From late August through September, the local craft beer scene has one thought bubbling to the surface: fresh hops. With more than 6,000 acres of hop farms producing boutique varieties of the climbing vine, Oregon is perfectly poised to combine its huge hop production (second only to Washington state) with its profusion of world-class breweries.
The harvest is already over, and now it’s time for the festivals, where many fresh-hopped beers makes their debut. Here’s are a few places to grab a uniquely Oregon brew, fueled by our agriculture and beer culture in equal measure.
Noon–8 pm, Sept. 21–22, Columbia Lot in Hood River, $10–35
While Portland is a major epicenter of all things hoppy, our first festival hails from the misty Columbia Gorge. The Hood River Hops Fest turns 16 this year, and its home city is host to heavy hitters like Double Mountain and Pfriem. More than 40 breweries will make an appearance at the outdoor festival, pairing beautiful scenery with a mélange of more than 60 fresh-hopped beers, food, and music.
Noon–8 p.m. Sept. 21, Cider Riot on NE Couch, $15–25
For most, fresh hop season is all about bitter, hard-punching beers. But at TerpFest Northwest, the first-ever terpene beverage festival, eight breweries are focusing on another powerful ingredient. Terpenes are naturally occurring aromatic compounds that perfume plants from hops to pine trees to mangoes. Cannabis has particularly complex profiles of terpenes that provide the smell and flavor of particular strains—at the festival, eight cannabis strains will have their unique terpene profiles infused into a set of four beers and four ciders. Whether you’re likely to recognize strains like Tangie or Golden Pineapple or you’re just a nut for one-off beers and ciders from Portland stalwarts like Base Camp and Reverend Nat, the TerpFest is too intriguing an offer not to have on your radar.
5–9 pm Sept. 27, noon–5 pm Sept. 28, Oaks Amusement Park, $25 Friday includes tasting, admission is free on Saturday with tasting packages starting at $20
The Fresh Hop Festival at Oaks Amusement Park is the largest assortment of fresh-hopped beers in Portland itself. It’s a showcase for Oregon’s embarrassment of riches: Seven of the 58 participating breweries have paired with local hop farms. Each pairing, such Portland’s Baerlic Brewing plus the farms behind Indie Hops, will produce a beer for Cone Wars, a competition new to the festival this year.