McMenamin's, various locations in Oregon and Washington
Let the complaints begin. "McMenamin's is a chain." "That's movie theater beer.""Pick a real beer." Shut it.
Lucky Labrador Brewing, Portland Ore. To understand fresh hop season in the Pacific Northwest is to look at the trellises, garages, backyard fences and even abandoned fields and vacant buildings covered in hops this time of year. Much like the invasive blackberry bushes that choke the sides of Washington and Oregon roads, hops here just are. They're ingrained into the community, history, agriculture and environment, and anyone whose property produces vines of those fragrant green cones can get in on the action. That's Mutt in a nutshell: Hops from many places going into one beer. Each year, the brewery solicits requests for backyard hops and blends them all together in one smooth, sweet smelling brew. This year's concoction gathered more than 315 pounds of hops from dozens of backyards and swirled them into a brew that's a bit more amber and malty than an IPA. Why "Mutt"? Because the hops used could be Amarillo, Centennial, Citra, Cascade, Willamette, etc. The brewers don't know and don't ask, and the beer benefits. Trip Series Imperial Fresh Hop IPA
New Belgium Brewing, Fort Collins, Colo., and Elysian Brewing, Seattle Fort Collins is a great beer town, but it's not exactly in the middle of hop heaven. New Belgium already trucks fresh Centennial, Amarillo and Cascade hops down from Washington for its 7% ABV Lips of Faith Fresh Hop. If it wants to put those same hops in a more potent 8.5% imperial IPA, it's going to need some help from friends with a hop hook-up. Enter Seattle's Elysian Brewing, which has partnered with New Belgium on more than a dozen small-batch beers and is much closer to the hop source in Yakima than its friends in Colorado. With Elysian's help, New Belgium created an IPA with its trademark strength and bite, but a far more subtle bitterness than a drinker usually finds in New Belgium's hoppier offerings. There won't be a whole lot of this batch kicking around, but there's more than enough to remind lucky drinkers that it helps to have friends in all latitudes.