Friday, March 4, 2011

Review - Hop Head Double India Pale Ale

I've been working on a couple of posts over the last few days, one on a new and special beer I'm brewing, and another on a classic Victoria brewpub, so I was going to hold off until they were finished. But when a bottle of this year's Hophead Double IPA came into my possession just as my week of sobriety was coming to a close, I knew it must be destiny.

When I first tried Double Hop Head, as my inner hop monster was fully awakening, I remember being very impressed. But how would I react to it now? Since that first taste I have gone through countless IPA's, gotten into Imperial stouts, saisons, lambics, and countless other styles. How would my changing pallette react? How would Hop Head Double IPA have changed? As one angry Victoria brewer wrote, when I criticised the consisitency of his beer, "You will have found that throughout your life, you have changed, your tastes have changed. We also have changed and will continue to change personally and in the way we brew.... Beer does not have to be the same, what the f*** use is that, where is the creativity in brewing? Why should we have to be consistent? Are all your brews consistent? If they are, could you let the rest of us know how you did it, after nearly twenty years of brewing, I can't figure the secret out." With these poignant words foremost in my mind, I cracked this year's Double Hop Head.

This beer is pretty unconventional from the get-go. It is a cloudy orangey-red, and has none of the typical citrus or piney notes of an IPA to its aroma. Instead it has a bouquet of tropical fruit, that is intriguingly very much like pineapples. On first taste it hits hard and fast. The flavour of hops is intense and hard to describe, but sits somewhere between strong grapefruit peel and syrupy pine sap. It has quite a strong level of bitterness that is present throughout the flavour and lasts into a long finish. Throughout, the presence of alcohol is just beneath the surface, not surprising, I suppose, for a beer that sits at 8.3% abv. Although it didn't reach the heights of excellence that I remember, I did enjoy this beer, and you probably will too if you're a fan of intense, hard-hitting hops and strong alcohol, otherwise it may be a bit too much.
Rating: Good


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