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Question for Portlanders: Finding Hops Free Beer - Synchronicity swirls and other foolishness

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January 3rd, 2007


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10:11 pm - Question for Portlanders: Finding Hops Free Beer
I enjoy good wine, I love hard cider, but I don't like beer. From trying various sorts and also reading about the history of brewing, what I have found is that what I don't like is hops. To me, they taste exceedingly nasty. Prior to the last few centuries, much beer was brewed w/o hops, using all manner of herbs and suchlike, some of which sound absolutely delicious. So, this being one of the microbrew capitols of the US, does anyone know where I can acquire such beers in Portland (either in bars or in stores, preferably in stores, since if I find one I like, it would be nice to have some on hand).

My particular interests are in Dogfish Head Brewery's Midas Touch ale and spurce-tip ale. I also prefer bottom fermented ales to lagers and other top-fermented brews. Also, any hop-free holiday brews with cinnamon and similar spices also sounds yummy. So, does anyone know where such things can be acquired in Portland?
Current Mood: hopefulhopeful

(16 comments | Leave a comment)

Comments:


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From:rm
Date:January 4th, 2007 06:13 am (UTC)
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You might want to try some of the Sorghum-based gluten-free beers, which also don't contain hopps. I think one of the brands (the name of which escapes me) comes from your part of the world.
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From:heron61
Date:January 4th, 2007 06:28 am (UTC)
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Thanks muchly, that sounds potentially quite interesting. If you remember the name of it, please let me know.
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From:rm
Date:January 4th, 2007 06:31 am (UTC)
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Next time I go to gluten-free pasta and beer night I'll find out for you.
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From:rialian
Date:January 4th, 2007 06:18 am (UTC)
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===The Midas Touch stuff is very, very good....actually, I have liked everything I have had by that brewery.

===Next time you are about, we would be glad to take you to their ale pub that is near us...(grins)
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From:alobar
Date:January 4th, 2007 08:27 am (UTC)
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I never considered why I loathe beer. I tried it 3 or 4 times when I was young, and have avoided it ever since. As I need to be on a low carb diet now, I won't be experimenting, but I am curious.
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From:dreamlibrary
Date:January 4th, 2007 08:57 am (UTC)
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the best of luck on your search, and i hope you post the results. it sounds like you're going to uncover some unusual tastes. me, i'm a hops junkie. when they can pry me loose from the stout, that is. but what a wonderful idea. i could try something that might surprise me!
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From:alephnul
Date:January 4th, 2007 09:00 am (UTC)
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Dogfish is distributed in Oregon by Columbia Distributing. The phone number of the Portland office is 503-289-9600. If you called them, I'm sure they could tell you what local stores order Dogfish's Midas Touch from them.

Belmont station carries some Dogfish Head ales, but not Midas Touch. I emailed them to ask if they could special order, and also if any of the beers they normally carry are hopless. I'll let you know what they say.

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From:heron61
Date:January 4th, 2007 09:12 am (UTC)
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Thank you muchly. While I know that I want one of my Epiphany gifts from you or someone in your household to be a well-formatted stack of Torchwood eps 4-13, someone else getting me a selection of one bottle each of several nifty hops-free beers to try out would be a good gift.
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From:alephnul
Date:January 4th, 2007 09:02 am (UTC)
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From:epinoid
Date:January 4th, 2007 12:30 pm (UTC)
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OK not exactly what you asking for but you might like the fruit infused Belgian lambics, like Lindemann's Framboise or Kriek or one of the other brewers like Boon's.

I would be interested in your thoughts on Midas Touch - I have had a bottle for probably a bit too long but have been hesitant to open it in case I didn't like it. I have to agree hops are nasty.
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From:moominmuppet
Date:January 4th, 2007 04:07 pm (UTC)
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I love Lindemann's Framboise. It's the only beer I've ever finished. I'm finding this post and comments fascinating, since I'd like to find some other beers I like, too.
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From:onyxrising
Date:January 4th, 2007 03:15 pm (UTC)
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If I recall you are quite domestic. Have you thought about brewing your own? The Portland Homebrewing club mostly focuses on beers, as I recall.
And hey, if you can find a good hops free recipe, even I might be interested in brewing some.
You can't get it in the 'states, but the best beer I've had was a spruce-tip made by SilverGulch brewery in Fox, Alaska. When my parents come down this spring, I'm begging them to bring some. I shall make sure to reserve a bottle to bring over to share.
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From:yukon_jack
Date:January 4th, 2007 07:05 pm (UTC)
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Not a Portlander, obviously, but I ran this past a homebrewing/beer nerd pal of mine here in Columbus and he pointed out that very few beers don't use hops at all.

