About two weeks ago, we ran a story on The Brickskeller’s announcement to launch a two-night beer tasting extravaganza with Tomme Arthur, the current brewer at Port Brewing Company and The Lost Abbey, and former head of the Pizza Port locations.  This past Tuesday and Wednesday, Tomme was at The Brick with some incredible beer.

The Wednesday event started off with Bob Tupper giving a nice introduction of Tomme and the Pizza Port locations. 67497_10100258642749670_1924838_60569259_1959029_n Tomme started at the Solana Beach location in 1997, garnering a total of 13 Great American Beer Festival (GABF) awards in his eight-year tenure there.  In 2006, Tomme opened up Port Brewing, which is now under separate control from the Pizza Port locations.

Tomme had a wonderful presentation on all the joys of fresh hops, complete with a video of the folks at Weyerbacher harvesting some of their home-grown varieties.  He stated that the presentation reflected the fact that he used to want to be an English teacher that he “used to be a dork,” but now he “make[s] beer for a living.”  He explained that fresh hops equal wet hops equal goodness, and that these fresh hops have a great “greenness” of flavor that you just can’t get from hops that have been stored for longer periods of time.

Throughout his talk, the staff at The Brick kept us moving from one fresh, bitter brew to the next.  Here’s the order:

1. Pizza Port Solana Beach‘s Low Tide Fresh Hop Pale Ale: This is a very nice fresh-hop ale with pine and flora characteristics.  The brewers used 180 pounds of hops in their seven-barrel batch of this beer.


2. Weyerbacher’s Harvest Ale: This is a nice beer hopped with Cascade hops straight from the brewery’s farm.

3. Pizza Port Carlsbad‘s Plant to Pint: A beer from the Pizza Port location that has won an astounding 19 GABF medals in the past three years, including the 2009 AND 2010 award for best large brewpub of the year.  Here, their brewer Jeff Bagby has created a really nice wet-hop ale with the bring, “green” flavor you expect from the best freshly-picked hops.

4. Pizza Port San Clemente‘s Riptide: This beer from the folks who won the 2010 GABF award for some small brewpub of the year featured great additions of Centennial and Simcoe hops, leading to a nice citrus and pine flavor.

5. Pizza Port Ocean Beach‘s Get Wet:  This comes from Pizza Port’s newest location and is an absolutely bruisingly-bitter ale with bright citrus and green, leafy flavors.

6. Sierra Nevada‘s Northern Hemisphere Harvest Ale: Started in 1996, this from the folks in Chico who really know their hops, featuring Cascade and Centennial hops brought in as fresh as possible from the Yakima Valley in Washington state.

7. Sierra Nevada‘s Estate Homegrown Ale:  This brew features both hops and malt that were grown on the brewery’s California property.  This beer features some nice grapefruit and spicy characteristics courtesy of homegrown fresh hops.

8. Port Brewing Company’s High Tide Fresh Hop IPA: This seasonal brew is named after San Diego’s Fall tide swings with a recipe that changes from year to year, featuring only the best and freshest Chinook or Centennial hops.  While not available in the DC area, this is one of the great brews you can order online from some of the final online retails we have discussed, including Beverages4Less and South Bay Drugs.

And then, the surprise of the evening…

9.  Port Brewing’s Mongo Double IPA: This treat is rarely seen outside out California, seldomly making appearances at ultimate beer-geek destinations such as Capone’s near Philadelphia.  It has a solid “A” on Beer Advocate and is listed on that site’s list of the Top 50 American Imperial IPAs.  While this uber-hopped beer isn’t necessarily fresh-hopped, it packs quite a citrus and pine punch with a nice, dry finish.

This was another excellent event by Dave and the rest of the Brickskeller crew.  It was beautifully hosted by Bob, and Tomme was absolutely outstanding in the his presentation and the magnificently hoptastic brews that he brought along.

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