If you're a hop lover, October is a lovely time of year. All those beautiful hops, just harvested, find their way from the field to the brew kettles in a matter of hours. If you're looking for a monster IPA with IBUs pushing 100, look elsewhere. Fresh hop ales are about balance and, well, freshness. Here are three recent arrivals:
Deschutes Hop Trip, $1.70-$2.20
Amber in the glass with a thin head that leaves a nice lacing, the soft aromas yield citrus zest, light, creamy caramel, papaya, grass and surprisingly reserved, pine-laced hops. There are lots of yeasty biscuit on the palate with an underlying hop bitterness that shows itself most on the smooth, dry finish. Malt, mango, mandarin orange and pine are all in the mix of refreshing flavors.
Hale's O'Brien's Harvest Ale, $1.40-$1.80
Pours a cloudy copper with a decent head that fades quickly. The aromas are rich and satisfying with a fruity core of heady hops that mingles with chocolate malt, rye, grass and toffee. Just as satisfying on the palate, where spicy hops play against creamy malt while earthy biscuit, orange, caramel and citrus vie for attention. The finish is long and smooth with a satisfying hop bite.
Sockeye Double Dagger Imperial IPA, $3.40-$4.20
This cloudy amber pour throws the thickest head of the trio, with good persistence and a nice lacing. With twice the hops of their regular Dagger Falls IPA, it's no surprise piny hops dominate the nose, backed by touches of grain and tropical fruit. Full-bodied in the mouth, the hops take center stage, surrounded by creamy malt, caramel and apple fruit.