Saturday, September 14, 2013

New Belgium "Hop Kitchen" Hoppy Bock

This is certainly a lager like no other.

Hoppy Bock is the product of New Belgium Brewing's "Hop Kitchen," a series best described by the brewer on their websiteThe Hop Kitchen is here to cook up four beers per year for the most daring of palates. Only the boldest and hoppiest beers make it to the bomber.

Hoppy Bock may well be one of the four, but bold, unfortunately, is not the most appropriate adjective. Though, "unique," is quite apt.  

Like the others of the Hop Kitchen series, Hoppy Bock comes sealed in a bomber.  Upon settling in the glass, this beer is a very pale yellow, not unlike a pilsner or wheat beer, though, in this case, cleanly filtered.  

Hoppy Bock from New Belgium Brewing
6.9% ABV
70 IBUs

A creamy ivory head builds and slowly dissipates, leaving soap-sud lacing that dresses the entirety of the inner glass, and adheres to it steadfastly. 

The lacing is surprising and pleasing but, otherwise, the appearance of Hoppy Bock is underwhelming. It's bland and light in tint, and lacks richness of color. 

This beer is more aromatically compelling than it is aesthetically. That smell delivers an interesting experience as it is, at first, bursting in fruit, orange specifically, with hints of spring grass. Then the head fades, the fun begins, and the attributes reverse; grass becomes dominant. The orange trait accepts a background role. 

There is plenty to be said about this beer's flavor profile.  Let us begin with the obvious. Hoppy Bock is mighty fine, and delightfully gentle.  

The hops presence is initially introduced with a mild spice bite.  Peppers tingle the tip of the tongue, fade, and then collect near the top of the throat. 

That lovely lacing

This is a surprisingly bitter beer. Every bit of the 70 IBUs New Belgium claims. Not, however, bitter like coffee. But also unlike anything offered from west coast IPAs. Hoppy Bock is more earth and straw (the straw characteristic also in the aroma) than floral and fruits.  

While the hops are certainly driving this concoction, yeast proudly tags along shotgun, adding a sort of farmhouse complexion to the flavor profile, likely responsible for the straw-like characteristic described above.  A touch of dryness is due to a subtle hint of rye malt.

Texture is thin with little to no stickiness remaining in the mouth.

Hoppy Bock is neither balanced nor complex.  Instead, it exists as a beer cornucopia.  But tasty enough to make it worth drinking.  

Budweiser makes a lager.  This is not like that.  In the sense that Hoppy Bock is magnitudes more satisfying. But also totally different.  Hoppy Bock shares more in taste with pale ales than it does lagers.  

While the words above describe this beer in full, in summation, Hoppy Bock is like a slightly below average farmhouse ale dry-hopped to such a degree that its uniqueness makes it sufficiently interesting. digs beers that endeavor to break the mold.  Hoppy Bock challenges the lager style, and drags it to a place that it has likely never been.  For that, it is recommended.  Yet, in general, Hoppy Bock is only an averagely enjoyable beer.  

So, New Belgium's Hoppy Bock etches an interesting place on the TheCraftBeerGuru scale. Let's call it a 2.5 star beer that is, nevertheless, worth checking out. 


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