Back into the drinking notes – and continuing my virtual trip around the United States is beer number 98 off the epic list, Hop Rod Rye from the Bear Republic Brewery in California.
The bottle says:
The ‘Hop’ Rod is parked, in all its multicolour-flame glory, in the middle of an otherwise black label. It’s an impressive vehicle – it’s turbocharged, dual overhead hop injected, and it burns through alcohol…oh wait, that’s a description of the beer inside. The label also contains some sound advice for any aspiring racer: 1) don’t drink and drag (racing is much safer sober after all), and 2) any sediment found is the result of the truckload of hops used. Did I mention that the Hop Rod is surrounded by a flame – so awesome!
A thick and creamy dark tan head caps off a dark brown/amber body. The first smell is spicy and fruity. As soon as you drink it the hops drive straight to the back of the tongue and start doing a bitter grapefruit burnout. The rest of the mouth enjoys some spice and a little caramel sweetness, but all of the flavour is invariably overtaken by the bitterness emanating from that one spot on the tongue. It manages to keep the rest of the mouth somewhat cleansed until you introduce the next mouthful.
There’s more spiciness in the aroma, more toffee sweetness in the taste, and a new effervescence in both. The sweetness adds to the hop flavours to create a citrus-jam flavour, and the spice is easy to distinguish as Rye. It’s a nice combo, but these smells and flavours are a mere audience to the bitter burnout that’s still happening on the same spot of the tongue. As interesting as the other flavours might be, we all know how hard it is to concentrate on anything else when someone is doing a burnout…
The hop flavours were definitely dominant, but mingled nicely with the rye bread spice and caramel. It would have been nice to get more of these other flavours by having a little less bitterness, but that would be akin to removing the engine from a champion dragster – something that I’m sure would outrage both beer and car fans alike.
Has anyone ever made hop jam? And eaten it on rye toast?? It might be time for a Masterchef moment, because if it tastes anything like the flavours in this beer I could be onto a winner.