Life Begins at the Hop: 7 Toothsome Beers to Try this Week

The climate’s all topsy-turvy here in the earthly paradise of southeastern Nebraska, slightly west of the Platte and slightly east of center. 75° today, and as if my porter post put the goat horns on an early Spring, we’re due for a hailstorm tonight and overnight snow – followed by temperatures in the mid-40s – over the weekend.

Self-fulfilling prophecy, curse, the same, or different?

I’ve got plenty of material to source for beer-related posts, and I’m eager to share some old favorites and new finds with you. This week’s beer post focuses on bold, strident brews. Not necessarily extreme, though some may swipe the palette a bit brusquely. Most are pale or bitter in some way, but don’t let those descriptors interfere too much with your search for imaginative, surprising beer.

Let’s begin.

Caracole Saxo strong pale ale, Falmignoul, Belgium (enjoyed March, 2014 at Magoun’s in Somerville, MA)

Start at Magoun’s Saloon. Order this weird Belgian snail beer – a knucklesome blonde. Find yourself with your wide lunar stride in Davis Square drinking to your son Cy’s health and future, and celebrating the gift of Uncledom with your brother. Remember there’s a growler of Opa Opa on the still partially snowbound back porch, cooling fast after a delightful Spring warmup. This is the good life in New England.

Wormtown Be Hoppier IPA, Greenfield, MA (Purchased May, 2014 in Somerville, MA)

There was Be Hoppy – received with near-universal acclaim on beeradvocate –  now there is Be Hoppier. Like the “city so good they had to name it twice,” this one gets better with every sip. Just look at that mildly tawny, butterscotch colour…it’s like the off-shade Lego you’d use as a cornerstone for all the futurist palaces of childhood.

Humboldt Brewing Co. 500 B.C. Double India Pale Ale, Pasa Robles, CA (Purchased in December, 2014 in Somerville, MA)

Deep past, desirously palatable double IPA. Hazy amber, ginny and jammy, mostly lives in the underbrush – don’t expect the bright, marine-layer-fed canopy of the coastal pinelands; this one is in the early stages of delicious, murky rot.

Buckledown Meridian Clencher, Lyons, IL (Enjoyed in Chicago, IL in April, 2015)

Memory’d been on strike for the prior two rather heady weeks before sipping on this big malt, big hop, high threadcount imperial/double/Austro-Hungarian main battle tank thing. Superb double IPA, again if memory serves – too bad I can’t recall the perfectly lovely pub where I tried this, only a week after gettin’ married to the love of my days and learning that Kel would be accepting her current position here in Lincoln, NE. It says something about the beer, though, don’t it, that it’d stand out in such bon vivant times?

Heavy Seas Loose Cannon Hop-to-the-Third IPA, Baltimore, MD (Purchased in May, 2015, in Somerville, MA)

No longer questing for that unicorn beer in Chicago, by May of 2015, I could certainly appreciate a fine horse on sheen and ride alone. Scrumptious thrice-hopped IPA out of B’more. Start wearing purple for me now!


Peace Tree NO Coast IPA, Knoxville, IA (Purchased in June, 2015 in Lincoln, NE)

Iowa on the map! NØ Coast IPA. Just a strange mesopotamia with flat-shorn borders in the north and south – and honest-to-goodness loess bluffs opposite Omaha. Quenching, sharp IPA. Hop Sutra is also highly recommended for those curious about Iowa’s contribution to the anxiolytic arts.

White Birch Hop Session Ale, Hooksett, NH (Purchased in April, 2012 in Bridgewater, NJ)

It encompasses six or seven notes – resiny, cedary, etc…which just glow there patiently on different parts of the pallet. Its only fault may be that it does hops too technically tight and messlessly to qualify as rock and roll. And it’s too grounded to be prog. It must be metal, then. Layered, sexless, vilified metal.

I wrote that 4 years ago, and just read this review of the Hop Session ale:

If I were drinking this beer blind I’m not sure I would identify it as a Session IPA. White Birch Hop Session Ale is closer to a standard American Pale Ale due to the fact it’s not especially bitter or hop-tasting. It might actually be a little too well balanced for its own good.”

Chad Polenz, beer critic


2 thoughts on “Life Begins at the Hop: 7 Toothsome Beers to Try this Week

  1. Nice to see the Heavy Seas Loose Cannon. One of my favorites! (Maybe as a Baltimorean, who wears purple on football Sundays, I’m biased) Come to Baltimore and try it at their brewery — or at their very nice restaurant near historic Fells Point.

    Liked by 1 person

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