer produced by many spectacular BC craft breweries!”
Cost: $33.25 CAD (glass and three tokens)
- Springfield Fresh Hop Fest – October 6
“A celebration of the recent hop harvest with 20 Oregon craft breweries and cider & mead makers showcasing hops in all their bitter glory with specialty releases. The Springfield Fresh Hop Festival will be from 3 – 10 pm @ Sprout!, at the corner of 4th and A streets in downtown Springfield, just two blocks from the bus station. Admission is $12 for a special event glass and three taster tickets. Live music & great food from local food vendors will make for a fun-filled day. The Sprout building is an all ages venue.”
- St. Paul Fresh Hop Fest – October 14
“Join us at the Jaycee Bullpen for the 5th Annual St. Paul Fresh Hop Festival. Gather around a big-screen TV for college football, and enjoy delicious food, beer and hard cider. Dozens of acclaimed fresh-hopped craft beers and hard ciders will be flowing. Upon arrival at the festival, your cost of admission will grant you 5 drink tickets and a plastic St. Paul Fresh Hop Fest mug. 1 ticket may be exchanged for a sample of beer or hard cider. 3 tickets may be exchanged for a glass of beer. Additional tickets may be purchased for $1 apiece.”
- Fresh Hop Fest & Fall Beer Showcase (Minnesota) – October 14
“Join us for amazing beers and ciders, live music, and great food at this year’s Fresh Hop Fest & Fall Beer Showcase! 30 taps from Minnesota and around the country – Fresh Hop, Oktoberfest, Pumpkin, Wood-Aged and other seasonal beers, plus Minnesota ciders!”
Cost: $40 (unlimited sampling)
- Fresh Hops on the Pond – October 14
“It’s the most wonderful time of the year- Fresh Hops season!! We’re throwing a huge party on our lawn with all of your favorite local Bend breweries to sample their fresh hopped brew. It’s a one-stop shop to taste the best of bend- Crux Fermentation Project GoodLife Brewing 10 Barrel Brewing Company McMenamins Old St. Francis School Deschutes Brewery Bend Public House Silver Moon Brewing Sunriver Brewing Co. – Galveston Pub will all be there! We’ll be pouring & partying at the all day festival with live music throughout. Kids & dogs welcome- you know it!”
- Farm to Face Harvest Fest – October 14
“We are pleased to announce our Farm to Face Fresh Hop and Harvest Party on Saturday 14th of October! From 12-8pm you will be able to come down and enjoy our over 20 Fresh Hop beers as well as ciders and food from other local vendors. You can buy tickets at <gilgameshbrewing.com/f2f> We can’t wait to see all of you there!”
And I’m sure there will be others, smaller ones and individual brewery events as well. For instance, Bend Brewing Company here in town is likely lining one up for the first or second weekend in October—which will feature the first (as far as I know) fresh hop beers every brewed by BBC.
It’s a great time of year! And if you know of other fresh hop events coming up, let me know (or post a comment)!