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If there's ever been a trend in the beer world that is a double edged sword, it's been he rampant obsession with over-hopped beer. Don't get me wrong, hops - those delicate, floral buds that give beer its characteristic bitterness - and, in particular, very hoppy beer ,are wonderful things. But around the time that Dogfish Head started to produce it's now infamous 60, 90, and 120 minute IPAs, some really lousy, over-hopped beers slipped onto the markets. Have you ever had an IPA so bitter it almost tasted of bile? Yeah, for me, that's too much. I much prefer my beer to have a balance of flavors rather than simply try to club me over the head with one extremely potent ingredient.
Almost every serious, American beer maker does an IPA now, each one claiming to be hoppier than the next. And with beer fans are snatching Double IPAs and Imperials up by the cases, these brewers would be crazy not to get in on the action. Which isn't to say all these brewers are just riding the wave, because there are some really interesting IPAs out there that could only be made by folks who truly live for the stuff. In this spirit comes Hop Stoopid, a super-hopped monster IPA from California's Lagunitas Brewing Company. But is Hop Stoopid really worth your time, or is it just another catchy name?
Hop Stoopid is made a little differently than many other hopped IPAs. While most beers see hops added at certain intervals in the boiling process, and others are dry-hopped afterwards to add aroma and flavor, Hop Stoopid eschews those practices for a more scientific one. Instead of using actual hops, Lagunitas first creates a potent hop extract, distilling all the flavors and alpha acids (bittering agents) from the buds down into a thick, syrupy substance. That hop extract is basically the pure essence of hops. It's also why Hop Stoopid tastes so different from many other hoppy IPAs.
Sure this beer is slightly bitter - and that's a good thing. But it's also completely saturated with a sweet, floral aroma that's so potent that you'll wonder if you ever had real hops before. The beer pours into deep gradations of amber and gold, leaving a lacey head that gives way to a perfectly full body. You'll smell and taste traces of grapefruit, apples, a slight spice, and an absolute blast of pure honey. A couple sips of Hop Stoopid, and I was convinced this might be one of the most balanced, best tasting IPAs available today.
It's also fairly potent at 7.7% ABV, but because it's so well balanced, it's still a beer you can sit down with and enjoy over a period of time. If you can find it, that is. I picked up Hop Stoopid at BX Beer Depot in Lake Worth, who sell out of the stuff almost as fast as they can get it. A woman in line absolutely cleared out the remaining stock after I had already bought my bottle, and it's likely that BX will sell out just as fast next time. Best thing to do is give a call to the store and find out just when they'll be getting it in. It also seems to be one of Lagunitas newer, more hard to find brews, especially when you consider their webpage has almost no information on it at all. Still, beer this good is bound to catch on quick, and I'm sure once more people taste Hop Stoopid the demand will shoot up.
Hop Stoopid is available in 22 oz. bottles.
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