Brewing a fresh-hops IPA is an art and a science. Many breweries will participate in the Sisters Fresh Hops Festival. PHOTO BY JAROD GATELY
Brewing a fresh-hops IPA is an art and a science. Many breweries will participate in the Sisters Fresh Hops Festival. PHOTO BY JAROD GATELY
The fresh hop IPA is brewed and the crisp air has the feel of harvest time. It must be the season for the Sisters Fresh Hop Festival.

Three Creeks Brewing Company will honor Oregon’s hops crop in the the 11th annual Sisters Fresh Hop Festival in Sisters on September 24, at their local production facility in the industrial park.

Before the Fresh Hop Festival, Three Creeks brews their award-winning Conelick’r fresh hop IPA. They began the process in mid-August during prime hop-growing season, as they use the hops directly, fresh from the vine. Three Creeks gets their fresh hops from B & C Hop Farms located in Woodburn. During the week of August 15, every morning, crew from Three Creeks drove to Woodburn to pick up fresh Centennial hops for creating the Conelick’r fresh hop IPA.

Ross Duckery, Marketing Director for Three Creeks spoke with The Nugget during a visit to the brewing facility. The facility has a 30-barrel setup, and each batch of fresh hop IPA takes 300 lbs. of hops.

The brewing process is quite different from normal beer brewing, because they are dealing with the fresh hop from the vine versus ground- up hops and grains.

“The Pacific Northwest is one of the best hops producing regions in the nation, with Oregon being the No. 3 hop producing state in the country; the Midwest region can’t do things with fresh hops and this style of brew,” said Duckery.

The brewing process is a complex scientific mixture of using grains, bitter hops, malt flavoring, yeast, and kettle boiling. The process takes several brewers and days to process especially using fresh hops.

“We soak the hops and spin the hops in a kettle and then using that, we steep them to get the flavor from the fresh hops, which is a lot fresher and cleaner tasting, and pump them into the whirlpool,” said Duckery.

After the steeping and boiling process, they put the content in with yeast. There the yeast eats the sugars, begins to ferment, and produces alcohol. The brew sits in barrels for two weeks in the yeast, one of the reasons they must start the process with the fresh hops so far in advance of the Festival and canning process. When the hops arrive from Woodburn each morning, they immediately throw them in the kettle and churn them, to get the most amount of hop flavor out of them as it has to be brewed within 24 hours of receiving them off the vine. According to Three Creeks website on the Festival: “The only time fresh hop beer can be created is during harvest season in late summer, early fall. Think of it as an herb: Dried vs. fresh. You will still get the herbal notes from the dried herb, but when it’s fresh, you can taste the difference.” Hence one of the reasons they use fresh hops for this IPA and why it won a gold medal at the American Beer Festival.

Using fresh hops is a unique way to create a beer. You get the most flavor from the hop, which provides the sweetness, bitterness, aroma, and flavor of a certain beer.Typically, the fresh hop beer adds a citrusy, woody, and peppery flavor to the India Pale Ale that Three Creeks produces every year for the fresh hop festival.

Conelick’r won the gold medal at the Great American Beer Festival in 2020 for its indescribable flavors and aromas packed into every pint, with the use of hops from vine to kettle and the Woodburn fresh centennial hops. According to a review from Northwest Beer Guide, “The abundance of hop resins creates a subtle spiciness, along with the classic orange-rind and floral notes of fresh Centennial hops. Harvest only comes once a year, so don’t miss your chance to bring home this award-winning beer.”

Conelick’r IPA is currently on tap at the Three Creeks Pub in Sisters and they are starting to can the product for the Festival and for sales.

This year, the Fresh Hop Festival will be in its 11th year, after halting for the last two years due to the pandemic. Sisters Fresh Hop Festival showcases fresh hop beers from 20+ Oregon breweries alongside live music, food carts, and more. As a charity event, previous years raised over $10,000 for Ronald McDonald House Charities.

“We love to be able to support families in our community with this event. We put it on hold the last two years, but we are happy to be back with over 20 breweries on board,” said Duckery. “The festival follows the standard brewfest formula with booths of tasting from different breweries.”

Three Creeks partners with a few nonprofits throughout Central Oregon, to host the event, which this year supports the Ronald McDonald House, Circle of Friends, and the Oregon Brewers Guild. They also have several presenting sponsors this year, including Ray’s Food Place, The Source, Hoodoo, and Bigfoot Beverages. There are over 20 breweries on board for this year’s Festival, including Deschutes, Crux, Sunriver, and many more from the Central Oregon area.

There will be music from Oregon Fryer with special guest Tony Lompa. The Festival takes place from noon to 6 p.m. at the production facility located at: 265 E. Barclay Drive. There will also be food trucks available.

For tickets and information visit www.sistersfreshhopfest.com.

You can get your tickets in advance by visiting tickets.layitoutevents.com/events/sisters-fresh-hop-festival-9-24-2022.