Hop Ottin’ IPABy
Let me wish you all a Happy Memorial Day, and pass a quick word of thanks to those who served our country so that we all can freely — among many other things — enjoy good beer.
Today is also IPA Monday, so I’ve decided to use this day of gratitude to enjoy Anderson Valley Brewing Company’s excellent Hop Ottin’ IPA. The last two generations of my family have served during wartime, and I’m sure they’d agree that beer makes a fine tribute! Especially a beer named for hard work.
The Hop Ottin’ IPA label explains:
Hop lovers, your dreams have come true! Hop Ottin’ is Boontling for “hard working hops,” and they’re swurely hard at work in this brew. Hop Ottin’ starts with a robust floral aroma, which winds into a deep and complex body. In an intriguing balance, sun-drenched malts coat rich hop undertones. At length, the hops prevail, with a satisfyingly crisp finish. Hop Ottin bites like a can-kicky bluetail (Hop Ottin’ bites like an agry rattlesnake looking for a fight).
(Fans of Anderson Valley Brewing Company are guaranteed to have at least a passing understanding of “Boontling” — but for those not in the know described this made up dialect in my review of Barney Flats Oatmeal Stout. But think of it as a dialect created by Anderson Valley, CA, residents to confuse visitors in the late 1800′s.)
The IPA pours a coppery-orange color with a delicate haze. Its head is voluminous and cream-colored, looking more at home atop a root beer float than any IPA. The foam from my bottle refused to leave, eventually forming pillars that collapsed upon themselves and floated atop the beer, thickly lacing the glass all the way down to the last sip.
I was really pleased with the aroma, full of citrusy and flowery hops awash with brown sugar, vanilla and caramel — in fact, it reminded me of a pineapple upside down cake. Even so, there are enough hops in the aroma to hint this beer is no sweet pastry.
Sugary vanilla wins the footrace to make the first taste impression, but the hops are just a nose behind and quickly overtake and outshine the sweet caramel malt with full, husky and citrusy hops. It’s a touch sticky on the lips, and the mouthfeel at 45 degrees is fairly thin. Each sip seems to add a new flavor element — a touch of spice, some oiliness, the warmth created by its 7% ABV — and the finish is rich and warming, with crisp bitterness resting atop sweet malt.
Hop Ottin’ has a 90 IBU rating, so those hops are working extra hard — but not nearly as hard as many other beers that fall short. See, too many IPAs chase after a huge IBU rating but they compensate by upping the sweetness of the malt — for a good example, see my review of the enjoyable but overly sweet Hop Juice Double IPA. Anderson Valley Brewing Company’s IPA does what few can do well — delivering a big, and very tasty, hop flavor while striking the right balance with malt.
The side of the label delivers the point best: “Brewed from only the finest hops, malted barley, hops, yeast, hops and pristine Boonville mineral water. And hops.”
OH! One final note before I finish.
I’ve discovered that many people don’t realize there’s a game hidden beneath each Anderson Valley Brewing Company bottle cap. I first described how I stumbled upon the bottle cap secret message in my review of Barney Flats Oatmeal Stout, but today I took pictures:
What’s it say? “Brightlighter teleef’ned de-arker” — which is a line from a Boontling short story, which you can read (with translation) on the Anderson Valley Brewing Company website.
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