If I wanted water, I would have asked for water.


Saturday, September 29, 2007

Fresh Hop Festival

About ten or twelve years ago, Bert Grant, a beloved pioneer in the craft-beer movement, planted an acorn. In October, you should avail yourself of the opportunity to see how big the oak tree has become. In the mid-90s, he decided to take advantage of the vast wealth of hops that grew within a few miles of his brewery in Yakima (where well over half all domestic hops were grown at the time). He sent folks from the brewery out to the hop fields during the September harvest while he started prepping the mash tun. They gathered a batch of fresh hops, brought them back to the brewery, and within minutes of having been picked, were dumped into the boil.

This was radical. At the time, I recall hearing a lot of derision about this practice; fresh hops were reputed to lead to off-flavors and "gasiness." A gimmick, said the critics. Grant, who spent the last twenty years of his life proving critics wrong, proved to be the visionary. Now there is such love of fresh hops among breweries that harvest ales are pretty much de rigeuer; they are, as Bert Grant described them back in the day, the brewing world's Beaujolais Nouveau. Celebrating what has become a major phenomenon, the Oregon Brewers Guild and Oregon Bounty are hosting a series of tastings of 30 different fresh-hop beers in various places across the state. Thirty!

If you haven't tasted a fresh-hopped beer, you have missed a unique experience. Brewing with wet hops produces a far greener, earthier, herbal quality than traditional hopping. Not only do the hops dramatically change the flavor of the beer, they change recipes, too--alpha acids are converted unpredictably, so brewers aren't ever sure how a beer will turn out (even if the same varieties of hops are used year to year). For me, this is a wonderful old-world element. What results is unique and limited--breweries can never exactly replicate the flavor. These beers are also as perishable as the the freshly-picked hops--you have to drink them while they're fresh to experience before the delicate flavors fade. I regard this as pretty much a non-negotiable must-see event. If you love beers, don't miss it.

Our man in the middle, John Foyston, has the impressive list of breweries:

Brewery
________Hop(s)________Style______Name
Amnesia ________Cascades _____Pale Ale __Fresh Dusty Trail
BJ's
___________Willamettes __Pilsner ___Northwest Pils
Bridgeport
_____Centennial ___IPA _______Hop Harvest Ale
Calapooia
______Nugget _______Rye Ale ___Fresh Hop Rye
Deschutes
______Perle ___________________Mother of Perle
Deschutes
______Nugget __________________The Golden Nugget
Deschutes
______Crystals _____Pale Ale __Hop Trip
Full Sail
______Cascades _____Pale Ale __Lupulin Ale
Golden Valley
__Goldings _____Pale Ale __Golen Pale
Karlsson
_______Goldings/Magnum___IPA ___Twisted Sister
Karlsson
_______Multi Hop ____Pale Ale __Virgin Sister
Laurelwood
_____Tettnanger ___Kolsch ____Fresh Hop Kolsch
Lucky Lab
______Cascades _____Pale Ale __Cascade Harvest
Lucky Lab
______Nugget _______IPA _______Golden Nugget
Lucky Lab
______Multi Hop _______________Mutt The Mutt
New Old
Lompoc _Crystals _____Pils_______Crystal Missile
New Old Lompoc
_Crystals _____Harvest ___Harvest Moon
Mia & Pia's
____Multi Hop ____IPA _______Fresh Hop Madness
Ninkasi
________Liberty _________________Harvest Fresh
Oregon Trail
___Multi Hop ____IPA _______Hop Doctor
Pelican
________Sterling _____Pils_______Elemental Ale
Philadelphia's
_Nugget _______Amber _____Fresh Hop ESB
Raccoon Lodge
__Cascades _____Harvest ___Hop Harvest Ale
Rock Bottom
____Perle ________Pilsner ___Perle Pilsner
Rogue
__________Centennial ___IPA _______Hop Heaven
Standing Stone
_Centennial ___Amber _____Tri-Centennial
Widmer
__________Sterling _____Lager_____ Sterling Pilsner

Here's the schedule:
Hood River
Noon-9 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 6; part of the Hood River Hops Fest in city parking lot at Columbia and Fifth streets.

Portland
Noon-9 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 13, McMenamins Edgefield, 2126 S.W. Halsey St., Troutdale

Eugene
Noon-9 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 20, Ninkasi Brewing, 272 Van Buren St.

Bend
Noon-7 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 27, Deschutes Brewery, 901 S.W. Simpson Ave.

Admission is free at all tasting events; glasses are $5; individual tastes are $1, full pour $4.
See you there!

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