Tuesday, October 6, 2009

hood river fresh hop festival

This past Saturday, I went to Hood River for the Hood River Fresh Hop Festival. Turn-out was fantastic, the rain was short lived, and the beers were great. I wish I had taken a couple of notes so I could produce a more detailed account of the day, but I was too busy drinking. What I can say is the the Vernon the Rabbit Slayer, that I had wanted to try last weekend, only to find a tapped out keg, was worth the additional weeks wait. Delicious fresh hop imperial IPA. Probably one of the most "traditional" tasting fresh hop beers of the fest (but not boring!), and an excellent and memorable example. I also really enjoyed the Ft. George Cohoporative Ale. This was a hoppy belgian inspired IPA. Yes, the belgian yeast did detract or even overpower the delicate notes I would have expected to pick up in a fresh hop beer, and maybe the style wasn't appropriate for showcasing them, but forgetting all that, it was GOOD. Spicy, sweet (but not overly so), hoppy, and with a nice head. It reminded me briefly of Urthel Hop-It, although it suffered by being force carbonated and not bottle conditioned like most of the finer examples of the style. Along with the Vernon the Rabbit Slayer, I had the Big Horse brewing "the strange", a fresh hop hemp ale using whole husked hemp seeds in the grain bill. I tried this one for the novelty of the ingredients, and while I probably would have enjoyed it any other day, I felt that compared to all the other brews I tried, this one was the lightest, and most bland. Good hot weather thirst quencher, but not the bold beer I could have used on that afternoon. The mutt from Lucky Lab was another classic example of a fresh hop brew. I think it turned out great, especially given that the hop profile was so loosely controlled. Double Mountain Killer Green was another fantastic beer. I got around to it a bit too late in the day to properly talk about it's flavor profile, but I look forward to maybe getting another shot at it this weekend, if I can work the Portland festival into my schedule. On top of these beers, I tried two stouts. One was an espresso stout, that was a bit too light bodied and light colored to meet my expectations of the style. The other was a "belgian espresso stout", and as my friend predicted, the belgian overpowered everything else about the beer, and made for a poor example of what this hybrid style could have been.

After the beer festival, we drove out onto Mt. Hood to find a place to camp. After finding a suitable area to set up, we made camp and got a fire going as I suffered the effects of drinking too many acidic beers and not drinking any water or eating enough food. Think pounding headache, loss of appetite, and queasiness. I retired early, but my friend stayed up another couple of hours, drinking cheap beer and tending to the fire. I remember briefly waking up as he entered the tent for the night. It had begun to drizzle, and we had a zipper failure on the front entrance to the tent. Still, we were also covered and sitting on a tarp, so I had faith we'd stay dry. Fast forward another couple of hours into the night. I woke up, and couldn't tell where I was in the tent. I dug out my cell phone to produce a little light, and when I illuminated the inside of the tent, I was even more confused. Turns out that somehow the tent had collapsed in the night. There was no visible exit to the tent, and I had to guide myself to find it by remembering how I had oriented myself before bed. Around this time, the tent collapsed further, and some ice water that had pooled on top of the tent entered through the failed zipper and dumped onto me and bag. Sitting is wet sleeping bag, which was sitting in a puddle in a collapsed tent, I decided to make a run for the truck, where I could take shelter under the cab cover, and change into dry clothes, which luckily I left in the truck and not with me in the tent. I loaded up my things into my sleeping bag, wiggled through the part of the opening in the front of the tent that I could find, and ran in my socks through a mixture of accumulated snow and rain to the truck. When I got there, I found that all the door were locked, which forced me to run back to the tent, and rouse my friend, who was too drunk to notice our predicament. When I finally got him to give me the keys, I ran back, hopped in, changed, and tried to sleep. It began to get REALLY cold, despite all my layers and my winter rated sleeping back. I had to close myself inside completely to keep warm. I remember thinking to myself, that I hoped I had dozed off and missed my friend hopping into the front of the truck, because if he had stayed in the tent, he surely would have been suffering the effects of hypothermia by now. Not long after a pounding came on the cab cover. It was my friend, who shouted between shivers "time to get, we have to get out of here, now!". I wasn't excited about leaving the relative warmth of my bag, but I had to get out and help break down what was left of our camp, so we could get out of there. At this point, the precipitation had fully solidified, and a blanket of white covered the wet slush that remained beneath. Running through this winter mix in shoes made for summer trail running was unpleasant to say the least. We had to break up packing into several short segments to allow our hands to thaw enough for the next task. Once we were fully loaded, we drove through the snow back to portland in the early evening, to crawl into warm beds and sleep well into the day. The last part of the disaster we didn't discover until the following afternoon. When we pulled the giant tarp that we had used the night before out of the back of the truck, it was covered in flat pieces of stone, averaging the size of a half dollar. The stone were sunken into the tarp to lay flush with the material, and they rather firmly affixed the surrounding material. With some pressure, they could be popped out of either side of the tarp. Sometime in the middle of the night, one of the stones which surely grew very hot as one of our fire pit boundaries, must have been doused with freezing rain and snow, causing it to explode, and send hot shrapnel everywhere. The little hot pieces of stone showered the tent and tarp, and melted partway through before cooling enough to lock in place. Luckily we were sheltered within, and the rain and snow stopped the risk of fire.

The tent went directly into the trash. I'm going to patch up the tarp with duct tape, and let it live to see another day.

It was the most adventurous (but not by much!) beer festival fallout we'd ever encountered.

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