In this never-ending sea of hop bombs and extreme beers there seems to be one common thread: Pacwest hops. The IIPA and American Style Barleywines that I have experienced all seem to have one, if not all three of the Cs hops in them. Those are Columbus, Centennial, and of course the most popular, Cascade. There is nothing wrong with these hops, though their overuse is turning “Extreme” beers into the ordinary. Their citrus and pine aromas emerge from the bottles of almost every extreme beer I open.
A couple of years ago I would have to make a special trip to find anything over 50 IBUs (International Bittering Units). Finding a bottle of beer that weighed in at 70 “ 90 IBUs would be a rare treat. Today, most beer store shelves are brimming with hoppy offerings. Alas, a lot of the tastes are similar due to their reliance on the three Cs to pull bitterness from. That is, until now. Boston Brewing Company introduced us to their Imperial Pilsner in 2005. This 130+ IBU beer packed with noble hops was an instant hit with beer aficionados. Not resting on their laurels, Boston Beer tweeked the beer and the artwork to deliver to us what I feel is the most unique hop bomb to date. Due to hit the shelves in the next few weeks, this is the most distinctive style to hit my desk in a while.So kudos to Jim Koch for breaking away from the world of piney and citrus drenched aroma hops and delivering a beer that adds another dimension to the beer world and hopefully a new component for the beer style guidelines.Samuel Adams Hallertau Imperial Pilsner – This beer is a cloudy apple cider color with almost no head. The last batch I am pretty sure was made with floral Saaz hops. This batch is earthy Hallertau hops. The aroma is very dirty and earthy with a touch of cheese and grass. The palette is quiet with soft carbonation. The hops take over immediately with an ever-so-slight malt sweetness at the beginning of the palette. It finishes very dirty and bitter. This is truly a hophead’s dream. I suggest pairing it with an aged sharp cheddar cheese and some smoked meats.