Tuesday, October 09, 2007

Fresh Hops, Chapter 3

More from our "Fresh Hops" correspondent in Portland:

My fresh hop streak is continuing, a new one each day, though I did have to resort to bottled beer a couple of times. That's OK, one of the bottles was a big winner, my second-favorite harvest beer this year.

Wednesday I boldly ventured into the chain brewpub,
Rock Bottom. The Hop Harvest beer there was drinkable, within the range of what I'm looking for. I almost had to report that their Hop Harvest was way off the mark, just a normal IPA, because when I asked for the fresh-hopbeer, I was served just a normal IPA. I guess there aren't enough beer geeks to fill all the wait-staff positions at big corporate operations.

Thursday I finally broke down and had to experiment with a bottle from
Hale's Brewing in Seattle, their O'Brien's Harvest Ale. Hale's usually has great stuff, and this was no exception. Lots of flavor — what do I taste there, charbroiled steak? No, I guess it's just a pretty dark, caramely malt, maybe some yeast flavor, and there just on top is the flowery fresh-hop. Very tasty, and I'll have it again, but this time of year I like the green hops to be the star of the show, not a supporting actor.

Friday I grabbed a
Geschwills Golden Ale at the Widmer Gasthaus. Uh oh, "golden ale," isn't that secret code for "if you don't like beer, you'll be able to choke this one down"? This was pretty bland, I didn't really get much of the fresh hop aroma. I was hoping for better.

Saturday was
Sierra Nevada Harvest Ale. It's in 6-packs, but I tried it on tap. A little bit of hop bitterness, but none of the exciting greenness I wanted. Put it in the same category as Widmer.

Hmmm … sounds like things are tapering off, have I already been through all the good ones? Luckily, Sunday's experiment restored my faith in the fresh-hop spirits. A bottle again, but a good one, 22 ounces of
Deschutes' Hop Trip. Of everything so far, this is second only to Full Sail in my opinion for nailing the style. Honey sweet, fresh flowery hops, Hop Trip was what I was looking for.

I'm going to try desperately to keep the streak going for 5 more days, then Saturday there is a "Fresh Hop Tastival" that will be the icing on the cake.

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