McMenamins Thundercone Fresh Hop Ale 2015

This year’s version (2015) of McMenamins Thundercone Fresh Hop Ale is out. It was released Friday, 18 September at all locations. Get it while you can!

This year’s was made with fresh Simcoe hops from Sodbuster Farms. For those keeping track at home, I was given this growler for free, as I was last year and the year before.

I shared it with six or so friends the day after it was given to me. I did behave and leave the growler sealed, although I was tempted Friday eve to dip in early.

I found it quite tasty and apologize for having little to say about this year’s batch. Aroma of light citrus and very light caramel. Color: Not entirely clear orange. “Bright” with a nice generic base bitterness.

I definitely enjoyed it—one of the best fresh hop beers I’ve had so far in 2015; which would be four different ones so far—but I did like last year’s a lot more. That has nothing to do with the quality of the beer but with my hop preferences.

From McMenamins website:

McMenamins staffers headed to Sodbuster Farms on the outskirts of Salem, Oregon, to collect this year’s hop harvest of Simcoe hops-a first for us! We delivered the Simcoes to 20 McMenamins Breweries all over Washington and Oregon, henceforth known as “The Running of the Brewers.” Each batch of Thundercone Fresh Hop Ale is brewed within hours of the hops being picked off of the vine. This is a daunting task but one that the McMenamins Brewers feel is well worth the monumental coordination involved. The resulting beer is an absolute fresh hop showcase, marked this year with pine and citrus characteristics from the Simcoes. Thundercone is on tap at all locations-while it lasts!

Malts: Canada Malting Superior Pilsen Malt, Franco Belges Caramel Munich 40
Hops: Simcoe
OG: 1.061 TG: 1.013 ABV: 6.19% IBU: 56 SRM: 7

Give it try before it is all gone. It may well be at the Sisters 5th Annual Fresh Hop Fest this Saturday, September 26th. Hope to see you there!

McMenamins Thundercone Fresh Hop Ale 2014

Yesterday morning I picked up a growler of Mike “Curly” White’s 2014 version of McMenamins Thundercone Fresh Hop Ale, which will be released Friday 19 September.

[Disclaimer: I received this beer for free, if that matters to you.]

I reviewed this beer last year also. Seems I liked it quite a bit but I liked this year’s even more. This year’s (the 5th year) uses fresh Brewer’s Gold (5 lbs / barrel) in three hop additions. There are some dried Chinook used in first wort hopping but they are very minimal in impact. It uses Pilsener malt for the base and some Belgian Caramel malt for color and flavor. See the link in 1st paragraph for more info from the source.

McMenamins Thundercone Fresh Hop Ale 2014 - quite tasty

McMenamins Thundercone Fresh Hop Ale 2014 – quite tasty

Aroma-wise I got very light citrus, faintly lemony, and caramel once it began warming a bit. The color is a cloudy orange. I was unable to get much of a head from the growler even with vigorous pouring but presentation isn’t everything. A better head would help with the aroma, too, though. On draft it may have a fine head.

This is a big, chewy, full-bodied ale, resulting from both the malt and unfermented sugars but also full of the earthiness of the fresh Brewers gold hops. Floral, yet softly bitter in the finish. More-ish.

This is a very more-ish beer. It just helps you along to want another sip after each of the previous ones. I drank almost the entirety of a 64 oz. growler by myself. This is not a beer I would want every day but I want it once a year, every year, for the short period it can be available. OK. I want it more than that but this is even more of an agricultural product than beer is normally and I can live in a world with these constraints.

Lots of fresh hop beers are IPAs and if that is your thing fine but try to leave any preconceptions/biases aside and give this a try on Friday or shortly thereafter. Drink a pint and see if it doesn’t jump help you along and leave you wanting another.

Also, for all you Cascade hop fans, which is what was used for the previous years Thundercone, please give this year’s Brewer’s Gold version a try. Provide feedback in whichever way works for you.

