Having grown up on the East Coast, my main exposure to West Coast IPAs is either through larger companies in my beer store (Stone, Sierra Nevada) or legend (Russian River).
I know when I hear “West Coast IPA,” I’m thinking some insanely hop-forward, piney, citrusy brew. Leave it to the folks at Caldera Brewing Company to alter my expectations a bit with their Hop Hash beer, which has an 83 on Beer Advocate.
Technically, Caldera classifies this as a “strong pale ale,” but to me that just means IPA. This brew is unique because it takes pure hop lupulin extracted and scraped from the pelletizing line that takes hop cones and turns them into cylindrical pellets. That is, they get their hops for this beer by scraping the leftover bits of resin.
Sounds … interesting.
The smell of Hop Hash was inviting enough, with scents of honey and orange coming through early and often. There’s no mistaking the novel use of hops (Simcoe and Centennial) gives this beer intense citrus dankness, although it becomes a little vegetative after a few whiffs. The use of Munich malt gives this beer a solid, baked bread backbone that I found hints of at the end of each smell.
It’s the taste that ruined this beer for me. It may be because the way Caldera utilizes its hops for this beer, but the bitterness was just too intense. Each sip gave piney impressions of a Oregon forest on my tongue, but with some heavy carbonation, flavors were wiped away in lieu of lingering bitterness. While the aroma of the hops fit their typical West Coast profile of citrus, there’s nothing really nothing going on with the flavor. It’s all muddled and nothing is distinguishable.
To make it worse, the aftertaste of Hop Hash was decidedly medicinal. If you like sucking on aspirin pills, this beer is for you!
I don’t, so this will be the first and last time I’ll probably have this beer.
Hop Hash stats:
- Malt: 2-Row, Munich and oats
- Hops: Simcoe and Centennial
- Additives/Adjuncts: N/A
- ABV: 6 percent
- Brewery: Caldera Brewing of Ashland, Oregon
“Don’t drink to get drunk. Drink to enjoy life.” — Jack Kerouac