Tag Archives: Hops

Empire IPA

Empire Brewing Co.
Syracuse, NY

No bottle photo here – I picked up a growler at my friendly neighborhood bottle shop, the new and awesome City Swiggers. Having a local  beer shop like this is something I’d only dreamed of while I schlepped to the Lower East Side or even the outer boroughs to find my specialty bottles. So, thanks to City Swiggers for, y’know, existing.

A crackling, orange-tinted head fluffs up, clinging to the sides of the glass. Almost perfect clarity shows sparse, slow carbonation. The color of burnt sand in the afternoon sun, this beer has an orange blush to it with a touch of dun.

The nose has sticky and resinous grapefruit and passion fruit notes, and a touch of mango. The mouthfeel is full, with that hop stickiness overwhelming the breath of creamy malt. Mostly under-ripe grapefruit dries out the middle of the tongue, while the softer tropical fruits spread out and back across the palate.

It’s certainly a hop-forward IPA for lupulin fanatics, but the finish is slightly more cloying – sticky, really – than expected. If the finish were a bit more sere, I’d rave about this one, but it just misses on the finish.

And in case you were wondering: yes, I did finish the whole growler after the Giants won the NFC Championship game.


Avery DuganA

Avery Brewing Co.
Boulder, CO
DuganA IPA

Avery is sort of the definitive hophead Colorado brewery – and DuganA is purportedly their masterpiece. The smell of alcohol wafts out of the bottle with the pop of the cap; the beer pours out with a gradually increasing, dense yellowed white head that rises to a solid inch and stays there. The beer itself is perfectly clear – honey amber with a trace of copper. Small bubbles travel slowly up the glass in perfect strands, stirring up some floating sediment from the bottle.

The nose has a lot of grapefruit, but it’s soft and powdery with a woodsy finish. The mouthfeel is, to say the least, full. The tightly packed head washes over first, barely prepping the tastebuds just in time for what’s to follow. There’s a whisper of malt on the sides of the tongue, and a slightly metallic tang when the hops hit. They are certainly strong, riding a wave of citrus and tobacco, but they are not palate-crushing. Alcohol kicks in, but it’s warmth is gentle and gradual especially considering the 8.5% ABV.

This beer is big, but doesn’t wipe out your sense of taste. This is what balance does in a well-brewed beer.

Lake Placid IPA

Lake Placid Brewing Co.
Utica, NY
India Pale Ale

The beer pours with decent clarity, through which steady streams of fine effervescence can be seen heading up to the surface to help bolster the already frothy beige head. The color is deep amber with toffee brown highlights.

Lake Placid IPAPungent, resinous piney aromas mingle with some very tart citrus notes. Hopheads will get fired up delving into the miasma of hops emanating from the glass.

The mouthfeel is excellent and expectedly hop-forward. The hops come together without zapping the tongue, and veer more towards the woodier pine flavors than any citrus fruit. There is a very subtle malt presence that helps to even out the swallow along the sides of the tongue but, ultimately, the finish is green and tart and gives a hint of the nearly 7% ABV that lurks behind what is otherwise a well-balanced, though certainly hoppy, brew.

He’Brew Hop Manna

Schmaltz Brewing Co.
Saratoga Springs, NY
He’Brew Hop Manna IPA

Love the folks at Schmaltz – they make great beer, aren’t afraid of taking chances, and manage to do it all without taking themselves too seriously. This brew is made with Warrior, Northern Brewer, Cascade, Amarillo, Crystal, Fuggle, and Golding AND is dry-hopped with the Cascade, Crystal, and Amarillos.

Not much head appears on the pour, but what does show up is cloud white and looks just as soft. The beer is straw gold with a honey quality to it that belies its crystal clarity. That clarity shows slow, sparse effervescence chugging up to the surface, keeping a clingy halo at the mouth of the glass.

The nose is not as aggressive as the seven hops may initially indicate, but Fuggle and Golding are much subtler than Cascade or Amarillo. What you get is a really nice medley of soft aromas. There is citrus, naturally, but that grapefruit spray emerges slowly behind a powdery floral bouquet of paperwhite, lavender, as well as some pine sap that masks just a bit of bready malt. Great stuff.

The mouthfeel excellent, accelerating from a surprisingly bubbly front and spreading out like a meadow. The hops hit immediately – bitter citrus first, then the wafting, rosy florals, and finally just a slightly metallic tobacco touch at the end. The malt is not apparent immediately, but the lack of any sere, saliva-sapping aridity shows that there is more balance than you might think.

