Thursday, September 10, 2009

Going Local and Staying Connected

Regular readers of my blog will know that I am a bit skeptical of the net economic benefits to 'going local,' but this is often confused with lack of support. On the contrary, I am a supporter of the local economy, I just think claims about the economic benefit tend to be grossly over-inflated. But, though overall monetary benefits are likely small (and may even be negative), I support the local economy because I am a big believer in the public goods aspect of community itself. I believe that an inter-connected and supportive community reaps huge non-market benefits to all its members. I am also enough of a naturalist (though usually of the economic kind) to relish the ability to connect to the earth and its bounty as directly as possible.

This is why I rejoice in living in Oregon when the hop harvest time arrives. And it has arrived! What this means to you, dear closet economist and beer lover, is an astounding array of fresh, or 'wet' hop beers on offer throughout the state. Now, some purists decry the use of fresh hops as a gimmick that produces mediocre beer as the essence of wet hops are different and much more unpredictable than their dried counterparts. Bah! To me fresh hop ales give me a connection to the land from whose bounty beer is made that is unattainable in regular beers. I love those too, but to be able to taste the raw hop essence that Oregon soil has spawned is a delightful fall treat.

And each year the treats become more numerous. Here is just a sampler of what you can find this year:

John Foyston (who is responsible for these wonderful pictures - I stole them wantonly) is all over the latest Full Sail Lupulin offerings. Normally I save Beeronomics Posts until Friday, but am posting this early so that you know to get yourself to the Pilsner Room tonight to savor John Harris's latest fresh hop magic. Not to be missed (though you will have the opportunity to try them for a while at the pub). John is arguably the grand master of the fresh hop ale (arguably the grand master of northwest brewing, for that matter), and his 2007 Lupulin won Beervana's coveted Satori Award.

[Grower Doug Weathers and brewmaster John Harris at Sodbuster Farm in late August. Credit: John Foyston]

Eugene City Brewery, an affiliate of the Rogue empire, goes one better in the freshness quotient: Rogue grows their own hops and ECB managed to get their hops into the kettle just one hour and 37 minutes after the harvesting from Rogue's hop farm in Independence. Talk about fresh. The first taste is ALSO tonight so if you are in Eugene you can drown your sorrows about having a football team that is all flash and no substance in fresh hop beer! (Okay, that was a gratuitous and uncalled for jab - but it's all right, you can just come on up a bit north if you want to see how a real college team plays football).

Bill at It's Pub Night reports on a first taste of Deschutes' King Cone Ale which is currently pouring at the Portland pub.

The Oregon Brewers Guild has also announced the fresh hop "tastival" schedule: October 3 - Hood River Hops, October 10 - Oaks Park, Portland, October 17 - TBD, Eugene. Oh happy day! I live just a hop skip and jump from Oaks Park, so hopefully I can manage to swing by...

And finally, what hands down is the coolest fresh hop happening of them all (even if it doesn't necessarily yield the 'best' beer of the bunch): Angelo of Brewpublic reports on The Lucky Lab's all-comers hop harvest ... The Mutt is a-brewin'!

And who could resist stealing Angelo's wonderful photograph of this guy. I wonder who he is?...

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