Brewery: Sierra Nevada
In March 2018 I held a beer tasting with the theme “Old World vs New World: USA vs Britain”. The idea was to showcase the differences in brewing styles and flavours. IPA is traditionally a British beer style but it was adopted by the United States and as sales increased the style helped to drive the craft beer renaissance of the 1970s. In America, IPA tend to be even more hopped than their British counterparts. This is mainly due to the New World hops used in the brewing, which usually impart bigger citrus and floral notes to the beer than the traditional British hop varieties. What I wanted to find was an IPA that really showed off these characteristics. Straight away I reached for a Sierra Nevada beer as they are so well-known for their excellent pale ale and IPA. I thought I would choose the Hop Hunter as I had never tried it before and I thought the method of hop distillation sounded rather interesting.
The Hop Hunter was golden amber with a head that didn’t hold for a particularly long time. It was more towards the medium to low-level of carbonation and had a slight oily body as it laced the glass nicely. Its scent was powerful and slammed the nostril with pine, grapefruit and a strong hop oil aroma. The beer is made with hops that are steam distilled in the field to capture and intensify the natural flavours and this definitely comes through as you put your nose into the glass for a sniff. The hops again hit you directly in the first mouthful, with big resin oil and pine notes coming to the forefront. Orange peel and grapefruit are also there to give a complex taste with many different elements. The pine continued in the aftertaste and lingered in the throat as the bitterness continued long after the beer was finished.
So what did I think of it? I thought it was exactly what I expected to be honest. I thought it was an interesting IPA and I had to admire its myriad of tastes it had managed to extract from the hops. The fresh hop taste was strong and really packed a punch. I didn’t think it was very easy to drink as I prefer my IPA a little more subdued but for any fan of heavily hopped IPA, this is a must.