We've been writing a lot about fresh-hop beers lately, if you haven't noticed. There is good reason, though. I, along with the rest of our editorial department, love the crispy, tangy, spicy taste of a good fresh-hop beer.
And there were plenty of those to be had last Saturday at Deschutes Brewery's fresh-hop dinner at the Mountain Room. The tapas-style dinner featured an around-the-world approach with a full slate of delectable dishes, each paired with a different beer. While most of the beers were indeed made from fresh hops, there were a few exceptions, including the Abyss, which was the surprise offering of the night. I didn't hear many complaints from the sold-out room about that move, though, as it went perfectly with the caramel apple and walnut pastries that were served for dessert.
The free-form dinner allowed patrons to eat at their own pace as they circled the different tasting stations throughout the room, which in my opinion was a big plus. I'm not a sit-down-and-wait-for-eight-different courses kind of guy. Especially when there are so many tasty beers waiting to be tasted. Having never attended one of Deschutes' Mountain Room tasting dinners, I wasn't sure what to expect, but the relaxed, casual atmosphere worked perfectly and I didn't hear complaints from the rest of our group, either. This probably had something to do with the fact that when I grabbed a second (followed by a third, eventually) cup of the smoked gouda mac and cheese, which was topped with caramelized onions and shallots, there was no one to tell me no. The same went for the beer... seriously. The phenomenal sunset over the Cascades didn't hurt either.
As I chomped down on the salty-meets-sweet roasted butternut squash flatbread, I took the chef's and brewmaster's recommendation and paired it with the Double Dry Hopped Big Rig Bitter. Holy hops, was it delightful. But when I asked a Deschutes employee where I could get more of that, they said this dinner was the only place it would be served. Bummer for you guys, but that stuff was damn good.
Again, this was my first Mountain Room event, but Deschutes has been doing this for some while. Some might find the price tag (this was $40) a bit steep at first, but once you get in there, you'll realize you're getting a bargain. And a tasty one at that.