One thing Mike pointed out that I was not aware of, is that the Pacific Northwest is traditionally known for some of the most bitter, high alpha acid content, "hoppy" tasting beers in the world so your regional breweries may not have anything lighter in hops.

Some traditional UK ales, like Samuel Smith, are extremely light on hops (since my understanding is that "ale" was originally "beer" brewed without hops) but I don't know how extreme your dislike of that taste is.

Dogfishhead has a whole line based on historical recipes that are pre-hops, Mike said the Midas Touch is the best of the lot but a close second is Chateau Jiahu which is supposed to be based on an ancient Chinese brew using rice, honey and fruit.

If you can find anything Belgian listed as a cervoise, allegedly those are sans hops, but Belgian biere tend to have a sweeter, lighter taste even if some hops are involved in the brewing process. The trappist ales almost have a wine-like taste.

Also, if you haven't had them before, definitely score some Lindeman's lambics, as was suggested earlier. The cherry and raspberry are personal favorites of mine but they're all good and since you like hard cider I can't imagine you not enjoying a good lambic.

Happy hunting, and keep us posted because I'm interested in your findings myself!
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From:heron61
Date:January 5th, 2007 08:41 am (UTC)
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It's definitely not just PNW beer, since I found beer equally bitter tasting when I lived in St. Louis and Madison Wisconsin. I've had beer that are light on hops and they are better, but not desirable, except for some of the fruit lambics (which I quite like), where the fruit flavors are strong enough to largely cover the hops taste. I'll definitely give some of the Belgian ales a try, since a store near me has a good selection of them.
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From:eklectick
Date:January 4th, 2007 09:51 pm (UTC)
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Yup - your part of the country is well-known for having the hoppiest ales on the planet. Hops are added as a preservative. Pre-hops, other herbs were common: heather, lavendar, angelica, artemesia (wormwood), pine resins. The books Sacred and Herbal Healing Beers, and A Sip Through TIme have recipes, as does a Rhialian fave Wild Fermentation. Try local liquor stores that have lot's of imports. Let's see... I have some bottles set aside to taste - I was looking for other-than-hops, but some of them might include hops (complete exclusion wasn't the criterion). Ahhh, found them. Looky here: http://www.fraoch.com/historicales.htm . Heather, elderberry, pine, even seaweed ale. The gooseberry ale does have hops listed as an ingredient, the others don't seem to.

I treble the recommendation for the Lindeman's lambics, which are readily available for the past two years. If you like those, there are other fruit-infused (but still not sweet) Belgian ales to try. You might be a "taster." That is you taste bitter flavors more than the rest of us. There is nothing wrong with sweetening your drinks at table - all of our ancestors who could afford to did so - only in the last hundred years has there been a fashion of drinking unadulterated wines and beers as they come from the container, and a fad of liking dry and bitter over sweet flavors.
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From:Heather Weisenfels
Date:September 15th, 2011 01:17 am (UTC)

Sorry I bumped this up, I no it's old but wanted to give some info on the hops free beer :c)

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Hop Free Beers:
For hop-free ales, you should try the ancient style of beer called 'Gruit.' This is beer made with bittering herbs other than hops. These herbs usually consist of things like rosemary, yarrow, mugwart, sweet gale, seaweed, nettle, pine, Irish moss and heather. A resilient shrub that adds a nice dryness to beer but not the bitterness typical of hops, heather is perhapsthe most popular choice for a hop alternative.  It's flavor tends to be more flowery and grassy than hops, with a smooth, clean finish.

Here are a couple of hop-free choices:

13th Century Grut Bier - Brauerei Weihenstephan - Freising, Germany:  Super complex, herbaceous, lemon, ginger, rosemary, light and tart.  4.6% ABV.

Fraoch Heather Ale - Williams Bros. Brewing – Scotland: Floral, peaty aroma, light spicy herbal flavor and dry wine-like finish.  5% ABV.

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