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Barrel Roll: Fall is the season for hops, and OAT, and a touch of oak

 

By KIRBY NEUMANN-REA

Of the News-Register

Hop is a verb as well as a valued herb.

The herb cones, or strobiles, release splendid aromas and flavors, and September was the harvest season. October is time for the annual tradition of fresh-hopped ales.

Even if, like me, you aren’t crazy about hoppy beers, hanging out in hop farms and breweries when those cones come in off the trellises, is a fragrant joy indeed.

 In the words of Pete Townshend, “the perfume nearly beats the taste.”

“We’re in the middle of it,” brewer Joe D’Aboy of Grain Station told me recently. His newest fresh-hop ale is Noble Intentions, named for the Tetnang hop that is one of the four classic, or noble, hop varieties.

“Basically it’s our Pitchfork pilsner with fresh hop added,” and went on tap Sept. 16, according to D’Aboy.

On a visit to Crowing Hen, I watched brewer Ryan Rhea crank up the hop separator and feed it the vines, with the help of brewer Charlie Van Meter and their guest, Dave Coyne of Obelisk Beer in Astoria. The cones fly out at the point they go in, little green jewels dancing into the hopper (naturally). Next stop, the kettle. Well, that day the next stop for a few cones was directly into glasses of IPA that Van Meter and Coyne held over the falling hops, for a redolent top-off to the beer.

More on the lupulin-leaning stuff in a moment.

 

OAT and grain

Two local breweries are helping the “Cheers to the Land” campaign on behalf of Oregon Agricultural Trust, a nonprofit that works with farmers and ranchers to preserve and protect land “for the benefit of Oregon’s economy, community and landscapes.” (cheerstotheland.com)

ForeLand Beer, based in McMinnville, hosts an event at its Portland outpost, The Study, 5 to 8 p.m., Oct. 20, Southeast 28th and Belmont, featuring the new dry-hopped lager, and a chance to meet the OAT team.

From 5 to 8 p.m. on Oct. 26, Wolves and People Brewery, 30203 N.E. Benjamin Rd., in Newberg, rolls out its barrel-aged apricot rye pale ale as part of “Cheers to the Land.”

 

Evasion for sale

About a year after the departure of brewer Ben Acord, the Lapp family has placed Evasion Brewery up for sale. With a seven-barrel brewhouse it is one of two gluten-free breweries in McMinnville, along with Bierly Brewing, downtown. In addition to fermenters and brite tanks, the deal includes a canning line, “award winning recipes” and a 3,240-square-foot lease and room to expand. (And recipes, should the new owner want to continue as gluten-free producer.)

The Rapp family announced the sale on Facebook, and is asking $398,000. Evasion was founded five years ago. The announcement states, “today we have a loyal following a successful business and a modest but respectable foothold in the national beer market, but it’s time to pass on the business to someone new. Someone with the passion to continue Evasion’s growth and legacy.” The announcement describes a “slammed” family machine business, on the same industrial park site, and life changes for sons Erik and Evan.

 Interested? Contact Evan Lapp at evan@evasionbrewing.com

 

O, those hops

Grain Station has also introduced Oak Grove, a German style export beer conditioned in oak barrels for a few weeks, named for the famed Oak Grove at Linfield. The German-style export beer was authored by two Linfield alumnae-brewers: Lily Halsman, formerly of ForeLand Brewery, and current Wildcat Devon Thacker, who is D’Aboy’s assistant brewer.

“It’s on draft, a cool beer. It’s of their design, with a little advice from me,” D’Aboy said. The 6.0 ABV Oak Grove is quaffable, albeit with a slight numbing effect on the first oaky quaff. Then it settles in to a well-rounded flavor and mouthfeel.

The brewery’s annual Citra hop pale ale, called Citra Fresh, hit the taps Oct. 1. Want a maltier seasonal regular? Oktoberfest is also on tap.

The list of hoppy IPAs at Grain Station includes dry-hopped Double Down, and Danksta’s Paradise hazy ale. D’Aboy recently explained that it’s a Coolio reference, and this a lighter version with different hops than the double IPA Danksta’s Paradise from several years back. “This is Danksta’s Paradise the remix.” The ale took on a poignant flavor last month with the untimely death of Coolio, at age 59. D’Aboy said last week the beer will stay on as named, and some type of social media “thanks for the music” post is in the works.

