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Thursday, October 30, 2014

Fresh Hops, Neomexicanus Hops, and No Hops

Hot on the heels of a bottled Lagunitas fresh hop beer, two from Deschutes arrived at Casa Beervana, Chasin' Freshies (still the worst name in beer!) and Hop Trip--and two more chances to disprove my skepticism that fresh hop flavor can be bottled. 

(As a side note, Chasin' Freshies plays a prominent role in my skepticism.  One recent year, I was down at Deschutes sampling fresh hop beers, and Chasin' Freshies was on tap.  It was the first year they made it, and I assumed it was just one of the many one-offs they do during fresh hop season.  It was one of the best examples I'd ever had, though, and so imprinted itself on my brain.  A couple hours later, I arrived home and found a bottle of the same beer waiting for me.  That Chasin' Freshies was nothing like the beer served on tap and yet was, presumably, as fresh as the brewery could make it.)  (As a side note to the side note, I'll add that I've only previously had one fresh hop beer worth a damn--BridgePort Hop Harvest.) 

So back to Deschutes' 2014 bottled fresh hop offerings.  Did they manage to bottle the flavor?  Must I revise the theory?  Our findings are inconclusive: Chasin' Freshies (22 oz bottle) was superlative.  Fully alive and green and fresh-hoppy.  Hop trip (12 oz bottle) was a dud--very little hop character at all, and therefore a sweetly malty soup with no zip.  My advice: if you want the experience of fresh hop, get on down to your favorite grocer, buy a 22 of Chasin' Freshies and drink it tonight.  You might even risk waiting until tomorrow, as you hand out chocolate to small fiends.  I wouldn't wait longer than that.  Skip the Hop Trip.

The Neomexicanus Hops Are In
Stan Hieronymus has an update on some monk-grown native hops that will soon be available to the home beermaker.  Step lively if you want to get in on the action.

In Lieu of Hops
Finally, let me direct your attention to my latest post over at All About Beer.  Today's offering involves Eric Steen's project Beers Made By Walking, wherein Eric and brewers go on a hike and forage ingredients to use in a beer, along with my consideration of which of those ingredients seem like candidates for regular use. It starts:
Artemisia douglasiana, also known as California mugwort, grows along stream banks up and down the West Coast. Dried and—particularly—burned, it has a distinctive aroma similar to another plant famous in the region, Cannabis sativa. Perhaps for this reason, it creates a pungent, hop-like quality when added to the conditioning tank of a light ale. The flavor is anything but subtle; it is sticky and musky and surprisingly bitter, reminiscent of some of the more exotic modern hops in vogue. I discovered it in a gluten-free beer by Portland’s Ground Breaker Brewing, the result of a project called Beers Made By Walking in which brewers go out and forage for local ingredients they later use in a beer.
Go read the whole thing.  (Please!)  


  1. My thoughts exactly on Hop Trip! ...last year I loved it at the Portland brewpub, but this year's seems to have more caramel malt & as you say, very little hop character of any kind (sampled on tap at Pine Box in Seattle) my experience, the first major fail by Deschutes on a fresh hop beer. Sorry I missed The Mutt & Fresh Hop Mirror Pond this year, but can't wait to try the Lagunitas Born Yesterday--it doesn't seem to have arrived yet in Seattle, on tap or in bottles... thanks for the heads-up! ;)

  2. Odd about your experience with bottled Hop Trip; I'm drinking one right now and I'm finding spicy green hops a-plenty, giving it a bright, crisp flavor.

    Chasin' Freshies is great this year---though I've only had the draft version so far. I have not yet opened my bottle.

    The Deschutes Bend Pub had a Fresh Hop Kolsch that was as good as the Chasin' Freshies, I thought; made with Crystal hops, which have been really exceptional this year, in my opinion.

    And Jeff--- you wrote, "I've only previously had one fresh hop beer worth a damn"--- in all these years of fresh hop beers, is that actually how you feel? Or did you mean, of the bottled versions?