Two Brothers Hop Juice DIPABy
After a week of travel and last night’s hoppy Bigfoot, I felt I needed something extra strong for this IPA Monday session — so went to my basement and came up carrying a bottle of Hop Juice.
Hop Juice is a self-styled Double India Pale Ale bottled by Two Brothers Brewing Co. in Warrenville, IL. It initially drew my attention with the label image of a hop getting its “juice” squeezed out by a pair of pliers; but the brewery location — Warrenville, IL — was why I actually bought the bottle. During my years living in Chicago, I worked near the tiny suburb of Warrenville and I had no idea there was a brewery in that town. Heck, I didn’t even think they had a stoplight!
The label description talks a big game; in fact, its braggadocio seems inspired by — though far less loquacious than — the Stone Brewing Company label for Arrogant Bastard:
Hop Juice is one of a series of special limited-run beers in styles that are more extreme or unusual. This one is a real hop blast, dripping with the resiny soul of fresh Northwest hops. Don’t come crying to us if it’s too much for you; this one’s for hopheads only! And get it now, ’cause when it’s gone, it’s gone. Boo hoo.
Let me start by saying I really enjoyed this bottle of Hop Juice. I preface that way because I’m about to be somewhat unfair.
If there’s a “hop blast” with this beer, it lasts no longer than the first fleeting sip. It boasts a 100.1 IBU rating that seems more a product of theoretical math than actual analysis (when adding hops to beer, 2 + 2 can equal far less than 4). But even if we take that rating at face value, the sweet caramel malt is so strong that it effectively negates the strength or pervasiveness of hop flavor. “Hopheads only”? Not at all — in fact, junior apprentice hop heads are strongly encouraged to apply!
BUT THAT’S OKAY! This is a good beer!
I really enjoy the flavor; in particular, I love the way its piney hops mingle with and lend a spicy accent to the sweet, vanilla malt. In fact, caramel malt is the real shining star here! I’ve experienced plenty of crystal/caramel malt during my one-a-day challenge, but none of those beers had a vanilla aroma or taste that entranced me quite like Hop Juice.
Hop Juice filled the bulb of a tulip glass with a deep amber beer topped by a band of off-white, not-quite-tan foam. The sweet vanilla and brown sugar aroma that wafted from the glass was decadent and delicious — even my hop-hating wife agreed to its allure. I was quite surprised that the aroma contained only the slightest hint of spicy hops.
(Now that I mention my wife, I realize why I may like this aroma so much: it reminds me of a scented moisturizer she used when we first began dating, called “Warm Vanilla Sugar“.)
After such a sweet aroma, the hops do take you by suprise with the first sip. They are oily, piney, and cut through with citrus — but the sweet crystal malt subdues them quickly and dominates the remainder of the experience. The hops become a supporting player, adding depth and spice to the strong, dessert-like quality of the malt. Combined with the luscious and silky mouthfeel, Hop Juice’s spicy vanilla and brown sugar flavors create a thoroughly satisfying experience. In fact, this Double India Pale Ale is so sweet that its 9.9% ABV sneaks up on you.
Compared to the label description, the Two Brothers website does a more accurate job of describing Hop Juice:
Hop Juice is a powerful Imperial IPA. It is brewed to 9.9% ABV, 100.1 IBU’s, and dry hopped with a pound of hops per barrel. Hop Juice has a very strong aroma of pine and citrus. This hefty beer is balanced at the start with some nice caramel and brown sugar notes. Then it has a massive hop flavor and bitterness with some complex fruity characters.
Hop Juice is available in 22 oz bottles, but Two Brothers claims the hop shortage is allowing only one batch for 2009 — so this beer may be hard to find (don’t even try unless you are in the Midwest or Northeast United States).
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