Thursday, 17 April 2014

Beer Review: Hopping Hare

So, after the success of Fursty Ferret over the Christmas period and because my local supermarket was doing an offer I decided to dive back into the joys of Badger brewery. Tonight I am attempting the slightly green Hopping Hare.

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The big boast here is that it is thrice hopped and that it is very hoppy as an ale. I have friends who are very much into hopped ales and have shown me some rather clever things that can be done with hops and ale generally so I was rather looking forward to the admittedly mainstream offering. At 4.4% ABV it is at the lower and safer end of the scale, the sort of ale that goes rather nicely with good food and a take out (the two may not be entirely mutually exclusive). This was further accompanied by the rediscovery of 1066: the Game, which is well worth seeking out. I think I've babbled about it on here already, in my write up of The Wake, which is truly brilliant.

Anyway, yes. With it being thrice hopped, as it says on the label at least twice, it is unsurprising that the aroma has elements of citrus that is sharp and fruity but there's also something else on that edge, something spicy and reminiscent of chilli or yeast or even just a particular kind of hops, fuggles? Except that I don't see any evidence of them being used in this concoction. On pouring the colour is very like a good IPA or even a decent lager (of all things). There's plenty of head, not creamy or any more than froth, and the fizz is strong and undimmed by opening. It's almost golden rather than straw but, like the foil on the label, there's a strong hint of green, which is a bit odd truth be told.

First sip begins with bitter hops, which is another unusual touch of the ale, rather than ending on a bittering note. This is then carried by a spicy taste of another hop, not fuggles alas, which then rushes toward a sharp finish with plenty of citrus tones. Not as bitter as the opening but clearly the third hop used. This is not unpleasant but it is rather same-y. Let me explain, the hops in this are all complementary, to be sure, but they manage this by the fact that they are all very similar tasting. It's not the best way to do this kind of thing, in my mind, like queuing a biryani with a bhuna and then a rogan josh, they're all very similar and I would love to any of them at pretty much any given moment. But not all mixed together.

In short, this is a clever little ale for the mainstream market. It does not stack well against offerings such as Dark Raven or Wild Swan from Thornbridge. It is better than most that you'll find in bottled ale aisles and works well against things like Fursty Ferret but it is not a stand-out beer. Enjoy with a pizza of an evening but make sure you have others on standby to enjoy. I suspect it would work well as a sessioning ale if you're not in it for the ale to hold its own.

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