BridgePort Hop Harvest

BridgePort's Hop Harvest is one of the first fresh-hop ales to hit the market, and I had the opportunity to try a pint last night. A year ago, I considered this beer one of the "winners" of the fresh-hop crop, and it has lost nothing in year two.

It's brewed with Centennials (a high-alpha Cascade), weighs in at 7% by volume, and is purported to have 70 IBUs. But these details are misleading because with fresh hop ales, everything's different. I tried it both on cask and regular draft, and this was an instructive experiment. Cask reveals the herbal quality--I get a lemongrass note and some savory herbal touches (rosemary, basil?). I say lemongrass to suggest that the citrus note isn't straightforward; it's herbal rather than fruity. The malt is softened on cask, and it tastes nothing like a burly 7% beer. As for the IBUs, I've no doubt they're there, but this beer isn't bitter.

On regular draft, it's not nearly as tasty. The richness of the hops are subdued (everything is just less intense), yet there are some sharp, almost grinding notes that are absent in the cask version. I highly recommend trying this at the pub where it's on cask (I was at the Hawthorne pub) to taste the qualities of the wet hops.