Monday, October 3

Hood River Hop Fest Recap

First, I was lucky enough to get the weekend off to even make the fest, and second, my #pdxbeergeek bud @DrSci & family hooked me up with the ride out there. That was most excellent. The ride also seemed to go much faster without me having to do the driving.

The line was small at opening when the fest started at Noon. The entrance was a little clustered and didn't seem to be overly organized. They had a cash-only side, and a cash/debit/credit side as well. I thought the wording on the signs were interesting.... explaining the package deals etc. The beer cup was called a 'stein'. I thought "great, perhaps a stein, or glass!". Nope. A typical plastic fest cup much like the one at the Oregon Brewers Festival. I went ahead and purchased the $35 package for the entrance fee, cup, 14 tokens, and a T-shirt.

The line getting in eventually wrapped around the block, but overall wasn't too bad. Parking was free downtown all that day which was great. It wasn't difficult for us to find a spot right on the street behind the fest.

It slowly got going, and the folks pouring the beers were very polite and greeted us with a big smile, and enthusiastic pouring manner. I was happy to see lots of bigger than usual pours.. meaning over the 4 oz. mark in the bottom of the plastic mug (which I am happy to say didn't have nearly as bad of a plastic chemical flavor that I got at the Cans Fest in Portland).

I was a bit disappointed with the beers overall. Some were respectfully not fresh hop beers which is just fine, but I found a lot of the fresh hop beers.. to not really taste like fresh hop beers should for me. Perhaps it was the mix of styles. Perhaps pale ales just showcase the hops more because of the lighter malt body and alcohol content. But many just didn't come across as fresh hop beers. There were some big hitters there in the strength department, and some others that were just plain good and true to the style.

I didn't go for the Pelican or Deschutes beers because I have been drinking them around town anyway. I also didn't try some others because I can easily get them around where I live, and in town in Portland. I was happy to try some that I knew would be difficult for me to find.. unless I stopped in the BeerMongers which I am sure some of the rare stuff would turn up there.

The goods for me:
- The first beer I tried was the local Logsdon Fresh Hop Sezoen. That was a very good beer with a wonderful aroma. Very good job on that one.

- Also another local, Big Horse Brewing presented their Vernon the Rabbit Slayer.. which was an imperial IPA.. and was certainly awesome. Their Red Fang red ale was also stellar.. and perhaps better than the Vernon.

- Everybody's Brewing had one called Head Stash. I really liked it, and thought it too stood out above many of the others.

- Elysian Karma Citra was kick ass.. and unique. Certainly a winner.

- Amnesia had two that were very similar to one another, but I liked them both a great deal. For me though the malt character is what stood out for me, not the hops. Both just very solid pale ales. Though they did lack a little of the fresh hop character I was looking for.

- Double Mountain Killer Red was ok, but didn't really hit the high marks for me.. but it certainly won't get placed in any bad category.

- Ninkasi's Fresh Hop Tricerarillo was pretty damn good. It stood out and was very good and unique.

- One of my more favored, and least expected favorites.. was Rock Bottom's Hop Harvest Ale.. what a damn good brew! Makes me wish I was a mug club member, and there with some fatty pints right now as I type this! Very solid and might just be my #1 pick of the fest.

- Rogue's 'Good Chit' was a super good bitter Oktoberfest style brew that I thoroughly enjoyed.

- Hopworks certainly showed up with some goodies. Fest of Fury was very good, and Give me Liberty was very solid.. though, I did expect a little better.

- Laurelwood had a fantastic fresh hop lager, and the fresh hop free range red ale was super good and smooth.

- Oakshire's Triune Pale was very solid.. but still seemed to lack some big hops.

The not-so-good:
- Beer Valley's fresh hop Leafer Madness was one I was really looking forward to... but it ended up being a butter bomb. The diacytl in the beer made it undrinkable.. and I had to pour it. I was also hearing they were having the same issue in their bottles. I hope that gets worked out very quick-like.. because I really love that beer.

That's about all I tried there, and I still plan to try others in town that were there at the fest. I may miss a few though as I always seem to. Perhaps I can make Roscoes Fresh Hop Summit too soon to try a lot more since I am missing the Oaks Park fest this weekend.

Maybe 3 of the beers at the fest stood out as a great fresh hop brew.. but the rest really fell short for me. A bit of a disappointment. Deschutes, Pelican, Rock Bottom, Laurelwood.. great job with the fresh hop beers. I certainly hope to hit up Coalition soon too to try some that I hope will still be on tap.

I was pretty tired that day, and was up late drinking the night before as well. I wish I had slept more, and wasn't in a fog.. but the beers helped me get out of that fog. I hope next years is even better! I left feeling like this years was just a little short of being very good. Also the pissers seemed to be occupied quite often as well. Maybe a couple walk-through urinal ones for the men would have made it a little more easy for everyone. It was also a bonus that the whole time we were there, it didn't rain.

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