Editor's Note: So many beers, so little time. One Big Bottle spotlights the brews we're sipping, one by one.
With all due respect to a proper, hesitantly spiced pumpkin ale, fresh (or "wet") hop beers are my harvest beers of choice. Fresh hops have a damp, almost-still-alive character that's lost when the hop cones are dried and stored, and I've yet to see their flavor reproduced another way. When brewing these beers, there's often no more than a matter of hours between the time the hops are picked and when they're added to the brew kettle. But as much as I love them, it can be hard sometimes to be a fresh hop beer fan. While the best fresh hop beers seem like hops straight off the bine, the worst can come off rough, vegetal, or overly grassy.
Deschutes Fresh Hop Mirror Pond, the wet-hopped iteration of their well-known pale ale, is a harvest beer done right. It's made with an heirloom variety of Cascade hops that the brewery worked to revive with Goschie Farms using a 1972 rhizome from Oregon State University.
The aroma is a pungent, sticky blend of grapefruit, orange marmalade, pear, and a little grassiness. Bready malts and caramel play backup. The beer pours a pale copper in the glass, with plenty of lacing and a persistent head. Its bright grapefruit aroma carries through in the flavor with a soft grassy note and spice. A sweet breadiness shines throughout. Fresh Hop Mirror Pond is medium bodied and smooth, and at 5% ABV, it's perfectly sessionable.
Do you have a favorite fresh hop beer?
Sample provided for review.