Nothing To Lose Your Head Over

Thursday, October 07, 2010

My name is Smitty, and I am a hop-head.

Took a while to get there. Maybe some day I'll document my journey from Bud and Icehouse to Labatt and Molson to the world of local breweries. Even after discovery of the unlimited tastes of "craft" beer, it took a while to embrace hops; my first foray into IPAs left me whining that the beer I tried tasted like a tin can. Funny: it's a beer I regularly enjoy now.

Once I figured hops out, though, it was all over from there. No wonder beer's forefathers eventually abandoned other bittering agents in favor of the almighty hop.

And so here I am today, blogging before you as a hop-head. And before me is a bottle of Terrapin Brewery's Hopsecutioner IPA.

Ooh, tantalizing! Hopsecutioner. Will hop-heads, erm, lose their heads with Hopsecutioner? Will its sharply-honed hops leave me senseless?

Hopsecutioner turned my pint glass a beautiful copper, slightly hazy, with a pure white, cloud-fluffy head. True to its name, this beer loses its foamy head quite quickly. Thick rivulets of lacing clung tenaciously to the pint glass as the essence of the beer drained quickly away.

Bready, biscuity malts merge with sweet apricots on the nose like marmalade on biscuits. Right behind this tea-time crumpet comes some complex - but still somehow subtle - aromas: damp cedar wood, pineappe-citrus. Juicy aroma if aromas could be juicy. Beautiful aromas, to be sure, but out of balance with what I 'd expect from an IPA. Sweet marmalade biscuits shouldn't be the first thing I smell in beers known for the hopiness.

The taste delivers what the aroma promises: bread dough and sugary-sweet malts compliment soft citrus fruits like pineapples and red grapefruit. Delicious, earthy hops mesh exquisitely chewy, juicy caramel. Hopsecutioner is well-crafted...but is off from an IPA. It is a hoppy beer, no doubt, but the hops don't dominate. Nor do they contribute as a major player. They're a partner in a beer where I expect them to be everything.

For over 7% ABV, I don't get that alcohol burn. It has a lovely, chewy, medium body, and finishes slightly dry and just a tad resinous from the hops. Maybe Hopsecutioner would be a great beer for someone who wants to try an IPA but is skeptical of everything they've heard about hops. The delicacy of the hops in this beer would shine if they weren't out-competed by the big malts also characteristic of an IPA. I do like this beer and will have no issue killing-off the rest of the 6-er; its subtlety makes it very sessionable and quaffing one after another is definitely on my agemda. But I can't say I'm going to lose my head over this beer.


Anonymous,  9:06 PM  

I think your review hits it right on the head...It is an easy to drink beer, hoppier and a little thick, goes down well....But it doesn't quite hit it as an IPA. Great review!

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