Thursday, June 14, 2012

519. Deschutes Hop Henge Experimental IPA

 More Deschutes. After all, if I am in the Pacific Northwest, shouldn’t I indulge the local scene? Besides being from Deshutes, Hop Henge is part of the Bond Street Series, which is just another way of loving lupulins. As previously inferred, we’ve sippy-sipped Chainbreaker White IPAConflux No. 2 White IPA, The Abyss, Black Butte Porter XXI, Mirror Pond Pale Ale, Black Butte Porter, Hop Trip, Inversion, and Red Chair IPA. Do that.

Hop Henge pours a rich, deep caramel with a thick creamy eggshell head. There is even some lacing. Let’s be honest—it looks British. The nose is more eccentric: it starts with chewy caramel malt and a creamy butterscotch before the hops kick in. Then you get the hop bitterness and aroma: pine and resin with touches of earth and vanilla. The delicate aromas of citrus, must, orange, and pear flirt at the edges, but are a bit lost in the caramel. See? More British. Flavors follow the nose, with a spicy caramel at the start before the hop assault takes over. Then it is a herbal pine and evergreen blast. The bitterness picks up in the middle, and continues on into the finish, with pine resin and creamy butterscotch duking it out towards the end. The bitterness in the finish is just short of sharp, while the lingering bitterness carries a hint of mintiness on the roof and back of the mouth. There is some alcohol warmth in the by finish as well, but it is gentle, not harsh. As well, there is a touch of grassiness and hop astringency in the medium to heavy body. In keeping with the British beer references, I am tempted to call this a British IPA on steriods—the beer is more balanced between the malt and hops than many American IPAs, and lessening the malt body would reciprocally improve the hop punch. I know this is a Northwest IPA, but even by those standards it is very British. The Deschutes characteristics shine through—clean, balanced, malty, and delicious—but a reduced malt profile in conjunction with the same hop profile would yield an IPA that better fit the “experimental” label of the Hop Henge profile. Nonetheless, a good beer: this is a beer with a British malt character and an American hop profile that sacrifices nothing. While the final product may itself be a bit unbalanced, aren’t most cultural collisons equally hectic and chaotic? After all, this is what makes Deschutes so refreshing. Damn the naysayers and full speed ahead!

From the bottle: “Stonehenge is a mystery. Hop Henge is a discovery. Out monument to hops—Hop Henge is brought to life by the uncompromising creativity of our brewers.
With an immense hop flavor and bitter finish, this experimental IPA will stand the test of time.”

From Deschutes: “Hop Henge Experimental IPA is our annual exercise in IBU escalation. An outrageous amount of Centennial and Cascade hops are added to each barrel, with a heavy dry-hop presence as well. It is dense and muscular, with a blend of crystal, pale and carastan malts creating an overall biscuity characteristic. It’s all hop, no apologies.”

ABV: 8.96%
IBU: 95
Malt: Pale, Munich
Hops: Millennium, Northern Brewer, Cascade, Centennial, Zeus, Simcoe, Brewers Gold, Citra
Best By: 6/28/2012  


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