Thursday, September 29, 2011

Fresh Hop Beers - Fresh Hop Mirror Pond, Two Beers Fresh Hop, and Bridgeport Harvest Ale

The Fresh Hop beers have arrived! I've found Fresh Hop Mirror Pond, Two Beers Brewing Fresh Hop Ale, and Bridgeport Harvest Ale. These only show up for a few weeks a year and then they are gone! Go out and and get them. Here's my take on a couple great ones.

As I've said before we're blessed up here in the Pacific Northwest to have almost all the hops in the US grown in Washington, Oregon, and Idaho. That means the brewers here can access fresh hops the day and even the hour they are harvested. Hops are essentially flowers that quickly mold and spoil so they typically are dried to preserve them and prevent them from rotting. This process tends to concentrate the flavors and narrow them so they tend to be stronger but less complex. Fresh hops lend a lighter, more complex flavor profile that take a normal pale ale and really make it shine. Here are three examples I've been able to pick up in the past week.

And if you're all hopped out from the summer the pumpkin beers are on the shelves!

Deschutes Fresh Hop Mirror Pond Pale Ale - If you have Deschutes distribution in your area you're no doubt familiar with Mirror Pond. This is their fresh hop version and the first year they are bottling it. They use the same recipe except they use exclusively fresh hops from a single harvest of "heirloom" Cascade hops. It's a fun experiment to pick up a 22oz bottle of this and a six pack of the standard and drink them side by side to compare.

The Fresh Hop Mirror Pond has a slight maltier character with more herbal and floral notes from the fresh hops. They aren't as bitter as the standard variety and also not as strong. You need to sip it and don't let the carbonation overwhelm. It's a beer you need to concentrate on a bit as the flavors are lighter but the freshness is readily apparent.

Two Beers Fresh Hop - Two Beers is a small brewer from Seattle that mix their harvest of fresh hops with 4 other kinds of hops. The net result is a stronger fresh hop beer that is pleasingly piney and herbal. It's more bitter than the others but in a balanced fashion. It tastes like you're in a pine forest after a spring rain. Earthy and piney. Yum!

Bridgeport Harvest Ale - Bridgeport prides themselves on getting their hops from the vine to the boil in 1 hour. they brew in Portland and harvest their hops from the Willamette valley. This pale ale has a spicey almost peppery taste. There is a resinous fresh bitter aftertaste that lingers lightly sucking the moisture out of the front and sides of your tongue. The oils in the fresh hops are very apparent and coat your tongue. A spicey, tart, bitter treat.

And Special note Elysian Brewing has a wet hopped beer using Citra hops called Kama Citra. It is awesome on draft and amazing on cask. It's a hazy amber color with an excellent citrus, tartness, and full floral nose. I've already gone back 3 times for this beer in the past week. Definitely don't miss this one if you're up on Capitol Hill. Their special IPA doesn't hold a candle to this beer.

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