I couldn't make it to the Fresh Hop Fest in Hood River last week and for whatever reason I wasn't that excited about the Fresh Hop Fest at Oaks Park this week. In fact I was pretty sure I'd skip it. Then Saturday dawned bright and beautiful and with no other competing plans I had a change of heart.
As per our usual plan we got there early, about half an hour into the fest and there was an expectedly light crowd. It took longer to decide what beer to get than it did to actually get it. As often happens we ran into some beer drinking friends and settled into a routine of chatting, wandering off for more beer and rejoining the group.
Then, suddenly it seemed, the tent started filling up at a very swift pace. According to a tweet from the Oregon Brewers Guild, "We had as many people by 3pm as we did last year at this years Fresh Hop Fest - sorry about running out of beers." Thankfully by the time the lines were getting longer than I wanted to wait in I had made it through the beers I was most interested in trying and I didn't feel bad switching over to a full pour to finish off the afternoon. Another stroke of luck that my favorite beer of the fest, Fresh Hop Farmhouse from The Commons Brewery, wasn't one of the kegs that had blown.
Beyond The Commons' offering I enjoyed Sasquatch Fresh Hopped Healy Heights, Deschutes King Cone and Pelican Elemental Ale. A surprising number I found to be only OK, ones I would have been disappointed to have ordered a full pint of and there were a few stinkers in the lot. Overall though it was a very enjoyable afternoon of drinking beers with friends and even making a new friend with a beer traveler from New Jersey.
After note: Although we went early and didn't experience the full extent of the problem of blown kegs I found it very unsettling that friends who showed up later did. Beyond that, it sounds as though the festival organizers were not informing people about the substantial lack of beer, leaving this unpleasant discovery once they had purchased their glasses and tickets and went in search of beer. Hopefully they'll make better contingent plans for the future.