Food, Beer, and Travel

a dump from the mind of Jon Piper

A Hop Mess

Posted by jwpiper on February 1, 2009

Winter is supposed to be a time for imperial stouts and winter warmers, but somehow this month has become one of the best times for big IPAs here in Ohio. Sierra Nevada recently introduced Torpedo Extra IPA which utilizes a new technique for dry hopping in a beer which is just a bit to big to be called an IPA. Technically, and Amber Ale, Tröegs Nugget Nectar made it to Ohio for the first time this week just months after Tröegs decided to distribute in our great state. Founders Double Trouble is a brand new release from the Grand Rapids, MI brewery. Double Trouble is brewed to target palates more friendly to West Coast style IPAs. Bell’s Hopslam, of course, was recently released and brings its own unique take on an Imperial IPA. An impressive list of seasonals and brews brand new to the market.

It begs for a dedicated evening of hop enjoyment. And it just so happens that in the last month or two, I’ve amassed some additional deliciously hoppy beers in Three Floyds Dreadnaught IPA and Russian River Pliny the Elder.

All these hops also beg for some blue cheeses to go along, so I picked up three from Whole Foods. Gorgonzola Dolce ($11/lb) is a smooth, rich, ridiculously creamy cow’s milk blue cheese. Verde Capra Italian ($22/lb) is also rich and creamy, but a sharper more complex goat’s milk cheese. Gorgonzola Cremaficato ($17/lb) was the weak link – firmer, less complex, but still decent.

Some highlights from the tasting: Dogfish Head 60 Minute is almost swill – ok, not quite, but I won’t be buying it anytime soon. Tröegs Nugget Nectar is an incredible Amber Ale and an incredible value. Founders Double Trouble can’t quite compete with the best DIPAs from the West Coast. Bell’s Hopslam is like no other. Three Floyds Dreadnaught IPA is actually an incredible IIPA which endured a disservice by being consumed side-by-side with Russian River Pliny the Elder. I will be re-reviewing Dreadnaught based on my last two experiences with it. Finally, Pliny is hands down the best IPA I’ve ever had. And even nearly three month after brewing, as it greatness begins to fade, it was the best IPA in the bunch.

Now, it was fun to enjoy these beers back-to-back. But come on brewers, can’t we spread out the releases of these beers which don’t keep well? I’d like to enjoy these year round.


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