The Fresher the Better

by Tony Erickson on October 11, 2012

Hey guys! As you may have noticed, I’ve been a big seasonal kick as of late. I’ve mentioned stouts, barley wines and of course the fresh hop ales. This week, I bring you a few words about a fresh hop ale I found at the Ale Jail in St. Paul.

For the uninitiated, a fresh hop ale is generally your standard extra pale ale or india pale ale, with one huge difference, the hops are put into the brewing process when they are as fresh as possible (usually within days of being harvested) instead of when they are dried or turned into pellet hops. Try to think of the difference between using fresh basil and the dried stuff you would find in the spice aisle at the supermarket, and you’ll have a great idea of the difference this can make on a well produced beer.

So, today, I’ve cracked open a bomber bottle of Deschutes’ Chasin’ Freshies IPA. I haven’t come across this particular brew since Deschutes landed here in Minneapolis and I must say it happens to be quite unique for the style. It’s got a nice resinous feel to it but is still light in body, which makes it a very drinkable beer coming in at 7.4% ABV. The interesting thing about this brew is the fact that Deschutes use all cascade hops in the brew that are very atypical of the standard, and wonderful, cascade hop because they’re actually an heirloom strain of the cascade. As a beer nerd and home brewer, I find it really interesting that there are heirloom varieties of hops just as there are heirloom tomatoes, especially since there are over 80 different varieties of the hop plant.

One thing to always remember with fresh hop ales is that you have to drink them as soon as you can. Do not, by any means, buy this type of beer and hold on to it for a month or two. It just won’t be as flavorful or aromatic, which are the only two reasons these beers exist and are worth buying. One of these days, I’ll get around to a cellarable brew I swear. In the mean time, get out to the bottle shop and drink something weird!

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Tony Erickson

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