Fresh From the Bine (Hop Vine) – Ultimate 6er
When it comes to drinking beer, it is a general consensus that fresh beer is the way to go. I do not feel that this is always true, but for a lot of beer styles, one could argue that it is. Stouts, porters and barrel aged beers in my opinion are the acceptation to this. Think about wine—most red wine ages great, whereas white wine does not age as well. With time, beer and wine both undergo changes. The flavors develop and the aromas alter—sometimes for the better and sometimes for the worse. Over the past few years, I have learned to love the hop and all that it has to offer. In my opinion, hoppy beers are better fresh. So, I decided to find some of the freshest hop forward beers and indulge into hop heaven.
BYOB BBQ joint you say—I think yes!
Since I knew an entire sixer may be a bit much for dinner (especially with my selection of beers), I decided it would be wise to stick with 4 (Fat Heads Hop Ju Ju, Schlafly AIPA, Great Lakes Brewing Company Chillwave, and Sixpoint Hi-Res).
Eli’s BBQ is one of my favorite places to eat in Cincinnati. It is a small, old time joint that puts out some of the most spectacular BBQ that I have ever had. If you are ever in the Cincinnati area, be sure to check it out for yourself—you will not be disappointed.
The three of us arrived before our other two friends so the only sensible thing to do while we waited was crack open a beverage and enjoy. Before proceeding onto the beer, I have a quick story for ya. Last week, I had the pleasure of going up to Fat Heads. As my fiancée and I sit down at the table, our waitress informed us of the bad news—the JuJu was tapped out. As sad as I was, I was not too concerned because I had just picked up a pack right before going there from a nearby Trader Joe’s. She informed us that people have been coming in all day trying to find it for sale and she did not know of anywhere that still had it in stock—I guess you could say I got a little lucky.
Anyway back to dinner. I popped that fat man off the top of my beer and poured out the liquid gold/copper into my snifter. Hop JuJu Imperial IPA (9% ABV and 100 IBUs), has loads of fresh hop aromas (pine and citrus), with a hint of dank and grass. Taste consisted of sweet citrus and pine that was balanced nicely with an aggressive grassy hop backbone. Upon completion of this beer, our friends had arrived and it was time to place our orders, and select the next beer.
Schlafly AIPA (7.2% ABV) was bottled on January 21. It is a seasonal release that is only available for a few months and is by far my favorite of their IPA special releases. It is brewed with 100% American hops—thus the name A IPA. So fellow Americans, if you get the privilege to find this beer put on your favorite all American song and enjoy. Looking back, this beer should have been consumed prior to the JuJu, but you live and learn, so I won’t complain. It had a great color for an IPA and had a nice white head that quickly dissipated. I picked up lots of fresh citrus notes with a hint kiwi and mango—my kind of IPA. There was less of malty backbone to it in comparison to the strong Imperial IPA but it was a good beer none the less and paired great with my smoked turkey sandwich. You could say I was in heaven!
Upon completion of the AIPA, I decided to pop open one of my favorite double IPA’s on the market. GLBC Chillwave (9.4% ABV) was just released over a week ago and is probably the freshest on my list. I would like to add that this beer will always be known as Alchemy Hour—just saying. Last year, I stumbled upon this beer for the first time and it is now something I look forward to every year. It had a nice golden color with a good head. Aromas of hops and more hops, with some malt and bread tossed into the mix. Taste is full of fresh hops—nice pine, citrus, and loads of other tropical fruit to compliment the malty backbone. This is one of those beer that hides the ABV quite well—so be careful.
By now my food is gone and the plates have been taken away. The night was still young and I had one more beer to go before dinner could be officially complete. Sixpoint Hi-Res (11.1%, 111 IBUs) was a great way to accomplish this task. Colors of amber honey, with a mild to moderate carbonation. Aromas of mango, lemon and grapefruit were just some of the smells that I picked up on. The taste was loaded with fresh dry hopped hops—hoppy pine flavors with a nice citrus finish.
For anyone who is actually looking at the ABV level of these beers and wondering how I was not trashed at this point—I decided it be best to split each one with another friend at the table—gotta share the love.
Due to being an adult and having that whole work thing to do, my other two beers of my sixer had to be consumed at a later date. Devoting yourself to a sixer may not seem like much in a night, but when they are all greater than 7%, I find it becomes quite the task.
For you Coloradans, you probably know all about my next choice from Avery Brewing Company. The Maharaja Imperial IPA (10.2%, 102 IBUs), was another great addition to my fresh hop sixer. The brew is released every January, with this specific batch being No. 18. It just recently started popping up on the shelves here in Ohio, so I decided to toss into the mix. Since it is a bomber, it does not really fit into a true six pack, but does that really matter? I think not. This beer is dark—think ruby red with an amber hue. Lots of wonderful tropical fruit upfront, with a nice, malty pine on back. Taste followed suit—pineapple, pine, peach, with a hop bitterness to mellow everything out. A few months ago, I had the Maharaja for the first time (meaning it was last year’s batch and past its prime—thus the reason for the article). The biggest difference was the amount of fresh hop aroma/taste that is lost as it aged, and that is why I personally love hops. You may not agree with me on this topic, and that is fine because everyone has their own taste and opinion, and that is why beer drinking is so great.
To complete this remarkable fresh picked hop sixer—I decided to add Bell’s Hopslam to the mix. After all what kind of fresh hop sixer would be complete without the beer that causes people to search far and wide in every January? At 10% ABV, this ale brewed with honey and hops is nothing short of world class. If you have had the pleasure of having this, you know what I am talking about, and if you have not, well I’m sorry for your loss. Be sure to check out this other great article all about one man’s epic adventure of finding Hopslam.
As always, thanks for reading and drink ’em while they’re fresh!