The other night, I had a buddy over to try the Fresh Hop Frenz IPA put together by Bale Breaker and Russian River, and Hop Massager by Old Schoolhouse. I told him that Fresh Hop Frenz had recently won a contest for fresh hops IPA from Best of Craft Beer Awards.
My friend, we will call him Jacob, (not Jake, Jacob), is an old-time beer drinker, and about ten years my senior. I prefer going with him to try beers because he is the only one of my friends who can keep up with me and has as much experience with good beer, if not a bit more, as I do. The other thing about him is that he is the kind of guy who never likes whatever everyone else likes....on principle. He is one of those guys. I actually struggled with telling him about this beer, Fresh Hop Frenz, winning an award, because I suspected that his reaction might be somewhat tainted by the information that it won Gold in a contest for Fresh Hops. He and I have been drinking a ton of fresh hop beers lately as I am such a fiend for them and the window of opportunity on them is so narrow. I thought he would be a good person to drink these with as he had had so many of the fresh hops that I had had this season.
As we were sampling both the Fresh Hop Frenz IPA and the Hop Massager to compare the two, I was waiting for him to tell me that somehow the Fresh Hop Frenz wasn't that good. As we drank our beers, I commented on the brightness, the dankness, the freshness of the beer, and for about ten minutes, he said very little. He would sip, lift his beer higher to look at the color in the light, scratch his scraggly- grey bearded chin, and utter something like: "humph." I was a little surprised at first, then, this surprise morphed into disappointment. I was hoping for something...anything to add to the blog about this beer.
While we were cleansing our palettes with Totchos, he finally broke. "We have certainly had more complex beers...just last week, in fact." I looked up from my plate of tots, smiled, and asked, "oh, really? Which ones?"
He stammered for a few seconds, then conceded that he could not think of any of the names of the beers we had been drinking the week before, or the week before that, for that matter, but added that he didn't think the beer was that great. Classic Jacob. One of the great things about him is that his memory is shit. It comes in handy in times like these when he is being all high and mighty.
I let him know that he was full of it, but conceded that the beer might have lost some punch if it had been sitting in the can for any amount of time. "Either way, it's better than Hop Massager." He offered after his half-wheezing half-laughing fit came to an end. I agreed. As we sat finishing our tots, he offered up, "I might be partial, but I will take a Bellingham beer any day over this stuff." Jacob is a native. He was born here and his plan is to die here. "Bellingham beers are just better, I think it's the water. It's the same reason the coffee here is better." Jacob is nothing if not loyal.
At the end of the day, I realized a few things; one, Hop Frenz is fucking amazing and I'm glad I had a chance to drink one before the fresh hop season ended, two, Jacob is full of shit but he knows his beers, and three, I live in a great town for beers because there are so many people here who love them. Even if some of them are somewhat high-handed in their tastes and expressions regarding beers.