Fresh hop season has been upon us for quite some time now, there have been many delicious renditions, and a few duds of suds so far. Everything from “Fresh Hop” to “Wet Hop” and everything in between, it is certainly harvest time for hops, and most definitely time to reap the rewards. I wanted to delve into a brewery which seems to do a lot of things well, but does nothing exceptionally, mindblowingly well. I have always enjoyed most of Deschutes’ dark beers, I love me some Abyss, or Black Butte, or Obsidian, but I have always found their IPA’s to be somewhat monotone, all featuring the same typical malt backbone. I’ll admit that Fresh Squeezed is often good, and Hop Henge is always a nice club in the head with hops. But still, they all have a very distinct “Deschutes” flavor to them, whether it be the house yeast strain, recycled malt bill, or fresh Bend water, I just always seem to get the same signature flavor profile. Can we find something unique and different here? Perhaps…
Chasin’ Freshies debuted in 2013 with a delicious rendition featuring Amarillo hops, it was pungent, floral, bright, crisp, juicy, dry, and delicious all at once. It returned last year in 2014 with Mosaic hops, it was juicy, fruity, sweet, tropical, malty, heavy, rich, delicious in a different way. This year it uses Lemon Drop and Bravo hops, and from the label claims to be “bright and juicy, (with) the enchanting aroma of the freshest possible hops.” Just what are Lemon Drop and Bravo hops though? Lemon Drops boast flavors of lemon, grapefruit, menthol, pine, and peppermint, while Bravo hops are typically associated with bittering and offer notes of pine and lemon not too different from Columbus hops. So just what will this years Chasin’ Freshies hold for us?
Beer — Chasin’ Freshies Fresh Hop India Pale Ale
Brewery — Deschutes Bend, OR
ABV / IBU — 7.4% / Fresh hops yield no IBU’s here
Availability — Limited, brewed once a year!
22oz Bomber poured into 13oz tulip for tasting, bottle dated “Best By 1/3/16”
Appearance (3.5/5) — Drains out of the bottle and into the glass fairly quickly, quite light in color, this is very pale, a light yellowy hue in the glass. There is a white colored head that forms, but it settles fairly quickly into nothing more than a thin film atop of the beer. Lacing left behind is inconsistent at best.
Aroma (3/5) — Fairly muted aromas here, there are some nice notes of lemon and lime here, but they are very very faint. Overall this is dominated by Pilsner characteristics, there is a large amount of Pilsner malt in this beer and that really comes to the forefront. This smells like a lightly hoppy pilsner. For reference, Pivo Pilsner (Firestone), smells hoppier and brighter than this beer, and that beer is strictly a Pilsner.
Taste (3/5) — Much like the nose, this beer is dominated by the Pilsner malt, there is a really light lemony hop bitterness on the back end of things. Overall this drinks and tastes like an Imperial Pilsner (see Lagunitas Imperial Pils), which is unfortunate.
Mouthfeel (3.5/5) — Medium bodied, there is a bit of a sticky lingering finish here. Somewhat monotone though, and quite sweet.
Overall (3/5) — Disappointing, unfortunately. This beer lacks the fresh hop punch, and is dominated by Pilsner malts and sweetness. There was a great opportunity wasted here. Kudos for using some unorthodox hops for the style, and branching out a bit. This one just missed the mark for me. Your mileage may vary.