Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Fresh Hop Tap Tussle — Snipes Mountain Brewing

Snipes Mountain
Harvest Fresh Hop Pale Ale

ABV 5.5%

Hazy, golden yellow.
Huge sweet grapefruit and bit of cheese rind funk.
Grassy, sweet and citrusy.
Hops vs. Malts (Hoppy, Malty or Balanced):
Grassy fading to nice, mellow lingering bitterness.
Overall (Fantastic, Good, Mediocre or Bad):

Snipes Mountain
Zombie, The Fresh Hop Killer

ABV 7.5%

Clear orange with a little brown.
Aroma: Very subtle aroma of citrus hops (perhaps due to lack of carbonation).
Flavor: Sweet grapefruit juice.
Hops vs. Malts (Hoppy, Malty or Balanced): Hoppy.
Finish: Bitter grapefruit.
Overall (Fantastic, Good, Mediocre or Bad): Good-

Snipes Mountain
2Fresh Double IPA

ABV 8.3%

Ruby brown.
Aroma: Sweet and juicy hop candy.
Flavor: Rich, grassy with prominent bitterness (like bitter greens).
Hops vs. Malts (Hoppy, Malty or Balanced): Hoppy.
Finish: Big, bitter and long-lasting.
Overall (Fantastic, Good, Mediocre or Bad): Good

Winner by unanimous decision
: Harvest.
Fresh Hop season is here! In honor of this special time of year, we interrupt your regularly scheduled Bottle Battle for an old-fashioned, knock-down, drag-out Tap Tussle featuring three beers that all feature loads of fresh hops. The battle was conducted at the north Seattle beer mecca, Naked City Brewery and Taphouse during a special event promoting the beers of Snipes Mountain Brewery from Sunnyside, Washington.

So what's with this "Fresh Hop" stuff? Well, it's basically beer made with hops fresh off the vine rather than hops that have been dried. Brewers go to great lengths to get these fresh hops into their beers as quickly as possible since once they are picked they immediately begin to degrade and lose their precious hop essence. It's a great way to celebrate the hop harvest and, when made well, these beers have a very distinct flavor that can only come from fresh hops.

The battle was very entertaining. We could definitely detect the green, grassy notes of fresh hops in all of the beers, but it was most prominent in the Harvest Pale which had an aroma that just jumped out of the glass and assaulted us with hoppy goodness. Unfortunately, the carbonation in the Zombie was, ahem, dead, which may have been the reason it didn't have much aroma. And the 2Fresh was good, but the fresh hop flavors were masked a bit by the big, malty sweetness. So, if you're looking for a pure, clean, delicious expression of fresh hops you should definitely seek out the Snipes Mountain Harvest Fresh Hop Pale. It was a dominant and unstoppable force in this inaugural Tap Tussle.

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