Finally, I can officially say that I’ve tried 100 beers off my epic list! I wanted my 100th beer to be something special, and in my brain special = expensive. So I went on a quest looking for the priciest beer available to me in Brisbane at the time. The winner, at $56 for a bottle, was Leafer Madness by Beer Valley Brewing in Oregon, US. Let the celebrations begin!
The bottle says:
The label has hops on it…lots of hops. There’s a heaping pile of fresh green hops in the centre, surrounded by a golden frame and a dark green background with another heap of fresh green hops…if there are anywhere near as many hops in the bottle as there are on the label, then I’m in for some fun. I thought for sure that there’d be a fun story on the label outlining the origin of this beers name, since it seems to be such an obvious play on the 1930’s propaganda film ‘Reefer Madness’, however there are no stories or fun quotes at all. I turned to their website looking for an answer; again nothing references the origin of the name, just that this beer was created during the great hop shortage of 2008. Oh well…it’s a cool name regardless.
The beer has a golden body and a lasting tight white head. The first smell is sweet perfume with some pine needles in the background. The first taste…tastes like liquid hops! There’s a soft mouthfeel that gently swishes all the great hop flavours around the mouth, with a sharply finishing bitterness that slowly fades and spreads to the sides of the mouth. I still don’t fully understand what ‘earthy’ flavours are, but I’ll go out on a limb and say that the bitterness is earthy. The malt backbone isn’t big, but neither is the bitterness so the balance still works for me. To be honest it’s hard to taste anything other than hops right now…not that I’m complaining.
There’s some honey malt sweetness in both the smell and the taste now. Not much, but enough to take this beer from being ‘great’ to ‘fantastic’. Otherwise it’s the same hyper-hop flavours from the first half. This is another 9% ABV beer that somehow manages to hide its alcoholic properties in the taste (maybe 9% is the magic number for getting folk tipsy quicker than they would expect?)
It’s kind of poetic that the 100th beer off the epic list accentuates the best thing that I’ve learnt about the world of beer on my quest so far; that hops are friggin’ awesome! The whole time I was waiting for the malt to stand up and be counted, but it never did. Usually this would disappoint me, but not with this beer…this beer is a pure celebration of the wonderfulness that is HOPS! Everything that’s good about them; sweet perfume, citrus tang, pine freshness, and ‘earthy’ bitterness (I think…). If anyone ever asked me to describe what exactly a hop tasted like, I’d direct them to this beer. Number 100 off the epic list…the hop hero.