Chatoe Wet Hop Ale
Rogue Brewery, Newport, Ore.

Anywhere else in the country, Rogue is just a long-tenured craft brewer whose Dead Guy Ale may have made its way onto a few taps. On the West Coast, it's a craft beer beast with pubs, distilleries, breweries and farms in Washington, Oregon and California. That self-sustaining ecosystem only helps Rogue around fresh hop season, when its micro hopyard produces enough Freedom, Revolution, Independent, Alluvial and Liberty hops to power this more than 6% ABV monster brew.

Combined with malt from Rogue's own barley farm and Oregon coastal water, those hops bring a bit more bitterness than a standard wet hop ale. That said, they're also some of the most recognizable little cones on the tap list once the hop harvest comes around.

Fresh Hop Pale Strider
Walking Man Brewing, Stevenson, Wash.

Some of the best breweries in hop country are the smallest, and Walking Man certainly fits both bills. A tiny little brewery and tap room just across the Columbia River from Oregon, Walking Man stakes its entire existence to bold brews such as its Pale Strider American Pale ale.

Ordinarily loaded with citrus aroma and subtle citrus flavor mixed with malty sweetness, Pale Strider uses fresh hops to crank up the smell while muddling the citrusy bitterness a bit. It's a smooth-drinking, nearly sessionable brew at little more than 5% ABV, and that drinkability goes a long way toward distancing this beer from the fresh-hop pack. The brewery itself is little more than a small tasting room that will occasionally serve you a bar pie, but Walking Man's beers have a way of wandering into package store fridges and onto barroom taps when least expected.

Green Pig Fresh Hop Ale
Coalition Brewing, Portland, Ore.

Making a fresh hop beer is an imperfect art. It requires getting your hops from just the right sources, taking them off the vine at just the right time and tasting the resulting beer just before it loses its strong hop profile.

All that said, Coalition's Green Pig may just be the perfect fresh hop beer. Loaded with 110 pounds of farm-fresh Cascade hops and brewed in a tiny 10-barrel facility across from its single-car-garage-sized pub, Green Pig teems with sweet hop aroma but is barely bitter enough to elicit a pucker. That doesn't cost Green Pig any of its understated citrus flavor or distinctly floral scent. It just makes it a more refreshing drink that beer lovers are used to getting from an IPA. That's not such a bad thing.

-- Written by Jason Notte in Boston.

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Jason Notte is a reporter for TheStreet. His writing has appeared in The New York Times, The Huffington Post, Esquire.com, Time Out New York, the Boston Herald, the Boston Phoenix, the Metro newspaper and the Colorado Springs Independent. He previously served as the political and global affairs editor for Metro U.S., layout editor for Boston Now, assistant news editor for the Herald News of West Paterson, N.J., editor of Go Out! Magazine in Hoboken, N.J., and copy editor and lifestyle editor at the Jersey Journal in Jersey City, N.J.

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