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Battle of Hops: Single Hop 4 pack

    Brewery: Naparbier
    Country: Spain
    Size: 4 x 33cl
    ABV: 6%
    Price: 120kr
    Systembolaget: 1345

    When this popped up in my local Systembolaget, I was quite surprised as it isn’t often we get packs of beer like this. The premise sounded interesting: four different IPA that are all similar in malt and alcohol strength but each is brewed with a different single hop. I did have a slight reservation about buying it though at first as I was worried that they would all taste quite similar, even with the varied hops. I have had a few beers from Naparbier in pervious tastings, and I know they do make nicely rounded IPAs, so I went for it. I still don’t know much about the brewery though as their website is useless. There is hardly any information online about them except for they started in 2009. If you managed to find any more than that feel free to contact me and let me know! Aside from that, I was very happy with the purchase, as I think it is one of the most educational set of beers I’ve had in a tasting. The contrasts between the Ahtanum, Centennial, Chinook and Simcoe hops was striking!

    The Ahtanum was rather clear golden in colour and light in aroma, with a small pine presence. The lightness continued into the taste, with a slight bitterness that faded rather quickly. It was more akin in a way to a hoppy modern-day pilsner. This was by far the tamest of the bunch, yet it was still very nice. The Centennial was slightly cloudy and a lot more robust in aroma. The distinction between this and the Ahtanum was apparent straight away. This beer had big notes of honey, lemon peel, pine and a slight funky musk to it. The taste was complex and packed full of flavours such as clementine peel, wood and sour pineapple. The bitterness lingered but was rounded and quite warming in the mouth. It felt slightly heavier in body too.

    The Chinook contrasted sharply with the others as this was a light amber in colour and cloudy. The aroma was also the most pleasant of the four variations, with massive passionfruit and tropical fruit tones bursting from the glass. The fruit continued into the tasting, with some lovely mouth-watering notes of grapefruit peel and pine found. This had the longest aftertaste in the collection too, with a slight spicy note evident on the tongue. The final bottle in the pack was the Simcoe. Similar in cloud and colour to the centennial bottle, it was the most dank in the assortment. The smell was a blend of moss, wet wood, damp forest and a minor note of  matured cheese. It basically had the aroma of an old dusty cellar. That dankness continued into the tasting, with the musty wood and grass pulling through well, however it was lighter in bitterness than the Centennial or Simcoe.

    I’m so glad I put this into the tasting. It was great to see the reactions of the guests as they tasted each beer and discussed how each one had its own individual character. My personal favourite was between the Ahtanum and Chinook. The guests were rather split on which one was the best, with the Chinook just edging ahead in the end. I recommend everyone with a passing interest in beer should try this pack at some stage as it was really educational to see just how the hop variety can change the taste profile of a beer. Interesting!