Sunday, January 08, 2006

Hop Trip

I heard this was a “green” hopped beer, a style of beer that I had never had. Oh so exciting...

Brewery – Deschutes Brewery in Bend, Oregon
Style – American Pale Ale
O.G. – 1.058
ABV – 5.5%
IBUs – 35
Hops - approximately 5.5 pounds of Crystal hops per barrel
Serving Type – 22 oz. (bomber) bottle

This particular beer is sort of a retro-brew. It is part of the "Bond Street Series". Deschutes Brewery started in 1988 in downtown Bend on (take a wild guess) Bond Street. Back then they were a just a little brewpub serving a small area. The Bond Street Series are beers that are "inspired" by the original pub. I'm not sure what that means exactly, but apparently these beers were unavailable after 1993, since they were only available at “the pub”. ‘93 was the year that Deschutes moved to its current location. There new facility was decked out with a 131-barrel Huppmann brew system from Germany, which allows them to have fun and experiment with specialty batches, such as this one, and still churn out the ones that they are better known for (such as Mirror Pond Pale Ale).

Enough with the history lesson, what the heck is up with green hop beer? This is a type of beer that can only be made for about 4 weeks out of the year. These are the weeks that directly follow the fall hop harvest. In this particular case 270 pounds of whole flower hops are cut from Doug Weathers' farm outside Salem, Oregon and driven directly to the brewery in Bend. They say that they want the hops to be as fresh as possible so one brewer starts the brewing process hours before the hops even arrive at the brewery. Normally whole hops are dried out and vacuum sealed in packages in order to preserve them. They can also be crushed into pellets and stored for use. Or, finally, the essential oils and resins can be removed from the yellow lupulin glands and then be directly added to the wort. All of these require the scarification of moisture from the hop cone, and beers like this are the only way to fully experience what a hop can do.

Glass – The über cool Thistle Glass so I can really smell the hopsAroma – The first whiff gives me a grassy hop smell that quickly gives way to a grapefruit citric and pine aroma. The malt gives it just a hint of breadiness. The one word that comes to mind while smelling this is “fresh”.

Appearance – It pores with a very stable, big fluffy off-white crown. There is a moderate amount of lacing and is a sparkling clear amber. The crown dissipated, after awhile, and a thin sheet remained throughout the entire tasting.

Flavor – Initially, the beer seemed a little cidery and slightly acidic. Just like the aroma, the initial flavors give way to other flavors such as the citrus and pine. The pale malts that were used contribute very little to the over all flavor, other than a light breadiness. However, they do a marvelous job of balancing this beer and letting the hops dominate the palate without letting them make it so bitter the beer can’t be enjoyably imbibed. It finishes with a lingering hop bitterness that I don’t think I’ve tasted before. It is definitely a hop bitterness, but more…resinous.

Mouthfeel – The body was fairly light, as you would expect from a pale ale, and almost slid over my tongue and down my throat. "Oily" is the term I think that is used for that feeling, but I don't like because it didn't leave any kind of "residue" behind. There was no carbonation either.

Final Thoughts – A mighty fine and very refreshing beverage. I loved the uniqueness of the aftertaste and its ease of drinking. I would hold pale ales in much higher regard if they all tasted like this. As it is, I will just have to content my self with seeking out more green hopped beers.


Blogger ChuckSuede said...

I've read and re-read this review a few times now. And every time my mouth begins to water about halfway through.

9:31 AM  

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