Seasonal brews come and go throughout the year—heavy stouts in winter, lighter ales in summer, the occasionally dreaded pumpkin beer right now. But there's one genre of beer that we, as Oregonians, can claim as truly our own: The fresh-hop beer, the dank and bitter friend of any true craft fan.
Thanks to increasing demand and some creativity with express shipping, beers made with freshly-harvested hops are becoming increasingly common around the United States, including from such faraway names as Founders in Michigan and Sixpoint out of Brooklyn, NY. The genre is king in Oregon and Washington, however, and fresh-hop beers from places like Fremont, Base Camp and Ex Novo are hitting tapwalls already.
At least seven Deschutes County breweries have releases in the works, and Deschutes Brewery is leading the pack with three fresh-hop beers on tap now at the pub, powered by Goschie Farms in the Willamette Valley. Their Tettnang hops provide a pleasant tang to the wet-hop version of Bachelor Bitter, while Centennial hops power both the seasonal Horse Ridge IPA and this year's version of Chasin' Freshies, Deschutes' annual rotating-hop fall release. This year marks the first time Chasin' is sold in six-packs nationwide, and it's got a juicy twang this year that all but ensures it'll be gone from store shelves pretty quickly—"available September until it's gone," as Deschutes diplomatically puts it. Also available now is Fort George's Fresh 2016, using Amarillo hops to seal the essence of the Pacific Northwest into their trademark 16-ounce cans.
But why end the fresh-hop craze there when there's the entire rest of the region to explore? The 14th annual Hood River Hops Fest, the granddaddy of what's now a crowded slate of Oregon fall beer festivals, takes place Sept. 24 and quite neatly takes over the town of Hood River, with over 75 fresh-hop beers available from 50 or so breweries. The one in Portland the following week is almost as large, but for a more intimate experience, hit up the Sisters Fresh Hop Festival on Oct. 1, a dog-friendly outdoor event offering all the season's beers from Central Oregon and beyond in one place.
Enjoy the season while it lasts—because before too long, it'll be Jubelale time all over again.