Thursday, July 25, 2013

Hopstorm IPA (BJ's Brewhouse)

If a storm is to conjure thoughts of strength and intensity, than this beer's name is a misnomer.  Today’s review is of Hopstorm, an IPA offered at BJ’s, a west coast chain restaurant and brewhouse. 

Hopstorm IPA
BJ's Restaurants, Inc. 
6.5% ABV

First, about BJ’s.  The establishment, though obviously a franchise joint, was mostly adequate.  While the cliché décor reflected its clear commercialism, the beer selection was sufficient, and the prices adequate.  The service, also good, was punctuated by casual conversation with the easy going barstaff.  East Coasters, specifically those in the mid-Atlantic region, may find BJs similar to, say, Rock Bottom, albeit a bit more customer-friendly.

Now, about the beer, bottom line upfront:  The house IPA, Hopstorm, was lifeless and easily upstaged by their Amber, the Jeremiah Red.  So, try that, not this.

To the specifics:

In the glass, Hopstorm was orange, but a bit darker than apricot.  Both head and tracing were minimal and the watery appearance was the first hint of the beer’s general malaise.

The aroma betrayed the India Pale Ale spirit.  It was a bit malty, with a sort of lager-like trait.  Absent were the familiar qualities of pine, grass, or tropical fruits typically associated with west coast IPAs.

While Hopstorm did have a basic hop bite that produced some popping on the palate, the flavor simply failed to impress.  On the IPA spectrum  this one existed so far to the side of lightness that it may as well have teetered off.   

Herein was Hopstorm's primary flaw. It seemed more an Amber; most notably because of a surprisingly dominant caramel backbone. Given the ambiguity of the Amber style, perhaps the comparison lacks value. The point is: Hopstorm's a poor representation of the style it currently claims.  

The profile was not without flavor.  Those flavors were simply without boldness.  What hints did exist included fig, orange, raisin and that aforementioned caramel maltiness.  But, overall, not a single of these notes were pronounced and certainly none remarkable.

Also unfortunate about Hopstorm was the longing it provoked for “what could have been.”  Given the unanticipated caramel influence, the addition of hoppiness commensurate to even the mildest of IPAs would have produced an excellently balanced beer.  Alas…

Overall, Hopstorm was a very poor example of an India Pale Ale.  It struck this drinker as being very amateurish --  The type of bland product expected from a novice homebrewer.

Hopstorm receives a meager one star (out of five) and the only recommendation is to avoid. 

If at this particular BJ’s (Seattle), pass on the Hopstorm, and try the Jeremiah Red instead.  Better yet, go directly for the more established of the local brews on draft, Mac and Jack’s African Amber (excellent!) or the Georgetown Brewing Company's Manny’s Pale Ale (very good) and, of course…



  1. I had both last night , being no expert I found the hopstorm a pleasant drink , the red tho was like dishwater

  2. I had both last night , being no expert I found the hopstorm a pleasant drink , the red tho was like dishwater