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Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Trends of the Year: 1) Oregon Fresh Hops

The use of fresh hops was far from original in 2008--it was probably in 2005 or 2006 that more than a random brewery or two started to experiment with these and we saw the emergence of a trend. But this year, Oregon made a pretty decent stab at establishing itself as the main purveyor of fresh hop ales. At this year's GABF, Oregon got national attention for pouring ten fresh-hop beers.

It makes sense. With so many breweries so close to hop fields, no other state can touch Oregon. Nearly every Oregon brewery is within 100 miles of a hop field, something even Washington, which produces more hops, can claim. (Seattle's 140 miles from Yakima.) As a result, we had more than 4o beers from nearly 30 breweries making a version. Call this the home-field advantage.

Other, non-Oregon breweries are putting in hop fields, and over time this will become more of a national phenomenon. But for the moment, no region is so poised as Beervana (and the greater Northwest) to seize the mantle as the premier producer of fresh hop beers, ala the Beaujolais region of France. The first codification of this seasonal tradition began last year with the roving fresh-hop "Tastivals," and perhaps we'll have a permanent, regular fest to celebrate the harvest in the future. (Yakima has already established one; but wouldn't you rather go to to Corvallis or Eugene?)*

A trend to watch and nurture--and reason 2702 that this is indeed Beervana.

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[Update] *Sometimes bloggers get things very wrong, and because they're flying without a net (ie, editors), they go live with very wrong info. As GG pointed out in comments below, Hood River has hosted a fresh hop fest for five years. I'm an eejit.

2 comments:

GG said...

I believe this was actually the 5th year for the fresh hop tastival, it's just been moved around every year.

Jeff Alworth said...

Is that true? I know Hood River had a fest, but was it the same as the rotating Tastival? More importantly, why did I forget Hood River's?

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