This was radical. At the time, I recall hearing a lot of derision about this practice; fresh hops were reputed to lead to off-flavors and "gasiness." A gimmick, said the critics. Grant, who spent the last twenty years of his life proving critics wrong, proved to be the visionary. Now there is such love of fresh hops among breweries that harvest ales are pretty much de rigeuer; they are, as Bert Grant described them back in the day, the brewing world's Beaujolais Nouveau. Celebrating what has become a major phenomenon, the Oregon Brewers Guild and Oregon Bounty are hosting a series of tastings of 30 different fresh-hop beers in various places across the state. Thirty!
If you haven't tasted a fresh-hopped beer, you have missed a unique experience. Brewing with wet hops produces a far greener, earthier, herbal quality than traditional hopping. Not only do the hops dramatically change the flavor of the beer, they change recipes, too--alpha acids are converted unpredictably, so brewers aren't ever sure how a beer will turn out (even if the same varieties of hops are used year to year). For me, this is a wonderful old-world element. What results is unique and limited--breweries can never exactly replicate the flavor. These beers are also as perishable as the the freshly-picked hops--you have to drink them while they're fresh to experience before the delicate flavors fade. I regard this as pretty much a non-negotiable must-see event. If you love beers, don't miss it.
Our man in the middle, John Foyston, has the impressive list of breweries:
Amnesia ________Cascades _____Pale Ale __Fresh Dusty Trail
BJ's ___________Willamettes __Pilsner ___Northwest Pils
Bridgeport _____Centennial ___IPA _______Hop Harvest Ale
Calapooia ______Nugget _______Rye Ale ___Fresh Hop Rye
Deschutes ______Perle ___________________Mother of Perle
Deschutes ______Nugget __________________The Golden Nugget
Deschutes ______Crystals _____Pale Ale __Hop Trip
Full Sail ______Cascades _____Pale Ale __Lupulin Ale
Golden Valley __Goldings _____Pale Ale __Golen Pale
Karlsson _______Goldings/Magnum___IPA ___Twisted Sister
Karlsson _______Multi Hop ____Pale Ale __Virgin Sister
Laurelwood _____Tettnanger ___Kolsch ____Fresh Hop Kolsch
Lucky Lab ______Cascades _____Pale Ale __Cascade Harvest
Lucky Lab ______Nugget _______IPA _______Golden Nugget
Lucky Lab ______Multi Hop _______________Mutt The Mutt
New Old Lompoc _Crystals _____Pils_______Crystal Missile
New Old Lompoc _Crystals _____Harvest ___Harvest Moon
Mia & Pia's ____Multi Hop ____IPA _______Fresh Hop Madness
Ninkasi ________Liberty _________________Harvest Fresh
Oregon Trail ___Multi Hop ____IPA _______Hop Doctor
Pelican ________Sterling _____Pils_______Elemental Ale
Philadelphia's _Nugget _______Amber _____Fresh Hop ESB
Raccoon Lodge __Cascades _____Harvest ___Hop Harvest Ale
Rock Bottom ____Perle ________Pilsner ___Perle Pilsner
Rogue __________Centennial ___IPA _______Hop Heaven
Standing Stone _Centennial ___Amber _____Tri-Centennial
Widmer__________Sterling _____Lager_____ Sterling Pilsner
Here's the schedule:
Hood RiverSee you there!
Noon-9 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 6; part of the Hood River Hops Fest in city parking lot at Columbia and Fifth streets.
Noon-9 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 13, McMenamins Edgefield, 2126 S.W. Halsey St., Troutdale
Noon-9 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 20, Ninkasi Brewing, 272 Van Buren St.
Noon-7 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 27, Deschutes Brewery, 901 S.W. Simpson Ave.
Admission is free at all tasting events; glasses are $5; individual tastes are $1, full pour $4.