When you’re Oregon’s oldest craft brewery, I think that folks naturally have high expectations for you. Such is the case for me, at any rate, with Bridgeport Brewing Company. I’ve been drinking their beers for decades now, and I’ve always been impressed with them. In 2009 the brewery was ranked 47th largest in the country with production around 100,000 barrels a year.
One of the beers I’ve heard a lot about has been their Hop Harvest Ale, though until recently I had never seen it. The label says the hops used go from field to brew kettle in an hour, a practice that a number of breweries are using these days for specialty “fresh hop” brews. Bridgeport claims they used 400 pounds of hops for their 2010 release of Hop Harvest Ale, for 2011 they have upped the ante to 625 pounds.
Bridgeport used Centennials as the variety for the 2011. The beer was first released in mid-September of 2011, though I didn’t see it until November here in the Atlanta area. I popped a bottle back then and I’m on a second in early April of 2012. One would expect that a beer of this caliber would hold up nicely over a span of six months, and one would be correct.
Bridgeport Hop Harvest 2011 pours to a hazy straw color with a thick creamy head of tightly packed bubbles and an herbal aromatic hop nose. A sip reveals fresh bread malt laced with chewy caramel followed in short order by the hops. The beer is infused with hop aroma: herbal, grassy, citric hop aroma and flavor that calls forth impressions of lemon grass. Notes of toasted oak lie beneath, followed by an increasingly bitter hop crescendo that crashes with a long dry finish.
The label calls this “triple hopped imperial style”, though I think that it isn’t quite that big a beer. Still, it’s an impressively hopped American India Pale Ale brewed with a single variety of fresh hops, and about right for that style in strength at 6.56% by volume. It’s a bit different than Bridgeport IPA, and not as big as my beloved Hop Czar Imperial IPA. A good buy, too, at just $5.98 for the bomber bottle, perhaps a bit higher than Bridgeport beers usually run, but not bad at all by today’s standards.
And remember, try a new beer today, and drink outside the box.
*Pricing data accurate at time of review or latest update. For reference only, based on actual price paid by reviewer.