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home : arts & entertainment : arts & entertainment November 22, 2017

10/3/2017 12:05:00 PM
Beer fest got folks hoppin' in Sisters
Beer-lovers learned about the nature of fresh hops at the Sisters Fresh Hop Festival last weekend. photo by Jerry Baldock
+ click to enlarge
Beer-lovers learned about the nature of fresh hops at the Sisters Fresh Hop Festival last weekend. photo by Jerry Baldock

By Jodi Schneider McNamee

The crisp fall air was fragrant with fresh hop aromas all around Village Green Park, attracting hundreds of folks to the eighth annual Sisters Fresh Hop Festival on Saturday.

The event was presented by Three Creeks Brewing Company.

It's that time of the year when brewers delight in rubbing sticky, leafy cones between their fingers, picking apart the petals to reveal a bright yellow oily pollen. For beer drinkers it's the time when they get to sample the short-lived product in its purest form. And that is fresh hops from the bine. Fresh hop beers, also known as wet hop beers, are typically brewed with hops that are picked and in the brew kettle within 24 hours.

Beer lovers, music lovers, and food lovers all had a place at Sisters Fresh Hop Festival, which featured 26 Oregon brewed fresh hop beers on tap, local food carts, and a whole day of live music by The Brothers Reed.

From fresh hopped pale ales to imperial IPAs, there were flavors for everyone's taste. Folks even got a chance to vote for their favorite brewery, with the People's Choice Best Fresh Hop Beer contest. At the end of the festival whatever brewery has the most votes wins the impressive Golden Bunny Award

Three Creeks Brewing Co. has a passion for fresh-hop beers, and head brewer Zach Beckwith was excited about their second year of hosting the event.

"We are trying to improve the festival to make it even more of a brewer-friendly event. An event that people will mark on their calendar every year," Beckwith said. "We are curating the beer list a little more this year, trying to reach some independent breweries and self-distributed breweries, not just big breweries."

Three Creeks' Hop Wrangler Fresh Hop Red featured freshly harvested Amarillo Hops from Crosby Hop Farm in Woodburn. Crosby Hop Farm educated the public on hops.

Account manager for Crosby Hop Farm Elizabeth Anderson and her dog Porter were set up outside the big tent with a variety of fresh hops for sampling.

"We have a variety of hop samples so people can smell the different hops and connect more with where beer comes from and what hops are beyond just, like, knowing that you like an IPA beer," Anderson said. "We are educating the public about the characteristics of the different varieties of hops and how it affects the beer people are drinking. We want to tell them about all the factors that go into this awesome beverage that brings communities together."

Fresh-hop beers give brewers the chance to work with an ingredient in its most natural state, resulting in unique flavors and aromas compared to beers made with hops that have been dried and stored.

Connie Rodriguez from Redmond knows just why she loves fresh-hop beer.

"The beers truly do taste different using fresh hops - more aromatic depending on the brewing technique," Rodriguez said.

Bridge 99 Brewery in Bend, represented by Trever Hawman, had a fresh-hop IPA on tap for sampling.

"These hops came from Tumalo Hop Company and were picked at 8 a.m. this morning, and we had them by 9 a.m., so our beer is really fresh," Hawman said.

Folks were on line ready to savor hop water, a brand-new non-alcoholic sparkling libation made from hops. Dave Glick, a retired science teacher from Sisters School District introduced Oregon Hop Springs, a non-alcoholic beverage manufacturing company, to hundreds of beer lovers at the festival.

"My son works all over Southeast Asia, and my wife, Cindy, and I went to visit him in Japan and he told us about hop water. We tried it and liked it and thought it would go over really good in the Pacific Northwest," Glick said.

Glick and his partner, Alex Gholson, a chemist and beer brewer, took the idea of hop water, experimented with hop combinations and different brewing techniques to create this unique sparkling drink.

"We've had tasting parties already, and people really seem to enjoy it," Glick added. "And we will be selling kegs of hop water and are hoping to sell to local breweries. I think it would be great to serve it as a non-alcoholic beverage for designated drivers."

This year the Golden Bunny Award went to the host, Three Creeks Brewing Company. And second place was Crux Fermentation Project.

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