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Thursday, October 07, 2010

Oregon's Fresh Hop Beers

Following up on yesterday's surprisingly popular description of hop varieties, I will localize thing for the variety of fresh hop beers available this year in Oregon. The Brewers Guild has released a full list of 58 different beers from 36 breweries (that's counting the 16 Thundercones from sixteen different McMenamins, as one beer).

Not all fresh hops are created equally. Some really sing when their fresh, and some ... don't. Every year, this is reflected in greater reliance on just a few types of hops. Over half the beers employ just four varieties: Cascade, Centennial, Crystal, and Nuggets. (The preponderance is shifted massively if you include the 16 McMenamins, which used Cascades.) This reconciles with my own experience--these hops have been used reliably in a number of fan faves over the past few years. Last year, I thought Chinooks acquitted themselves nicely, too--but only two beers use them in 2010.

In any case, below is a list of beers divided by hop type, and just to be comprehensive, I'll include the hop description from yesterday's post. A bit redundant, I'll admit, but I didn't have the list of beers when I posted yesterday--and I'll put it beneath a "jump" so you don't have to see the same long list. Consider it a "clip 'n save" opportunity.

Beer Valley Black Flag Imperial Stout.
  • History. A super-high alpha hop with principally Zeus and Nugget parentage released by SS Steiner in 2006.
  • Flavor/Aroma. Not much available on this new hop, which is described in generic terms as "fruity" and "floral." (alpha acid: 14-17%% / beta acid: 3-5%. Total oils 1.6 - 2.4 ml.)

Click to expand and continue reading...


  1. It makes me wonder how much of the decision comes down to flavor of the hops vs. harvest time. Just like every other seasonal beer, it seems breweries want to be the first on the market with their fresh hop creations, and using the early harvest varieties like First Gold and Crystal can give you a 7-14 day jump on someone who's waiting on the Chinooks.

    Just some food for thought as you continue to analyze all this.

  2. Feeling blue Jeff? Man that is a hard pie chart to read, wait, was Cascade steel blue or sea blue?, or was that faded navy?, no that was Nugget, I think Centennial was either light denim, or Nantucket blue.

  3. Very nice list! Thanks for the effort in putting that together. I am still looking for a lot of those that are bottled. Cheers!

  4. Chris, that's an interesting point. My guess is that a tasty beer is far preferable to an early one, so breweries weight accordingly--but who knows?

    On the other hand, the Magnums were being harvested really early on, and no one used those, so at least SOME thought to type makes the equation.

    Derek, I'm colorblind, and so I default to a palate I know everyone can see as easily (or badly). Given that the list and the slices go in order, and given that you're a very smart guy, I assume you cracked the nut.

    But to all you stinkin' color-seers, I say, tough Nuggets.