Nick Carr on May 18, 2015 2 Comments Quick Characteristics Brewery Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. Location Chico, CA Style American IPA ABV 6.2% IBU 60 Hops Cascade, Simcoe, Bravo, Crystal Malts Two-row Pale, Caramel, Flaked Oats Other Ingredients: Farm distilled “Hop Oil” from cascade, CTZ and centennial hops Shelf Life 2 to 3 months Suggested Glass Pint or IPA Glass Serving Temp 46-50°F Availability Year-Round Food Pairings Cheeseburger w/ Roasted Red Peppers, BBQ, Grilled Salmon, Stilton Blue Cheese, Rich Carrot Cake Being from Sierra Nevada we already can make the educated conjecture that this will, at the very least, be a decent, drinkable beer. But two things give Hop Hunter IPA some extra flare, some added notoriety you might say. The first is a situation of happenstance that probably garnered the beer more commercial notice then was intended, at least, by the people over at Langunitas Brewing Co. The other has to do with the ingredients and an exciting new innovation in hop processing. The situation of happenstance had to do with the beers labeling. I’m not gonna go into all the details of the rather one sided dispute between Langunitas and Sierra Nevada. Plenty of other people on the web have, and honestly, I think the whole thing was a little silly. But just in case you happen to be one of the few who don’t know what I’m talking about, here it is plain and simple. Lagunitas issued a “cease and desist” to Sierra Nevada because the Hop Hunter label bares slight (emphasis on slight) resemblance to Lagunitas’s flagship IPA label. Tony Magee’s complaint was that consumers would confuse Lagunitas IPA for Hop Hunter, or vice-versa. Well, a day after the suit was filed the public made it clear that this would not be an issue and he dropped it. The labels are plenty different… unless you run through the store just grabbing the first bottle label that has IPA big and bold. And, I hope you don’t. “And the hunter of hops did pick and press, and imbibe in freshest caress.” Now the hop processing bit, something to get a little more excited about. Hop oils aren’t uncommon, actually they are used extensively in brewing, but these oils come from dried hop cones. After visiting a hop farmer in the Yakima valley who also happened to grow mint and seeing his setup to extract mint oil, Ken Grossman of Sierra Nevada wondered if the contraption could also extract oils from hops fresh off the bines. It could… and did. Through a process of steaming hops and distilling their oils into a vapor, having a fresh hop ale around, not just for the short harvest season (mid-August to mid-September), but year around garnered the possibility of reality. Hop Hunter IPA is the first such beer brewed using fresh extract oil. THE TASTING Below are the tasting notes I took while drinking Hop Hunter IPA. If you’ve tasted this beer, please share your thoughts or personal review with everyone down in the comments below. Pour and Aroma Hop Hunter pours an oily yellow, like light spun honey. Active carbonation builds a substantial two finger roof of pearly white foam. Very little haze plagues the bright depth of this beer. My kingdom for a Nose! The whole fresh hop world is brought into stirring relief in the aroma. Grapefruit and dripping resin oh my! Citrus, small floweral, and some peppery notes with a depth of freshness not unlike picking a few cones, smashing and rubbing, then breathing deep between cupped hands. Malt is not detectable at all. If there, it is totally stumped by the fresh hop aromas. Mouthfeel and Taste It has a satiating fullness, carbonation pushes a drying and slick mouthfeel. The taste leaves a little of the brightness found in the aroma behind, coming as slightly more dank but still very light and fresh. Pine, resin, and peppery notes take over for the floral and citrus. At 60 IBU’s this isn’t an extremely bitter IPA. It finds its talent in showcasing the hop flavor, shinning against a balanced background of light sweet malt. Not too much bitterness on the back end and the swallow is crisp, leading into an earthy hop aftertaste. Finishing The Impression Very little of the hop oil is actually used in this beer. As with all essential oils, it is very potent, and a little stretches a long way. Regular bittering and flavoring hop additions were used; leaving the oil to deal with the “freshness” aspect of the aroma, attributed, to a large extent, only to harvest ales. Hop Hunter does this beautiful. In fact in many ways, I find the aroma more enjoyable then the taste, just for the sheer complexity. Don’t get me wrong the taste is up there too. But the aroma… man, this one is defiantly a celebration of nose. Hop Hunter IPA is another great beer for those who want to explore hops, but aren’t overly excited about bitterness. One to get a person more than acquainted with what the humble hop is capable off. It may just garner a few more converts to the Hop Cult.