Seems like this is the season to be celebrating the hop flower and all its splendor. We here at Brewpublic have been posting a lot about love for lupulins, making creative beers without them, and even the sad idea of a world without them. Since the harvest has been, well, harvested, it looks like a good year for those with a taste for hoppy grog. Brewers from all around the world and across the country have reaped the benefits of the sticky nugs that are native to the Pacific Northwest. Here’s a glympse at what we consider “must have” beers for hop heads.
Moylans Hopsickle IIPA: We’d have to be living in a cave with druids sippin’ gruits to overlook this wonderfully robust hop monster (9.2% ABV). Perhaps the most floral and complex big beers of our time, this “Triple India Pale Ale” from Novato, CA is gushing with Tomahawks, Centennials and Cascades and dripping with a spectrum of refreshing potency. Deep orangy amber body reveals sticky resinous notes that linger for days. You can actually feel the high alphas warming your temples after a hardy dose of this brew.
Dogfish Head 120 Minute IPA: Dubbed an IPA, this so-called beer plays more like hop schnapps. An occasional release rarity from the brewery that uses the tag “Off-centered beer for off-centered people”, we laugh to think of this gigantuan as “an unbalanced beer for unbalanced people.” Boiled for two hours while continuously being spiced with high-alpha Northwest hops (you’re welcome, Delaware), the 120 is brewed to 45 freakin’ plato! The end result is a whopping 20% ABV and well over 120 IBU. The Dogfish Head proclaims this beer to be “the Holy Grail for hopheads.” We’re not sure about that, but we believe it’s undoubtedly worth your attention.
Port Brewing Hop-15: From San Diego, a town known for making exaggerated use of the Northwest hop, Port Brewing’s Hop-15 was originally craft by brewers Tomme Arthur and Jeff Bagby in 2002 in celebration of the brewery’s 15th anniversary of Pizza Port’s Solana Beach location. Making use of 15 sticky hop varietals added to the boil every 15 minutes, the Hop-15 is a year-round product of Port (we can see the hop fields shrink as we drink this beer). Winner of 2008’s Alpha King Award at the GABF, the 9.7% ABV bohemoth is a real kick in the taste buds. Port Brewing 2nd Anniversary quadrupel IPA and their amazingly green High Tide Fresh Hop IPA are in the same ballpark of steroidal Lupulin Humulus as the 15. Puckering good times!
Ninkasi Tricerahops: From the hopalicious Eugene, Oregon brewery that brought you Total Domination IPA comes this richer, hoppier, more complex bludgeoning of resinous, floral hop delight. Ninkasi Brewmaster Jamie Floyd rolls with “hops, hops, and more hops” and enough malts to balance the bill. At 8.8% ABV and well over 100 IBU, the Tricerahops is a stampeding hop bomb featuring delicacies and intricacies often devoid of many super IPAs. Citrus, grapefruit aromatics couple with delectable choice grains to put forth one Oregon and the nation’s best double IPA.
Avery Hog Heaven: From one of the coolest breweries in the United States, Avery, comes a beer labeled as a barleywine, but we know better. The barleywine title can often scare away those not looking for a overly malty offering. Granted, the big pig weighs in at 9.2% ABV, but the 104 IBU is greater than even that of the brewery’s boozier Maharaja Imperial IPA (10.54% ABV, 102 IBU). Hog Heaven’s smooth caramel and citrus hop flavors mesh to form a world class piece of liquid candy that demands a second visit to the trough. After drinking this brew, we often wonder if pigs really can fly.
Beer Valley Leafer Madness: From the Eastern-most part of Oregon comes this greener than life Imperial IPA. Such a maddeningly hopped beer scoffs at the idea of a hop shortage with a balmy 100+ IBUs and over 9% ABV. When asked about the difficulty of incorporating this bold new beer to the line-up considering a shortage, brewer Pete Ricks admits to feeling lucky about locking in a contract. “Dr. Bill Pengelly of Brewers Supply Group kind of saved our ass this year. It’s been kind of a tough year to start a brewery. Barley prices have doubled. Hop prices are anywhere from triple to tenfold where they were a year ago. Some breweries weren’t able to get hops this year, so we feel very fortunate.” Look a fresh hop version of this brew signified by special green bottle caps.