 

Pumpkin season

At Golden Valley, the fresh hops Bald Peak IPA hit the taps Sept. 20, and Tannenbaum winter warmer will appear on tap and in bottles around Nov. 1, with Black Panther stout returning in early December.

Brewer Piper Gladwill is still working up the recipe for the brewery’s 30th anniversary ale, early next year.

In the meantime, think pumpkin: Gladwill roasts and then pulps the gourds and adds them to the mash. All that usually happens in mid-September but she had to wait a couple weeks longer.

“The season was pushed back because of rain, and the pumpkins were just not ready yet,” she said. One place it will be featured will be at Heiser Farms near Dayton, which has revived its beer garden after a three-year hiatus. Other Golden Valley ales are on tap now at the beer garden, open Friday and Saturday starting at 11 a.m.

After the initial pumpkin beer Gladwill will release a bourbon barrel aged pumpkin ale, as a first for Golden Valley. The barrel-aged specialty will be available mid- to late-October.

“We’re not going to have a lot of it, and it will be on-tap only,” Gladwill noted.

 

Crowing Hen

Charlie Van Meter of McMinnville has joined the team at the Carlton-area brewery in a partnership with owner-brewers Ryan and Michelle Rhea. The oyster stout is back at the Carlton-area brewery, and look for pop-up oyster events to go with the briny delight. (It’s the shells and residual juice placed in the boil that deliver the seaside spice, not the oyster meat, though it IS possible to make oyster stout that way!)

On tap is the long-awaited Gin Barrel Aged White Ale, using Old Tom gin barrels from Ransom Spirits, based in Sheridan. Ransom has also sourced its staves to Gigantic Brewing in Portland for their ongoing gin-abled projects.

Van Meter calls it “my weekend gig.

“It’s a team effort,” said Van Meter, a veteran Oregon brewer who’s been this area’s representative for Skagit Valley Malts the last two years. Starting in May, he’s been brewing at Crowing Hen, he said, “sometimes a couple of weekends in a row, sometimes not for a couple of weeks.”

This is how Van Meter describes this phase of his journey.

 “I was pretty green at malt sales, but my first sale was at Crowing Hen for a Saison and we had a lot of conversations about brewing a Saison, and it ended up winning the Silver at (2021) Great American Beer Festival.” (That was the French Prairi.) “We talked beer and process, sharing tips and experiences and after a while started hanging out for brew days, just passionate about beer and wanting to see everyone succeed, and later said, ‘it would be good to work together in a more formal fashion.’

“I love seeing other breweries and helping them make great beer. I still really enjoy what I’m doing during the week,” Van Meter said of selling malt. (He’s an eloquent advocate for the role of malts in appraising beers’ flavor profiles in the same way we do with hops.) “I didn’t see a reason or purpose of leaving that, and Ryan and Michelle still have plenty of influence over the brewery and I figured I could help them out a little bit.”

I first met Charlie nearly 10 years ago when he was brewing near Hood River at Logsdon Farmhouse Ales, where the brew system was located in brew master David Logsdon’s farmhouse.

“I have strong heart ties to farmhouse breweries, so there was no way I couldn’t go brew on a farmhouse brewery 15 minutes from home,” Van Meter said.

His first signature beer at Crowing Hen is the Modern Lager (recommended) “an interesting one we developed as a team,” Van Meter said.

“It was an interesting process, a single white wine or champagne barrel from Stoller (Vineyards), later one from Dominio IV, a third from Beacon Hill,” he said. “We changed the pilsner malt in each and changed the hop  in each one, pull off a third of the volume at tail end of fermentation onto a dry hop in the barrel, let that sit 10-14 days, blend it and crash it and move it to brite tank for lagering. It doesn’t really fit one category, and it’s a fun representation of what’s up there, modern techniques meets wood meets hops grown on the farm, a nice hybridization.”

Ryan Rhea started calling it the Influence Series, according to Van Meter.

“It helps dry the beer out nicely and broadens the mouth feel without the sweetness, so you can have a dry beer with a broad palate,” he said.

Writer Kirby Neumann-Rea favors malty beers, gets picky about proper glassware, and continually forgets and then remembers everything he knows about beer making.

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