No, it wasn’t raining. It was hoppy. For hop lovers Saturday afternoon at the Bistro, 1001 B St. in Hayward, was a day to remember: 22 beers from craft brewers as far away as San Diego, each made with some combination of fresh hops – hops put in the kettle right out of the field or as close as out of the field as possible.
Vic Kralj, proprietor, says this fest wasn’t professionally judged, although Vic, Tom Dalldorf, publisher of Celebrator Beer News and Dave Hopwood, of Stone Brewing, Escondido, tasted all of them and made a call on which were the hoppiest.
But first – the People’s Choice Award, decided by the approximately 500 people who attended.
First: Lagunitas, Petaluma, Absolutely Wet: 7.8 percent ABV, made with wet Columbus hops in a sock.
Second: Half Moon Bay Brewing, Half Moon Bay, Green Gold: 6.2 percent, made with 100 percent fresh Simcoe hops.
Now what Vic, Tom and Dave thought. The judgement was only on which were the hoppiest beers.
1. Beach Chalet, Patootie.
2. Half Moon Bay, Green Gold.
3. Ballast Point (San Diego) Schooner Wet Hop Ale: 4.5 percent, 100 percent fresh Cascades.
This was a very intelligent crowd, indeed. It was a great place to talk to brewers. Lots of them came.
Personally, I tasted 11 beers. Not a ringer in the lot. Couldn’t argue with the Best of Show. I loved the Half Moon Bay Green Gold. It had “oh my god!” hops from aroma to finish.
Confession time: I do like hops, but in balance. So I really liked Sierra Nevada Harvest Ale. Beautiful copper color, thick foam, heady hoppy nose, but great balance between malt and hops in the mouth: 6.7 percent, fresh Cascades and fresh Centennials for finishing.
Bistro Wet Hop FEst — Christian..Another good one, I thought, was Ballast Point’s Schooner. Beautiful hoppy nose, very nice malt-hop balance.
Can’t omit Brian Hunt’s Moonlight Brewing, Santa Rosa. Homegrown #1, 6 percent, made with 95 percent fresh Cascades, picked just outside the brewery door, was simply splendid. The British, tongue in cheek, have a great word for something with a distinctive nose. They say it has a “snatch”. Well, this baby had a hoppy snatch. Wild indeed.
Butte, Chico, had an organic beer: Fresh Hop Ale, 6.6 percent, Centennial hops. Very nice.
Last note. I have the whole list; it isn’t electronic, but I’ll mail a copy to whoever asks. E-mail your request to firstname.lastname@example.org with your snail mail address and I’ll send it along.
Brian Hunt, Moonlight Brewing with two glasses of one of his three Wet Hop beers. Think it ws No. 1.
Below: Cynthia Kralj, Bistro’s co-owner, serves Triple Rock , Berkeley, head brewer Christian Kazakoff at the Wet Hop festival. Christian brought a firkin of Anniversary Ale. He put fresh Cascade hops in the firkin. Was it a hoppy beer. Yes indeed.
Photos by William Brand