Thursday, 7 April 2016

Beer Review: Hopping Hog IPA

It is time to embrace the lengthening days and the greater sunlight, time to try something that is green and spring-like in container. It is time to break out the carefully hoarded gains from down south and start feasting on what lies within. Apart from the chocolate lager, of course, I appear to have already done away with most of that. No, I speak instead of the Hopping Hog IPA that is, as it claims, an IPA and is, as it further claims, full of hops. Some of them are local hops that have been grown in and around the site of the brewery and lovely countryside it is around there too!

Is this enough to whet your appetite? I do hope so. Now, follow me to find out more!

This is a surprising little ale, not least because I was not expecting it to be chestnut in colour as I poured, nor to have a big head that settled and then promptly disappeared as quickly as it had arrived after a few moments sitting pretty. There was plenty of carbonation but this just died in the glass and became calmer and more approachable after a few seconds. This was repeated with a top-up and afterward when I had had the first taste. I was going to have this as a combination with my chilli and tomato sauced ravioli (stuffed with spinach I'll have you know) so it had to have a fair bit of flavour to compete. I needn't have been concerned. The nose had a combination of mustiness and clarity, amarillo and chinook hops keen in the air, and the bottle told me I had fuggles to look forward to. There was full fruit in that bouquet, ably supported by heavy citrus so that it easily competed with the fulsome flavour of my main meal.

On the tongue, this was initially quite delicate - starting with a wave of hops that carried a full-bodied fruit that rapidly switched to a burst of sharp citrus with a subtle malt bed before running into the middle of the mouth with the spice of fuggles shooting through in the bubbles. It roiled over and around, imparting more of the warming fuggles among the rounded earlier hops, and then fizzed toward the back of the throat and leaving a strangle active aftertaste that relied more on the fuggles than the bittering of the other hops. Definitely a thirst quencher and it improved after I had easten a little of my meal. The amarillo and chinook worked well with the tang of the chilli and the fuggles worked with that malt, however delicate, to provide a nice grounding and clearing of the palate.

It was without surprise, then, that I found that the dominant impression was the spice and warmth at the front of the mouth with the bittering hops relegated to the sides of the mouth and combining to produce a satisfied reaction. As more of the ale was had the impressions grew and became firmer, the whole thing seems to grow in power as more is had and I can't complain about that. In all, this was a bottle that I was glad to have acquired, even if it was a toss-up in the end between it and Gardener's Tipple - which I shall simply have to wait to get another time when we're next back down south.

This is an ale that can hold its own a 5.4% ABV, the sort that would gather together a group of like-minded souls with a promise of a food night out and it would provide. Clear opinions, carefully given, with a delicacy in enunciation that would make it the sort of ale that you would leave your children with, maybe even vote for. Soft tones, fiery passion, and a clarity that would leave you refreshed and keen to interact more. If it suggested a film you'd probably end up going to see it, or recommended a book - you'd end up buying several copies to share with friends. Well worth it if you see it!

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