Tuesday, November 8, 2011

492. BridgePort Hop Harvest Ale 2011

More from the brewery that almost started it all here. My, how time flies. While technically we’ve had this beer before in an earlier instantiation, since it is a seasonal offering I’m declaring it a distinct vintage. Take that, social proprieties! Hop Harvest is from BridgePort’s Big Brews series (well, at least according to their label), and is our fourth beer from BridgePort, all of which have been, not surprisingly, hop-focused: Hop Czar, Hop Harvest 2009 and their IPA are the previous beers we’ve, um, sampled.

Hop Harvest pours a cloudy orange gold with a thin white head that reduces quickly to a ring with thin wispy tendrils extending over the brew. The nose features a combination of the slight spiciness and burnt vegetal astringency found in most wet hops beers; most others, however, contain additional hop aromas beyond this. Sadly, Hop Harvest does not. Maybe there is a touch of mineral brightness that emerges, or a hint of the caramel malt, but not much else. The flavor profile follows suit—there is malt sweetness in the front coupled with spicy mineral hop flavor that builds to the assertive hop bitterness of the middle; the caramel sweetness leads into the dry, tacky bitterness of the finish that mostly covers the malt sweetness, but it is a bit sticky—its imperial pedigree comes through here, even at only 6.5%. Carbonation is prickly and bright, and helps lighten the mouthfeel, but there is still a bit too much residual sweetness here—it borders on being a malt-forward Imperial IPA, and that can’t be a good thing. The spicy mineral bitterness is the highlight of the beer; the lack of distinct hop aroma and the imperial malt character are pretty big strikes against it. I did finish my glass, but kinda disappointing coming from BridgePort—the 2009 version did a much better job of showcasing the subtlety of fresh hops.

From the bottle: “This triple hopped, Imperial style ale gets its most important ingredient from Willamette Valley aroma hops. Caramel malt joins forces with a touch of wheat to produce a deep amber color with a cloudy veil. The result is an ale that will turn even the most pretentious hop fans jolly.”

ABV: 6.5%

Um, no offense, but you didn’t make Elli jolly...


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