Hopfest has developed quite a following over the last four years. According to Andrea Keller, marketing director for Frederick, "The beer geeks clamor for it. They call us, they e-mail us, they buy up the Hopfest in a week. We are making 2,000 cases of it and it will sell out quickly." Hopfest is an unfiltered brown ale with natural carbonation. If you detect a hint of chocolate, you’re right; chocolate malted barley is used in the recipe. The other four malts include 2-row Pale, Caramel l40, Munich 20 and Carapil. Look for a big floral hop nose which perfectly complements the kind of sweet maltiness you’d expect in a brown ale. Hopfest finishes on a sweet, dry, bitter note with a lingering roasted character. Overall, a very complex and flavorful malt profile coupled with a heap of hop flavor throughout.
In 1997, Frederick came out with the first beer in America -- the Hempen Ale -- to be brewed with hemp seeds. In the fall of that year Frederick also brewed a second beer brewed with hemp -- the Hempen Gold, which is a lighter cream ale. Frederick Brewing is one of the fastest-growing craft breweries in America. Housed in one of only two purpose-built craft breweries on the East Coast, Frederick has a capacity of 20,000 barrels. The Brewery is the Mid-Atlantic's largest craft brewery. Most notably it was included in Food & Wine Magazine's 1998 editor's choice of America's top breweries. In selecting the winners, the editors of the magazine said they relied upon the "informed opinions of bartenders, beer writers and editors and industry analysts." The editors also researched the results of ten years' worth of beer festival contests to see which breweries performed the most consistently.
Every Fall, in celebration of the hop harvest, Frederick brews the Hopfest. As the name implies, the beer has an uncommonly high hop content. It is brewed with three times as much hops per barrel as an average beer, Nordahl said. Each year, a different hop is used exclusively throughout the brewing of the Hopfest -- this year it is a hop called Ahtanum -- and the hop is used 12 times in the brewing! "We try to capture every essence of that hop in liquid form," Nordahl said. "We accentuate the hop aroma so that you can actually taste the hop. That's what makes the Hopfest Ale so unique."
When the workers at Frederick Brewing Co. realized they were running out of Hopfest Brown Ale last fall, they took 16 kegs and squirreled them away, securing them for their private consumption. "It's a fabulous beer," said Steve Nordahl, a Vice President at Frederick Brewing who happily helped his staff drain the secret kegs. "Whenever people ask me what [food] the Hopfest goes with, I say, 'Another Hopfest, followed by another and another and another.' We love it."
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