Monday, October 15, 2012
A Final Fresh Hop Tour
I have been negligent of fresh hops. So busy, in fact, that I let my own fresh hops wither on the vine. So it was that I took an opportunity last Wednesday night to do a little impromptu fresh hop tour with the Beerax himself.
We stated at the mecca of fresh hops: Descutes Portland Pub. Deschutes has arguably the most consistent success with fresh hops and they go all in, with no less than six fresh hop beers on tap that rotate continuously through the season. Jeff's favorite Fresh Hop Mirror Pond was no longer available, much to my dismay, and his other big rave, Chasin' Freshies, was (a week later) a bit too long in the tooth which says a lot about how ephemeral fresh hop beers are. They just don't last. Chasin' Freshies had lost that aromatic fresh hop flavor and, to me who is very sesnitive, just tasted like fusel alchohol. There was a fresh hop porter, which was actually quite nice, but not what punters are generally looking for in fresh hop season. Hop Trip was very good but my favorite by a long shot was Flagline which at 4% ABV is a wonderfully tasty sessionable fresh hop ale (note the name had just changed to something else which escapes me: something road perhaps...whatever, look for the 4%). Tremendous.
We then meandered to Gigantic where "The Most Interesting Beer in the World" was loosing it freshness as well. Still good, but no longer great. The risks of waiting too long to go and get fresh hop beers. We ended up at the Laurelwood Westmoreland pub where the Fresh Hop Red was no longer available. Trying to decide on a replacement was a challenge with a server who knew nothing about beer and seemed very bemused that we would want to know what hops were used in the beer we chose. She didn't have any idea and went to find out - with no luck. Apparently the pub knows nothing about the beer they serve. Methinks a staff training session is in order.
So the moral of my story is not to wait too long to go and seek out fresh hop beers. There are still some good ones out there but they are quickly fading. And if you do find one, ask for a taster first to see how well it is holding up.