This week, I picked up a four-pack of Funky Buddha Brewery's latest year-round core beer, Hop Stimulator, a 9.5% ABV, 88 IBU double IPA. The beer was just released to retailers this past Tuesday, so this first batch is still pretty fresh off the line.
Hop Stimulator is the next generation of a long-time taproom beer, Small Axe Big IPA. I'm an admitted fan of the original SABIPA, so with this new beer I'm coming at it with a lot of baggage.
What did they change? Why did they mess with it? Will Small Axe ever be the same again??
All I know is that now, Hop Stimulator will be available all the time, and it comes loaded with hops, including Cascade, Centennial, Citra, and Amarillo; some of the most famous and sought after hops in the industry.
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The beer pops open with a hiss and pours a brilliantly clear orange producing a decent sized slightly off-white cap of foam. The aromas are a bit subdued from what I was expecting right off the bat, but they are full of candied tangerine, starfruit, and hints of mango. On the tongue, it flows with a full mouthfeel and juicy sweetness, sharing a hint of an alcohol heat to it. The beer finishes with a cascade of back-of-the-throat dankness and a mild lingering bite of bitterness.
For those like myself who enjoy these types of citrus rind bitter IPAs, it solidly hits the mark. Hops here are being shown off in their citrusy nature, not in fully-fledged pine tree mode, so keep that in mind if you're a fan of piney and dry hop-laden beers.
Hop Stimulator is currently available at most anywhere you can buy beer for around $11.99 a four-pack.
Doug Fairall is a craft-beer blogger who focuses on Florida beers. He is a Certified Beer Server and has been a homebrewer since 2009. For beer things in your Twitter feed, follow him @DougFairall and find the latest beer pics on Clean Plate's Instagram.