Tuesday, December 8, 2009

161. Two Brothers Heavier-Handed Oak Foudre Aged IPA

We’re hitting up Two Brothers again with what should be just about the last of this year’s fresh hop beers; this is our third beer from Two Brothers—we’ve tried Moaten, the collaboration with Urthel, and Cane & Ebel.

Heavier-Handed pours a burnt sienna/orangish copper—as Elli put it, it is “definitely a Crayola color”—with a tan head that leaves behind some lacing. The nose is malty with resin and floral hop aromas. Opens with a caramel malt flavor to start, with some tannic bitterness and resin hop flavors in the middle before ending with some dryness but also more of the caramel sweetness, coupled with lingering bitterness; the finish is not the cleanest. We’re not sure if the tannic bitterness in the middle is hop or oak derived—we’re guessing a bit of each. Heavier-Handed has a medium body with some stickiness and creaminess; the carbonation is medium, and there is some light puckering on the back of the tongue at the end of the beer. Again, we’re not sure is this is from the oak or the hop bitterness. Heavier-Handed is a well rounded and well balanced beer; there is not as much oak flavor or aroma in the beer as we expected, especially for this being the first beer run through their new tank. While the foudre is French oak, and thus less intrusive, the only place we can potentially locate oakiness is in the middle of the flavor with the hop bitterness and the tang on the back of the tongue at the end. There might also be some oak in the creaminess of the mouthfeel, but then again, it is nothing definitive. As well, Heavier-Handed could use a bit more hop flavor—for a “heavier handed” fresh hop, the hop flavor is pretty minimal. Some of this may get lost because of it being a bigger beer (8.1% ABV), but the idea with a fresh hop beer is to foreground hop flavor and aroma, particularly the volatile aromatics and oils that are lost through boiling and fermentation and also though preserving hops for later use. Fresh hop beers should be designed to showcase these qualities, and while Heavier-Handed’s nose was good, the hop flavor was lost in the caramel and sweetness of the body. Nonetheless, we both thought Heavier-Handed was an enjoyable beer all around—while not a good as Port’s High Tide or Rogue’s First Growth, it is still a step above Deschutes’ Hop Trip (sorry Deschutes—you know it hurts me to say bad things about you!).

From the bottle: “Heavier-Handed is one of a series of special limited-run beers in styles that are more extreme or unusual. This artisan beer is in celebration of our new French oak tanks, called ‘Foudres.’ Tons of fresh, wet hops from Washington State power through this stepped up version of our seasonal IPA.”

ol’ crazy octopus head!

The Two Brother’s website is lacking any mention of Heavier-Handed. They do mention Heavy-Handed, the smaller version of their wet hop beer, but no Heavier-Handed. They’re obviously not brewing-challenged, but they could be technologically-challenged. And in this case, that’s a good thing.

ABV: 8.1%
IBU: 84.3
OG 19.2° P


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