Another fresh-hop beer. After all, it is the season, and I just can’t say no to all the new versions popping up everywhere I look. That’s right, I’m a fresh-hop mark. Or maybe I’m a fresh-hop john. Basically, whichever one is more offensive. Yes, I choose that one. You heard me. So take that, adverb boy. Because I’m ruffling feathers today. Mixing it up. Pulling the rope-a-dope. And no, I don’t know where this is going. But I like it. This is our sixth beer from New Holland (including the bonus beer, Envious) ; previous encounters include our short but passionate affair with a curvaceous bottle of Beerhive Tripel, El Mole Ocho, Dragon’s Milk, Golden Cap Saison, and Envious.
Hopivore pours a mix of orange and copper—it’s very harvest-y, I guess—with a thin eggshell head that reduces to a ring rather rapidly. Ah, alliteration, how I love thee. In the nose, there is a pretty even mix of malt and hops, with spice and pine on the hop side and biscuit and amber on the malt side. Flavors follow suit—there are toasted bread and biscuit malt flavors mixed with caramel sweetness in the front, coupled with a bright spicy hoppiness. The middle has an even pleasant bitterness that balances the malt character, leading to a rather balanced finish that features a touch of evergreen pine hop flavor before the gentle lingering bitterness that mixes with the dry biscuit malt character. The balance is nice, although the biscuit and caramel malt is too much in the front of the beer—the subtlety of the hop aroma and flavor is muted by the more distinctive malt characteristics. At the same time, the body is medium to light—much of the sweetness is in the taste, not the mouthfeel. This is a pretty decent beer, and certainly very drinkable (and enjoyable as well), but it is trying to do too many things at the same time. In looking to combine the fall harvest ale with the fall wet-hop beer, New Holland has turned two good beers into one that is muddled more than anything else. Either crisp up the finish of the malt character with a lager yeast and forget about the fresh-hop, or drop the harvest component and lighten the malt character in the body to showcase fresh-hop nuance and complexity. Either/or: don’t do both. I do love wet-hop beers, but most non-West Coast versions treat this style as more novelty than craft. Dammit.
From the bottle: “Michigan-grown hops are the story in this seasonal harvest ale. Hopivore is wet-hopped, with hops added to the brew just hours after harvest, creating rare, fresh flavors.”
P.S. That Farmhouse Hatter IPA you guys made was top-notch—it still stands as one of the best examples of a Belgian IPA that I’ve tried to date.