Of all the brews I have had, Deschutes Brewery tends to make the ones that wind up at the top of my list. Whether on tap or from the bottle, their beers are incredible. Hop Trip Pale Ale is a seasonal offering which boasts fresh hops, utilized within hours of harvest. This is a hop forward brew, featuring Bravo, Centennial, and fresh Crystal hops. It comes in at 5.7% ABV and 53 IBU’s. As with all other bottled beers I’ve had from them, they are bottle conditioned, meaning that carbonation happens in each individual bottle rather than carbonating before bottling. I love what this adds to the beers. While there can be some variance from batch to batch, the result is a more natural result, with effervescence and head retention that I find superior to other methods.
The beautiful caramel color is a spectacular first impression. It is clear with fine bubbles that float elegantly to the foam cap, with all the majesty of a fine glass of champagne—only prettier. The head retention is perfect, forming a thick cap that clings to the edge of the glass as it sinks nearer to the bottom, as if fighting to hold the glass full in futility. Aesthetically, this beer is right on the mark.
The aroma holds a medley of olfactory delights. The aroma notes seemed inverted, with the subtler hints manifesting in the beginning, giving way to the foundational aroma components throughout the remainder of the glass. The first hints were of melon and honeysuckle. It seemed to be a combination of the fresh hops with a slight malolactic component from the yeast. As I continued to examine the aroma, the yeast component came to the forefront, manifesting as yoghurt. A slight honey component presented itself as well, the only malt component that I could discern as I waded through the hop notes. At this point, I was blasted with citrus notes. Strong aromas of grapefruit and lemon took the helm and remained throughout the rest of the session.
The flavor profile was well balanced, with the strong malt profile working as a perfect counterbalance to the hops. This beer is almost 200 calories per 12-ounce bottle, which suggests some residual sugars and carbohydrates, which also contribute to the rich mouthfeel. The citrus and grapefruit notes of the hops were the most prevalent flavor, with some cereal flavors from the malt. Brief suggestions of the malolactic notes showed up in the flavor profile along with a tropical fruit note of guava. The fresh crystal hops in the aroma are brilliantly showcased in perfect balance with the flavor profile. The finish was long-lasting and very enjoyable. Strong citrus flavors of lemon and lime lingered playfully, tempting the lips to make another advance to the glass.
This beer is a pleasure to drink on its own, but would make a wonderful complement to bold flavored foods. I couldn’t help but think of how good this beer would be with a bowl of fresh tortilla chips, ceviche, and mango salsa. The citrus flavors would work harmoniously with one another, and some heat and salt would be a wonderful counterpoint to the bitterness of the hops. Pick up a six back of this beer as soon as you can. They only make it once a year during the hop harvest.