- Liberty (Upright Fresh Hop of Bel Air). Surprisingly sharp hopping. The saison style can tolerate a little bitterness, and it worked well here. A fairly clean bitter note without a lot of ornamentation--sort of like dried Crystal hops.
- Amarillo (Laurelwood Hop Bale Pale). One of the two best beers I tried. The Amarillo had much of the quality as the '07 Amarillo Lupulin--tropical fruit notes, lush and exotic. Shiny, citrusy, radiant. A bit more bitter than I recall Full Sail's being, but this was nice, too.
- Santiam (Cascade Lakes Harvest). A sweet hop--a honey note and also a grassy quality.
- Brewer's Gold (Double Mountain Killer Green). Fresh hop beers are generally soft and herbal--not this one. It lived up to its name with an aggressively bitter character. Sharp, clear, slightly tangy. (Worth noting that the DM boys threw in a few other hops--Simcoe, Warrior, Summit--to round the character out. Cheating? Your call.)
- Hallertauer (Rock Bottom Octoberfist). The misfire. It both smelled and tasted "meaty," like the beer had been made with beef bullion. It tended just a bit to sour, and Sally described the note as "sauerbraten." I've noticed that fresh hopped lagers rarely work, so I don't know if that's at issue here, but it was decidedly not a good hop note.
- Nugget (Ninkasi Nugg E Fresh). A surprisingly lightly-hopped beer from Ninkasi (intentional?). It was soft, gentle, and herbal. The hop showed lots of promise, but I'd like to see a few more the next time.
- Chinook (Walking Man Hopalong IPA). The other contender for tastiest hop. Dried Chinooks are impressive--gritty, sharp, peppery, and sometimes grinding in their bitterness. Wet, they were also sharp, but the sharp edges were gone. They were fuller and greener. Of all the hops, it seemed the most saturated with green hoppiness.
- Summit (Widmer Hopturnal Emission). The Summits were fruity and sweet, a bit like Juicy Fruit gum, with very little of their strongly characteristic orange/tangerine note.
To reiterate one point, it's worth noting that every beer I tried (save Octoberfist) had very clear, clean hop notes. In past years, the hops often expressed a muddy lack of clarity. This year they were distinct presences. If you missed the Hood River edition, you have two more chances:
Oaks Park Amusement Park
7805 SE Oaks Park Way
Eugene, 10/17/2009Go forth and taste!
948 Olive St.