Brewed with farm distilled hop oil. 6.2% ABV
Sierra Nevada Brewing Co., Chico, CA and Mills River, NC
By Bill Lau
Posted February 17, 2015
Another beer recently sampled at Jungle Jim’s International Market. I had actually stopped at the tasting station the day after the Bells Hopslam release party (which I sadly missed), hoping to still be able to sample said brew. (It’s been a favorite imperial IPA in the past, but at nearly $20 for a 6-pack, I like to make sure it hits the spot for me, if you get my drift.) Well, they did have the ‘slam, along with several other IPAs/double IPAs, including Hop Hunter. So I sampled the selection.
I have to admit I was not quite prepared for the immense fresh hop flavor of the Sierra Nevada offering. It was a lot like revisiting my first exposure to IPAs back in the late ‘80’s; massive flavors of citrus and floral, almost perfumey notes first experienced with Anchor Liberty Ale and Sierra Nevada Pale Ale. My palate has moved on over the years to where those beers no longer seem as hoppy (thanks Stone, Dogfish Head, Avery, Green Flash, etc, etc!). But it sure is nice to know that I can still be bowled over by a beer’s hoppiness.
Since Hop Hunter doesn’t seem to be available in bottles in this area (yet, I hope), and since I’ve been craving more since that sample, I had to grab a howler while JJ’s still had it on tap. The 32 ounce container is a great size for us – we can each enjoy a pint, or one can easily finish it off while it’s still fresh & fizzy.
So let’s get on with the tasting notes!
Appearance (4.5/5): Brightest golden-yellow hue; absolutely crystal clear. White head of foam recedes from a quarter inch or so to a collar and large, thin central patch after a few minutes. Gorgeous! Leaves behind partial foam rings.
Aroma (10/10): Glorious fresh hop aroma – grapefruity Cascade with strong pine note and some floral touches. Heady. Smells like brewing day. A hophead’s delight!
Palate (5/5): Medium body with a rich mouthfeel – smooth, slightly oily texture coats the palate with hoppy goodness. Carbonation has a bite in the background but doesn’t overwhelm.
Taste (10/10): Massive fresh hop flavors up front, with grapefuit, pine, and both dank and floral notes. Caramel and toasted malt follows, lending a tangy bittersweet edge. Solid bitterness joins in and builds into a resinous and almost puckering finish. The hoppy flavors linger and linger with citrus, pine and a caramelized resin persistently clinging to the tongue. The beer just keeps on delivering flavor long after you’ve drained the glass!
Overall (19.7/20): Fan-frickin-tastic hoppy nectar! Bring on the hot wings with bleu cheese dressing or a burger with fried jalapeños, pepper jack cheese, and chiptole mayo!