Northwest Military Blogs: Served blog

July 21, 2014 at 7:15am

Beer Here: Clusterf#ck tasting at Cooper Point Public House in Olympia

Claire Tenenbaum keeps Double Mountain Brewery beers flowing in the South Sound. Photo credit: Pappi Swarner

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Hop growing in the Pacific Northwest region of the United States is a proud tradition dating back to the late 19th century. Ideal growing conditions and highly skilled producers make our region home to some of the finest hops in the world.

The Late Cluster hop is the oldest American variety grown continuously in the Northwest. Known as the Pacific Coast Cluster, it was widely grown at the turn of the century and was the leading cultivar, until the decline of acreage in California and Oregon was counter-balanced with the growth of the hop industry in Washington, where the Early Cluster became dominant. Until the late 1970s, Cluster was one of only a few varieties growing in the U.S. and accounted for most of the country's hop acreage.  It is an excellent general-purpose hop with well-balanced bittering potential and aroma properties. The storage stability of its alpha acids is among the best in the world.

Today, Crystal, Chinook, Centennial, Cascade and Citra are the hop varietals currently en vogue at craft breweries across the nation.

What about Cluster?

Cluster is not grown in the capacity it once was, it has faced a similar fate as many varieties falling to the shadows of the more bitter hops previously mentioned. Cluster's flavor profile and bitterness ranking make it ideal for moderately light ales. Still, Cluster production in Washington state has grown by 45 percent in the last five years.

Double Mountain Brewery & Taproom in Hood River, Ore., is a fan of this early American hero hop. Cluster is the star in the brewery's seasonal Clusterf#ck Single Hop IPA, which has been released mid-June since 2011. Claire Tenenbaum, who has been with Double Mountain for the last four years, lived in Hood River for the first three, but now lives in Tacoma, held the beer's Western Washington release during a brewer's night at The Copper Door in Tacoma's Stadium District June 26.

"We use the Cluster in every stage of the brewing process - in the kettle, the hop oil and again in the fermenter for dry-hopping - so you're going to get delicate floral note at the top, the nose of the citrus on the hop side, and this really delicate bitter hop at the end. It's real clean, at 7.3, with an 85 IBU," explains Tenenbaum.

Pilsner and honey malts are used to form the baseline.

Dipping the nose in the pint, I'm hit with malt, citrus zest and grapefruit juice. Taste is much the same with citrus zest, grapefruit juice and slight herbal hop flavors on the finish. It is, indeed, clean, with a slightly crisp mouth feel. This is a delicious, IPA porch rocking chair sipper.

"This year's Cluster has a sunny glow, and it dried out really well. It's cluckful of flusters, and with the dryness the hop aroma really pops," says brewer and Double Mountain proprietor Matt Coughlin in a release. Obviously, I had to include the quote in this column.

Tenenbaum will be pouring Clusterf#ck Single Hop IPA from 6-9 p.m. Wednesday, July 23 at the Cooper Point Public House in West Olympia. She'll also pour Double Mountain Brewery's Kolsch-In Cologne (unfiltered and generously hopped), Homestead-Orange (drinkable Northwest pale ale) and Lil Red Pils (generous amounts of Vienna and Munich malts with Yakima-grown noble hops).

If you can't make the Double Mountain Brewer's Night at Cooper Point Public House, you can find Clusterf#ck in Olympia at Eastside Club Tavern and Total Wine & More; in Tacoma at Dorky's Arcade, Pint Defiance, The Copper Door, Tacoma Boys and Total Wine and More; in Bonney Lake at NW Caps N Taps; and the Total Wine & More in Puyallup, just to name a few.

BEER HERE

Wednesday, July 23

The Rainy Daze Brewing folks will hang at the Puyallup River Alehouse in downtown Puyallup from 6-9 p.m. Brew master Mike Montoney will be there. Glassware giveaways and raffle prizes induce more daze.

Sierra Nevada will drop by The Swiss Restaurant and Pub in downtown Tacoma for a Brewers Night from 6-9 p.m. The Hoptmum Imperial IPA and New Developed Hop IPA have been released. Will they pour at The Swiss?

Uinta Brewing will take one down and pass it around at 99 Bottles in Federal Way from 5-7 p.m. West Coast sales guy Joe Mastrorocco will be in the house.

Thursday, July 24

The Copper Door in Tacoma's Stadium District hosts those pioneers from Alaskan Brewing Co. beginning at 6 p.m.

See Also

Cooper Point Public House strives for Northwest feel

Filed under: New Beer Column Olympia
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About this blog

Served, a blog by the Weekly Volcano, is the region’s feedbag of fresh chow daily, local restaurant news, New Beer Column, bar and restaurant openings and closings, breaking culinary news and breaking culinary ground - all brought to the table with a dollop of Internet frivolity on top.

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