Thursday, August 12, 2010

Stoopid is as Stoopid does.

Beer: Hop Stoopid Ale

Brewery: Lagunitas Brewing (Petaluma, CA)
Type: American IPA
ABV: 8%

A friend of mine just got back from a trip to Nevada and managed to bring me back a new brew, which pretty much made my day (thanks, Lori!). It's amazing how many of my reviews come about because friends of mine make road trips and bring me beer, because it can be damned difficult finding new specimens in Ontario without tremendous effort. I'll suppress that LCBO rant for a moment, and get back to the issue at hand: new beer!

Lagunitas got on my good side right away, because it included a pronunciation key on its label. Few breweries do this, and I wish more did so. Nothing is worse than mispronouncing a brewery because you've never heard the name said aloud by someone who knows. I would have pronounced it La-goon-EYE-tuss. It's actually "Lah-goo-KNEE-tuss." Go figure.

Only in the USofA will you encounter breweries that have both regular IPAs and deluxe IPAs. (In Ontario, you're lucky to have either...) Lagunitas is one such brewery. Hop Stoopid is, naturally, their ridiculous IPA. Like I've said before, Americans love them some IPAs, and the hoppier the better - at least as far as beer geeks are concerned. Any West Coast brewer worth their salt will have at least one IPA that's hopped up all to holy hell. "Hop Stoopid" one is Lagunitas' entry, and the name is a bit silly, but I appreciate a good deliberate misspell.

Like many an American craft brewery, Lagunitas has some amusing names for its brews. My personal favorite: Wilco Tango Foxtrot brown ale. Spell it out - it's cute.

Poured into an ale glass for optimum deliciousity.

Light amber in colour, with a rich, frothy head that won't quit. Great retention, lots of lacing sheets. A first-rate looking brew.

The nose is, to no-one's surprise, tremendously hoppy. Hops to the max. It's a West Coast brew, so naturally, I'm getting a West Coast hop - Cascade - which produces some lovely lemon and citrus notes. Fighting for space is a bread and biscuit character, with a touch of flowers and spice to boot.

Wow, does this one hit you hard! Americans sure love their hops, and this brew is no exception. At 102 IBU (bitterness units), this brew packs a wallop, but it does it well. Starts off with a powerful burst of citrussy hop goodness, with the malt profile coming in a bit later. Breads and caramel, primarily. The hops turn on the jets once again for the finish, and despite the citrus entry, leave with a bitter, resiny finish, more in tune with the British/East Coast style. A great demonstration of the hop profile IPAs are made for.

Slightly creamy, with lighter carbonation. Leaves a strong, puckery taste in the mouth for quite some time after sipping.

Just a stand-up IPA, one of the better American IPA's I've come across. It's not hoppy just for the sake of being hoppy (despite the name); rather, it demonstrates the diversity of hop flavors a brewer can encourage in their brews. Citrussy, yet earthy.

A great blend of hop profiles makes for a stand-up IPA, and Lagunitas has hit it right on the mark. With such a potent hop character, it's probably not a brew I could have more than two of in an evening (the high ABV makes this difficult as well), but it's still a tremendous beer and a great example of the style. (Grade: A)

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