Hop Harvest: The flavors hit the woof

I don’t think I’m alone in expressing my disappointment at how quickly beer ran out at the recent Fresh Hop Beer “Tastival” held at Hopworks Urban Brewery.

In fact, here’s a post from BrewPublic that pretty much mirrors my own experience. Waiting in long lines for a specific beer only to be told said beer [cough Double Mountain Brewery’s Killer Green cough] was out was a bit of a bummer. The place was crammed – lines went from the back wall all the way to the kegs – and the bathroom lines long. But you know what? I still had a decent time. I got to try a couple of new beers, the weather was great and I met a few folks in person.

My guess is that organizers weren’t expecting the crowd they did – and man, it was a huge crowd. And who knew that there was a huge gravel parking lot behind the Safari Show Club? It made for a great overflow for the extra parking needed.

Here’s some video I took to give you an idea of the crowd:

Fresh Hop Beer “Tastival” @ Hopworks Urban Brewery from Schlockstar on Vimeo.

One upside to the hopfest was trying BridgePort’s Hop Harvest on tap. Yeah, I could easily just go to BridgePort and try it, but it’s not always convenient. Out of five tickets that guaranteed five small pours, I used four of them for Hop Harvest [the line wasn’t as bad as the others – that was my criteria]. The other beer I tried was Astoria Brewing’s Hoptimus Prime. It was OK – a tad bitter for my tastes. Guess I might have to visit them some day soon and get the full experience.

I was originally going to write how much I enjoyed Hop Harvest from the bottle but can now add some thoughts on how it pours from the tap.

But first, a back story [there’s always a back story].

A few years ago at the Portland International Beerfest (the one held in the Park Blocks where volunteers walk around with feral cats – I’m not imagining that, right?) I sampled Great Divide’s Hercules Double IPA. Based out of Denver, these guys had the whole “Northwest hoppy” tastes down to a science. In fact, they out-hopped many of Oregon’s own IPAs.

And since, admittedly, I’m an Oregon beer homer, I enjoyed the beer but thought Oregon brewers could do better and should be, at least, offering the same amazing taste that this beer offered.

I think I finally found a beer that not only matches my enthusiasm with the wet hoppy taste of Hercules Double IPA but does it one better. And thy name is Hop Harvest from BridgePort.

Which is odd since last year’s version barely made it onto my radar – either my tastes are changing or last year’s version had a less hoppy kick to it.

Either way, the 2008 version rocks and it’s tasty [for lack of a better word].

This year’s Hop Harvest Ale is an imperial ale style, amped up version of BridgePort’s Blue Heron. According to BridgePort, they mashed in their brew one early morning then drove to B & C Hop Farms in Woodburn, Ore. to pick up 250 pounds of fresh cone Centennial Hops. Within two hours the fresh hops were added to the hot brew on its way to the fermenter. The fresh cones steep in the beer giving it a complete charge of fresh hop flavor.

Fresh hop flavor is an understatement. You can smell the aroma immediately as you pour from the bottle, and that first sip tasted like it was brewed that day. Like my friend said, it had that “wet dog smell.” That’s a good thing actually. Wet dog is similar to the smell from a fresh batch at a brewery – and if it’s smelling like wet dog, it’s worth drinking. [Yeah, I was really reaching by tying the headline to this fact.]

IBU’s: 70 ABV: 7.0% Color: Reddish

Ingredients: Pale, Chocolate and Carmel Malts. Oregon Cluster Hops for bitterness and freshly harvested Centennial Hops for flavor and aroma.

Hop Harvest is still around town for a bit longer – I picked one up at New Seasons in Sellwood recently.

Around the breweries
Here’s a roundup of some news and brews from local brewers

Redhook Ale Brewery Revives its Double Black Stout
Originally created by the brewery in 1995, Redhook stopped producing Double Black Stout in 2000 and craft beer enthusiasts have been reminiscing about it ever since. It’s coming back as a limited release and will be available nationwide beginning early November 2008 through February 2009, or until supplies run out.

Double Black Stout is a smooth, imperial stout enhanced by the addition of rich, flavorful coffee and dark malts to create a big, roasted flavor. Redhook brewers recommend pairing the strongly malted beer with grilled beef or dark chocolate and strawberries to enhance its decadent undertones. The beer can be found at specialty food stores and beer markets for $4.99 SRP per 22 oz bottle. [And yes, I realize that Redhook isn’t actually an Oregon brewer but thought the news warranted the mention since I know more than few folks who have mentioned it to me in the past.]

New brew from Bridgeport: Raven Mad
BridgePort Brewing Company has unveiled its next limited-edition 22-ounce Big Brew: Raven Mad. The Imperial Porter dark porter brewed is aged in bourbon and pinot noir barrels, conjuring up a blend of roasted malts, hints of vanilla and subtle oak flavors. Did we mention the label? It’s in 3-D:

According to BridgePort, ingredients include a “humongous amount of chocolate malt and roasted barley” with 45 IBUs and an ABV of 7.3%.

Raven Mad Imperial Porter Ale will be on tap at BridgePort brewpub + bakery and at BridgePort Ale House. With 1,300 cases produced, this limited edition brew will also be sold at retail grocery stores throughout Oregon and Washington while supplies last. And after supplies run out and you want to purchase? I guess the answer would be: Nevermore.

Your thoughts are welcome

  1. downtownbrown says

    That is exactly why we showed up at 1pm this year – less crowds, plenty o beer. They always run out. Last year we trekked out to Edgefield for Fresh Hops, took forever to find parking and then no beer! This year was much better compared to that. I too LOVED Hop Harvest and Lompoc’s Hop Press.

  2. Hunter says

    Was there at noon for that reason. Went to the same festival at the NW Lucky Lab 2 years ago where about 30 people attended. It has definitely gotten popular.

    Let me get this straight, you had 5 tickets and tried two beers? Great planning. The Double Mountain was the best I had but the Pelican’s entry was a very close second.

  3. Hydra says

    Not quite related, but Russell St. BBQ had Double Mountain’s Killer Green on tap when I was there about a week ago. Made for a tasty pint or two with dinner. Nothing over the top, as I had hoped, but a good bitter pint nonetheless.

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