Soaking Up the Suds
by James Crane
Sometimes less is more
When it comes to summer beers, the general feeling seems to be that less is more. Summer is a time generally thought to be more about quantity than quality. The hot weather beers seem to be judged on how smoothly they go down, not on their level of complexity. To an extent, this is understandable as a lot of big character cold weather beers — with their thickness and high alcohol contents — would be a bit difficult to swallow in the sweltering heat.
Poppycock, I say. There are still plenty of interesting beers out there that can provide you with the crispness you are looking for without being overbearing. Just because you’re sweating from every inch of your being doesn’t mean you can’t drink something fun and intriguing. There is a world of incredible beers out there that shan’t be ignored just because of a little sun.
This week’s beer is Victory’s Hop Wallop. Many people tend to stay away from beers with the word “hop” in the title. After having this brew, I will firmly say that it would be a mistake. Yes, they do have a reputation for being aggressive, and Hop Wallop certainly is in its own way, but any offense they provide is generally dampened down the more of it you drink. No, its not just because its getting you drunk. Your tongue, while perhaps initially unable to cope with the deluge of bitter and strong flavors on it, eventually adjusts and a whole other side of the beer opens up that was previously lost under the stronger flavors.
Before I get too far ahead of myself, however, let’s talk about its beautiful pour. Hop Wallop is a perfect golden color with an adequate amount of head. It didn’t leave much in the way of lacing, but that’s OK. I didn’t want something that was cloying or sticky anyhow, on account of the hot and sticky air I found myself surrounded by when I cracked it open. Bubbles rose lazily through the glass, promising adequate carbonation without going overboard.
The smell wasn’t as overpowering as I thought it would be. You could smell a good amount of hops to be certain, but they were more floral and citrusy in nature and backed up by the smell of sweet malts. There was a little bit of a yeasty smell, but not enough to make me expect any amount of funk in the taste. It was just enough to make me think of bread.
At first swallow, my tongue was blown away by bitter. There was a certain sweetness behind it, however, that intrigued and promised more to come. In subsequent sips, more was indeed revealed.
There were floral and citrus notes that came before the bitter finish as well as the taste of pine. All of this was backed up by delicious cereal like and grainy malts with just a hint of rye, though I may have imagined that. It was incredibly crisp and went down really well.
Surprisingly, this beer boasts and ABV of 8.5 percent, making it much stronger than other summer brews. I’m not sure where they hide it, because it neither tasted nor drank like it was strong as it was. I could find it in myself to drink many of these. You should maybe find it in yourself to do the same. It’ll make for an interesting summer.