Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Hoppy Halloween

If you've been reading this blog for any length of time, you've probably figured out that I really like hops. Not that I don't like a good malty brew, mind you, but like most homebrewers, I do have a "thing" for the flowers of the Humulus lupulus plant.

Yes, I'm a hophead.

The brewers up at Midnight Sun are clearly hopheads also, for if they weren't, why would they have created their Obliteration series of beers?

Here's what they have to say about the series:

"With passion and purpose, we present this series of hop-centric beers. Using different hop varieties and brewing techniques, we aim to capture bold, distinct hop characteristics in aroma, flavor and finish. While we explore the world of hops, we invite you to learn along with us: these beers offer an incredible opportunity to experience the diversity of hops while engaging the palate and obliterating the senses. "

The beers range from 8 to 10% ABV and anywhere from 80 to 100 (!) IBUs. Now that's hoppy, my friends.

Thanks to my friend Gene Diamond from Specialty Imports, I was able to sample both Obliteration IV and Obliteration V.

Obliteration IV is unusual, in that it's made from 50% malted wheat; most IPAs do not use wheat in their grain bill. It weighs in at 8.7% ABV and a staggering 100 IBUs, so calling it a Double IPA is no lie. It poured a clear, golden amber into the glass, with a massive, rocky head. The aroma let's you know that there are hops a plenty in this one, with the citrus/grapefruit notes characteristic of the Amarillo hops used for dry hopping. Simcoe and Chinook hops were also used in this brew.

The taste is resiny/citrusy from the massive hop bitterness, interacting interestingly with the wheat malt, which provides some earthy, cereal notes. The mouthfeel is lively, do the carbonation, but with some chewiness that finishes smoothly. The finish is dry and leaves you ready for another sip.

Overall, a very interesting beer, particularly in the use of wheat in an IPA.

Obliteration V is a little more conventional, in that it's an all-barley IPA, 8.2% ABV and "only" 95 IBUs. Given that some experts say the human taste buds max out at about 80 IBUs, I'm not sure that those 5 IBUs matter very much...

The hops being showcased this time are Nugget, Warrior, and our old friend Amarillo, with the first two being used as bittering hops and all three being used for dry hopping.

The beer pours an orange amber, with another good, rocky head of foam. The aroma again lets you know that you're entering a world of hop here, with lemon-citrus and piney-resin elements battling it out for possession of your nostrils. The taste is a little less bitter than I expected (maybe those 5 IBUs do matter), with a good solid malty sweetness to contrast with the hoppy bitterness. I get some fruit notes as well, maybe something exotic, like mango? Plenty of mouthfeel from the maltiness, and a nice long finish. I don't think I could have more than one of these, given how intense the flavors are, but it was a very interesting beer.

If you're reading this in the Kenai-Soldotna area, be sure to check out this week's Redoubt Reporter, our local free newspaper. It contains a very nice article by Jenny Neyman on some of the seasonal brews at the local breweries. You will also see a tease for a column written by yours truly, with the same name as this blog. It will be appearing monthly for as long as Jenny decides to put up with it. The Reporter is available online at http://redoubtreporter.wordpress.com/ for those of you who don't live around here.

Rest assured that I intend to continue writing this blog and that it and the column will have quite significant differences. I'll be writing the column for a much more general audience, while this blog will continue to be what it's always been, a place for me to display my hardcore beer geekiness.

So that's a wrap for this week. Next week I will report of some of the other very interesting beers that I got from Gene of Specialty Imports, plus some other local developments.

Until Next Time, Cheers!

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