Sunday, 27 March 2016

Beer Review: Hop Bomb

This was my Easter ale, picked up and presented on the day with much fanfare. It was one that I had chosen myself and even given to other people as a gift. It is, of course, Hop Bomb by T. A. Sadler's who have gifted the world the rather wonderful Mud City Stout. I think I have even had a version of this before in 255ml. Now it's widescreen, with special features, at 500ml and 2.5 of your English Units.

However, this is not the review that you may be expecting from that introduction and it certainly isn't the review that I was intending to write. Would you like to know more?

The bottle promises citra and amarillo and so the initial aroma does not disappoint. Slightly heavier on the amarillo than the citra, the overall feeling is of slightly yeasty flowers in the middle of a meadow in the high summer. For something heralding the spring, for me, perhaps I was trying this ale in the wrong season. I don't know. It's been wet and cloudy and rainy here so anything could happen. Pouring this straw-coloured ale resulted in plenty of fizz and a big fizzy head - which doesn't show up as well in my pictures because it was already dark in the kitchen and I'm the kind of Luddite that doesn't turn on lights at this time in the evening after the hour has gone forwards! Nevertheless, bright and inviting colour with a big white head and plenty of carbonation that has clearly been added. They're going for a party style here - the kind of ale that wishes it were a champagne. And there is a place for that kind of optimism.

At 5% ABV this is a pretty strong ale but a fairly normal one too. Although the NHS and the country still rate the 3.5% ABV half as a single unit I am finding that a vast majority of bottled ales are significantly stronger. Indeed, so too are many of the ales that one would find on tap in the bars and pubs that I frequent. Well, that may be putting it rather strongly, that I have visited in the last year or so. The aroma remains very yeasty after pouring, putting me in mind of the pubs that I went to when I was younger for the purposes of having a bar meal before there were gastro-pubs and, apparently, before people went to pubs to eat. My family went to pubs to eat - this smells like those pubs did. But without the tobacco. Mind you, that was my family, so your mileage may vary.

The taste here is heavy on the citra at the beginning but the gathering tidal wave of yeast that follows with the thin malt completely obliterates this and chases it down and past the middle of the taste. As the brew laps at the edges and flows to the back of the throat there is no let up, that yeast tops most of what is going on, carried by a very thin malt and much less bubble than you would expect having seen the head at the beginning. It's not awful, but it is rather unexpected from a brew that seems to prize the hops that were used, and nothing at all like the last Hop Bomb that I had (link here). That experience was very positive and a hop journey, this is a batch that has been too heavily yeasted and that is to the detriment.

Enjoy this best when already trolleyed so that the taste isn't what you are looking for so much as the strength. This lacks the bite and the hops of my last experience and it lacks the interest to keep me going and to keep me glued to the ale. I hope that if you pick it up you get a better batch, this is just not firing on all cylinders and is a real shame.

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