What do Roots and Astoria's Fort George have in common? Within the realm of fresh hop beers, this: they both used home-grown organic hops. Fort George used an unspecified variety, while Roots went with Nuggets and Cascades. Add this to the similarities--neither one had that "decomposition" note I find occasionally off-putting.
Fort George Cohoperative
This was a true amber color--bright and lustruous, like the stone. I got a candy-sweet aroma with the tiniest bit of hop, slightly citrus, slightly spicy. It was what I'd call a "normal" hop aroma--nothing funky or unidentifiably herbal. On the palate, the hops come through sharply, and in a standard citrus-bitter spectrum I recognized. Unfortunately, there was something a bit grinding on the tongue. I wonder if it didn't come from the tannins in the hops--sometimes if you get some stems or leaves in there, that's a problem. Or perhaps it was a husky note from crystal malt. In either case, it diminished the beer. I'd rate it between a decent outing and winner.
In the dim light of the pub, this beer looked amber-red and was slightly hazy. The aroma was a straight hop note, mostly citrus, along with the usual assortment of other weird smells--herbs, roots, flowers--that you expect in a fresh hop beer. The base beer uses a wonderful recipe and produces a round, warm malt bouyed by the lush, layered hopping--pretty close to an ESB in terms of style. It's one of the bitter fresh hop beers, but as with others I've tried, the bitterness doesn't produce a clear, bell-like note. It's swaddled in softer, herbal flavors. The minor flavor notes are hard to identify, but Sally suggests "peanut." Okay.
I have only had six of the fresh hop beers so far this year (missed the Hood River Tastival, and will likely miss Portland's too), but so far, this is the pick of the litter. Definitely a winner. Worth tracking: Nugget and Cascade hops were used in this beer. We'll see if these produce good fresh-hop ales. Laurelwood's also got a Nugget-hopped fresh hop beer.
Picture credit: Nugget hops from Laurelwood, shot by Matt at Portlandbeer.org.