It's that time of year. The harvest is in, the just-picked hops have been rushed to various Northwest breweries, and the resulting fresh-hopped beers are making their way to the valley. Seattle-based Hale's made the first one some 20 years back, and it has always been a favorite. This year, I got one bottle, loved it and wanted more, but it had already sold out. You snooze, you lose. No worries--here are three other worthy fresh hop brews.
Beer Valley Leafer Madness Imperial Pale Ale, Hop Harvest Edition
This is a hazy, straw-colored brew with an egg-white head that leaves a lovely lacing. The aromas are fresh and lively, offering sweet citrus and tropical fruit, along with smooth hops backed by touches of pine and caramel. This beer has a nice warmth on the palate that leads off with lightly bitter hops followed by a creamy malt middle and finishes with cleansing citrus. This is a very fine effort from this Ontario, Ore., brewery.
Deschutes Chasin' Freshies Fresh Hop IPA
A bright straw in color with a thin, porous head, this brew's aromas are a mix of herb, grass, pepper, resiny hops and a touch of citrus. On the palate, bread-laced malt plays against prickly hops, both colored by ripe lemon and an earthiness that comes through on the finish. This 22-ounce bomber uses an heirloom Cascade hop sourced from Goschie Farms in Oregon's Willamette Valley.
Deschutes Hop Trip
This beer pours a bright amber with a two-finger mocha head that collapses slowly, leaving a decent lacing. You get enticing aromas on the nose with tangy pine, tangerine and grapefruit leading off, followed by undertones of caramel and grass. It's big and fruity in the mouth, with dark, chocolaty, lightly toasted malt backed by a nice hit of fresh hop bitterness. The finish is smooth and dry--this beer is a definite winner.