Tuesday, October 02, 2007

More on "Fresh Hop" Beers

More guest blogging from my Portland pal (see earlier post):

Saturday evening the missus and I were downtown and happened into the bar at Higgins, and found that their cask beer was Full Sail's fresh hop ale — guessing it's the one they call Lupulin Ale.  Perfect.  This is the flavor I was looking for:  a little sweet, hoppy and flowery with a little extra green flavor.  A little flat and not-too-cold from the cask, just beautiful.  The best one I've had this year, and I'll have to hit it a few more times before I'm satisfied.

Sunday I convinced the neighbors to join me at the Lucky Lab, where they have The Mutt on tap, named after the 4 different varieties of fresh hops. It was interesting, a little bit tart like a rye or even some wheat beers, but we found it disappointing. Not much flavor, so you had to concentrate really hard to pick up the fresh hop aroma. I notice they have a couple other varieties they will show at the festival, so I'm holding out hope that one of those will redeem the Lab.

Monday I pounced on the New Old Lompoc and was surprised to find that they were pouring two different fresh hop beers. The Star of India IPA was a winner — strong hops, but with that nice grassy flavor. The other one was a dark, strong (7.8%) beer called Harvest Man, which they described as an Alt. It was delicious, especially after it warmed up a little, but I felt like the fresh hops were wasted on such a big beer. There was just so much to it, that you wouldn't notice the herbal notes unless you already knew they were there. As Joe Walsh said, I can't complain but sometimes I still do.

Tuesday we went for lunch to the Laurelwood on the east side, and tried their fresh hop Extra Pale. Good stuff, but didn't have the green herbal flavor I was looking for. Might have been because it had a ton of hops in it; if you're a hop-head you won't be disappointed to drink one. It seemed similar to Bridgeport's offering -- high quality but lacking a little pizazz.

Speaking of Bridgeport, I really have to sit down with a pint of theirs, since my small sample didn't do it justice. But I was thwarted Friday evening when I tried to pick up a half-gallon of the Bridgeport fresh hop ale at the Bridgeport pub on Hawthorne. A gal who looked like she might be the pub manager said their "policy" is to only fill their own growlers (I had an unmarked mason jar). Stupid policy — here's a guy who wants to spend $10 and tip the bartender, and you don't even have to wash a glass or wipe a table. They lost more than $10 business on that one, because I'll skip a few lunches after that.

I'll see if I can keep my streak going a little longer -- that's 8 different fresh-hop beers in 7 days. If I run out of new ones to try, I can always drink up more Full Sail.

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