Sixty-five IBUs is a lot, but not a ton, and this beer is an easy-going 6.8% that’s going to please any hophead. It’s hop-forward, to be sure, but Schmaltz has done a wonder here by creating a ‘big’ beer that is not going to be undrinkable for those who don’t have a sense of humulus. Nice stuff.

Keegan Ale Hurricane Kitty

Keegan Ales
Kingston, NY
Hurricane Kitty IPA

An even pour elicits enough turbulence to puff up a rocky head that sparkles with tangerine highlights. The brew itself is on the copper side of mahogany, with more red rust than brown or dun. The clarity is very good and the effervescence is fine, slow, and steady.

The nose is a resinous wallop of pine and citrus. Grapefruit is the predominant aroma, with evergreen sap sweetness following close behind. The mouthfeel is upfront – delicate carbonation imparting a peppery snap to the tip of the tongue. The flavor spreads quickly, but any subtlety is immediately overwhelmed by spicy lemon tartness. Eventually, some of that gives way to under-ripe orange and grapefruit.

Almost none of the syrupy quality from the aroma arrives in the swallow, but once your mouth has recovered from the unapologetic hop bill, this beer refreshes the palate with each sere sip and levels out a bit with some whisper-quiet but slightly chewy malt in the background. In the end, this is a bit metallic to be a balanced IPA, but Keegan named this beer aptly and makes no bones about its hop-forward attitude.

Sam Adams Latitude 48

Boston Beer Co.
Boston, MA
Latitude 48 IPA

The name of this beer comes from the northern hemispheres 48th parallel, which is called, in the brewniverse, The Hop Belt. Hops seem to thrive here, and Sam Adams has taken samples from Germany, England, and the US.

The pour is energetic, breathing life into nearly an inch of yellowed head. The color is a reddish dun, with amber gold highlights peeking through the impeccable clarity.

Sam Adams Latitude 48

The nose features a surprising softness of malt, though hops soon take over as tobacco and mint arrive in the forefront. Some peppery spice also emerges, perhaps from those Nobles.

The mouthfeel is quite good, with the fine effervescence spreading widely across the tongue. Malt makes a brief appearance, only to duck quickly, like a whack-a-mole, as the hop hammer prepares to drop. It is not subtle, and starts out sharp and metallic. Bark and grass emerge, along with tobacco. Slowly, a mint leaf presence hits the back of the swallow accompanied by some sweet cream, hinting that maybe the malt mole might return. However, all that’s left is mild alcohol warmth joined by parsley green hops.

It’s nothing earth-shattering, but the brief cameos by an English hop ball-peen and a German hop mallet save this from being just another Pac NW hop sledgehammer.

Schneider-Brooklyner Hopfenweisse

Kelheim, GER/Brooklyn, NY

This is the collaboration between Hans-Peter Dresler of Schneider Brewery, and Garrett Oliver of Brooklyn Brewery. They have made a weissebock but have added American hops, namely Amarillo, Cascade, Palisades, and Willamette. This brew was one of Draft’s Best Beers of the Year.

Hopfenwiesse pours a burnished yet hazy gold, darker than straw and maybe with a hint of orange like a setting sun. The clarity is actually pretty good, but without the bottom of the glass and the yeast flocculation.

A high white head sits atop the beer, collapsing to a fine layer, but leaving behind some dense lacing.

The nose has the expected banana aroma, but it is fainter than you might think. There are richer, earthier smells in there, too. There is vanilla, and even a bit of stone fruit like over-ripe peaches. This is probably the citrus and pine hops mingling with the bubblegum and coriander of the wheat beer.

The mouthfeel is excellent, full but not overly creamy; clean, but not thin. Initially, you get some hops, rising very quickly as wintergreen, but giving way even faster to a coriander vapor, and a slightly sweet, very rich twang that hints at those stone fruits. The finish is less hoppy than you might expect, though it nicely tempers the fruity chewiness that hits the sides of your tongue.

Overall, you know this beer packs a punch – you can taste it in the trippel-like quality of the swallow. This is one to sample if you can get your hands on it – it can appeal to the beer snob, the wheat beer fan, and fans of Belgian beers (even though it’s a “Bavarian” brew). It won’t satisfy hopheads looking for a dose of Brooklyn’s medicine, but they should appreciate it’s bold mastery of the secret of steel.