Although we have made many "wet-hop" ales over the years, McMenamins Breweries unleashed a grand experiment on September 2, 2010, as we attempted our first company-wide fresh-hop ale experiment: The brewing of Thundercone Fresh Hop Ale.
After picking up a mountain of fresh-off-the-vine Cascade cones from a grower in Salem, Ore., the hops were immediately divvied up among brewery managers who turned around and hit the pavement hard en route to 21 McMenamins breweries spanning two states. The mission was to get the beautiful (and very aromatic) green Cascades from the fields in Salem all the way into beers up north in Mill Creek, Wa., down south in Roseburg, Ore., and all points in between within hours of when they were harvested.
As this grand transport was unfolding, brewing of the Thundercone was already in progress. As the hops were moving up and down I-5, Highway 20, through Seattle and all over the Portland Metro area, kettles were filling with the golden sweet wort at the ale's base. The largess of this experiment manifested itself quickly, and the day took on a sense of adventure as pictures came in from points afar of the waiting brewers receiving their flower deliveries. This is the first time ever that 21 of our breweries have united in producing the same recipe at the same time -- the synergy involved a thing of beauty and wonder. To put it another way -- the only beer brewed by McMenamins on September 2, 2010, was Thundercone.
Thundercone Fresh Hop Ale will be released on September 22, 2010, at all McMenamins locations. Replacing the Scarecrow ESB as our Fall Seasonal offering, this is a one-batch-per-brewery ale due to the complicated logistics explained here. We don't expect it to last long, so make a point of trying some as near to the release date as possible!