Thursday, May 3, 2012

Hops, Hype, and IIPA

Just a short rambling for today. Work has successfully put my homebrewing endeavors on standby and drinking a couple pints of beer isn't the best thing to do when you get home dog-tired and have a splitting headache. Regardless, I have a particularly mean looking can of the Alchemist's Heady-Topper in the back of my refrigerator and I figure if there is a beverage out there that will make my headache go away, it's going to be a monstrously hoppy, eight percent Imperial IPA. For those of you unfamiliar with this beer, the buzz around town is that it's the East Coast's IIPA equivalent to the very popular Pliny the Elder. Some would even say its the best IIPA in the country. I really don't give a sh*t one way or another. All I know is that it tastes nice and the side effect of drinking it on an empty stomach are pretty similar to taking sedatives. Who knew sleep could be so delicious...

A few observations. I understand the whole "Drink From The Can" thing, since the beer is unpasteurized, unfiltered, and might be a tad cloudy due to all the hops. But damn, you'd think this beer would look a little better once you got it undressed. Besides from looking like carbonated papaya juice - it smells like it too - the beer has no head and has a lot of curdled yeast bits floating around. Mmm. All I'm saying is that if I received this beer on draft at a pub, I'd tell the bartender to get me a proper looking pint or give me my money back. I know cloudy looking beer is becoming more acceptable in the craft brewing world, but I still think a yeasty pint detracts from the malt and hops. Not to mention there are plenty of homebrewers and brewers out there producing brilliantly clear and hoppy beer without filtering or fining agents.

So you know I'm not complaining too much, the flavor of the beer is very, very nice. Lots of tropical, fruity hops with a touch of pine at the end. The bitterness is strong and lingering but not excessively so. The beer goes down very easily with no alcohol bite and the hop flavors are crisp and clean. I would like some real malt character in place of the yeasty flavors, but its good for what it is. The best....? Eh, I don't buy that. Definitely a tasty IIPA though.

Lastly, from a homebrewing perspective, I don't think this beer would be that difficult to reproduce, especially if we know the hop varieties used to brew it. And considering that some hop varieties like Simcoe, Citra, and Amarillo are becoming increasingly hard to get a hold of - especially for the little breweries - it would be interesting to see exactly what varieties and amounts they are using. Just today I picked up a few ounces of Zythos hops, one of those 'hop blends' that is supposed to imitate the aroma and flavor of the more popular citrusy IPA out there. Never used it before. Probably make an APA with it and some other stuff this weekend.

Ahup, the hops and alcohol are kicking in. Time to sleep... 

3 comments:

  1. Pliny The Elder

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  2. Had a conversation with the homebrew shop I frequent - and he may have been referencing this IPA, or some other, I'm not sure. He was talking about a beer that insisted he drink from the can and he thought that was stupid. But a fellow homebrewer and peer in the store, who had tried it before, insisted he drink it from the can...

    Long story short, he was sharing this over a sampling of the 'bottom' of the bottle of his own brewed IPA that he was sharing. He was saying he had made his own hop extract...more or less, some beers are now being designed so that the hop profile intentionally changes as you drink, due to the re-mixing after every sip of hop extract or some means of making certain hop-based thing naturally head toward the bottom, but if you pour it out, all that is lost.

    You may give this one another try from the can with that in mind, of e-mail the brewery on the 'why' and see what their explanation is.

    I don't personally like what metal on the lips does to the apparent taste of most drinks. This is especially critical when I drink teas...but even beer, even glass, I get a different experience depending on the thickness of the glass and for any beers that I am not shooting for light and refreshing, I want a thick walled glass.

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  3. Ah yes, alchemist...this must have been the same beer, because that was the brewery we were talking about and the one I remember him talking about having a can from...I've been to the brewpub, but was befuddled since I was unaware that they were letting their beer hit the shelf (as far as I remember, they insisted they would not do growler fills, even..)

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