McMenamins Thundercone Fresh Hop Ale will be released at all 22 McMenamins breweries on Friday, Sep. 19th. I can’t speak for all 22 versions but I loved my local Bend brewer’s version.

By the way, McMenamins Old St. Francis School in Bend is having an Oktoberfest this Saturday. Great chance to get yourself some Thundercone.

[Disclaimer, in case you missed it the first time: I received this beer for free, if that matters to you.]

Last night’s very buzzed Facebook review:

Hey #inBend go get some of Curly White’s Thundercone Fresh Hop Ale atMcMenamins Old St. Francis School this Friday. Excellent! Very more-ish.

I’ll be writing a post tomorrow but I got a growler of this as-yet-unreleased fresh hop ale today. I drank most of the growler myself this evening. Just couldn’t stop.

It’s got a little early bitterness from some dried Chinook but is really all fresh Brewer’s Gold giving an amazing full, earthiness. Probably the biggest bodied fresh hop beer I have ever had.

Yes. I got this beer for free, But no one drinks a growler of a beer that isn’t good. I don’t anyway.

Last year I linked to Jon’s review at The Brew Site and will do again. See his for a bit more detail, especially in his tasting notes. Again, we both say go forth on Friday and taste this for yourself.

McMenamins Thundercone Fresh Hop Ale

McMenamins Thundercone Fresh Hop Ale is released today, Friday the 13th, in Bend. Overcome your lingering superstitions and go enjoy some.

On Wednesday, 11 September 2013, I stopped by McMenamins Old St. Francis School Brewery to pick up a growler of their newest seasonal Thundercone Fresh Hop Ale. It isn’t officially released (in Bend) until Friday the 13th (today) but the brewery offered me a growler full in advance and I gladly accepted.

This is my first fresh hop beer of the year and I was really looking forward to it. It took all of my willpower not to dip into the growler on Wednesday evening but my friend Miles couldn’t join me until Thursday so I held off.

Nice Thundercone sticker also given to me. I really like McMenamins designs.

Nice Thundercone sticker also given to me. I really like McMenamins designs.

You can learn about Thundercone from the McMenamins website.

It is a one-batch companywide release and when it is gone it is gone. This is its 4th year according to the promotional flyer they provided me. Thundercone uses Pilsener and Belgian Caramel malt and is bittered with dried Chinook hops. Five pounds per barrel of fresh Cascade hops from Sodbuster Farms is then added in three additions to every batch.

Last night Miles and I dove in. We used the Sierra Nevada Spiegelau IPA glass and a Nonic pint glass to see what aroma differences we could detect. The Spiegelau IPA glass, in my experience, directly enhances the hop aromas but does little to nothing that otherwise affects the taste.

Thundercone Fresh Hop Ale in a Nonic pint, growler, and a Spiegelau IPA glass, and a sticker.

Thundercone Fresh Hop Ale in a Nonic pint, growler, and a Spiegelau IPA glass, along with a sticker.

In the aroma I got a bit of the caramel from the malt, along with an earthy, grassy hop aroma with just a hint of fruit. The Spiegelau glass heightened the fruitiness and brought out a bit of the grapefruit one would expect from Cascade hops. Clearly, the fresh Cascades are an entirely different beast than their dried sisters. Color was a cloudy dark orange. I suspect minimal filtering, which helped provide a creamy, medium-bodied drink. In the flavor the grassy, earthy qualities come through, along with a bit of, to me, more general citrus. This was a highly drinkable beer and Miles and I made short work of the growler.

Alcohol: 6.19% • IBU: 56 • SRM: 7

Thank you, McMenamins for the beer, growler and sticker!

For another perspective on this beer, see Jon’s post at The Brew Site.

I believe we both recommend you seek some out while you can.

Disclaimer: This beer and a growler to hold it were provided to me free of charge by McMenamins Old St. Francis School pub as an unsolicited PR item with no expectation of anything in return.