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I do not have a discerning tongue. Subtle flavors, nuanced tastes, they all escape my Neanderthalian tongue. And that’s why I revere Sierra Nevada’s new Hoptimum IPA: there’s nothing in any way subtle about it.
So it’s time to wax lyrical about that about which much lyric has been waxed: beer with lots of hops. It’s a real phenomenon, this hop thing, and it’s all in celebration of the bold, unrestrained, impossible-to-miss taste. (As well as puns; it’s a near requirement that any hop-heavy brew have an equally pun-heavy moniker: Tricerihops, Hop-ocalypse, Hoptical Illusion, Hop-Notch etc etc.) Most bottles advertise themselves as being brewed with an “irresponsible” or “obscene” amount of hops, words whose normally negative connotations somehow flip and reverse themselves to make hopheads like me froth at the mouth. And in terms of kick-in-the-mouth type bitterness, Hoptimum is about as good as it gets.
Indeed, right on Hoptimum’s label, below a daguerreotypeish portrait of a Victorian-era man whose head has been replaced with a hop cluster, are the words “Whole-Cone Imperial IPA.” I’m not 100% sure on the precise production process described here, but to a hop-addict like myself “Whole-Cone” means something like what “uncensored” means to a DVD-purchasing pubescent male. It is as if, in a swivet of hop-celebration, any discernment on the part of the brewers was cast aside in favor of complete and total hop inclusion. One imagines besotted brewers sneaking into the brewery at 3 AM and dumping whole barrels of unfiltered hops into massive vats of beer, giggling the whole time at their reckless debauchery and somehow out of all this emerges the inescapable, hop-soaked taste that all of us obtusely tongued have been pining after.