The Hop Brief: Alpine Beer Co. Pure Hoppiness
Enjoyed on 3/22/2011
Brewery: Alpine Beer Company
Location: Alpine, CA
Beer: Pure Hoppiness
Presentation: 22 oz. Brown Glass Bottle, Capped.
Style: American Style Double India Pale Ale
A West Coast Double IPA
So mega-hopped it will take you to hop heaven. We’ve used hops in the boil, more hops in the giant hopback, and added to that, an incredible amount of dry-hopping for that cutting-edge “hop bite.” Once you’ve tasted this unique beer, all others pale in comparison. 1.072 OG Classified IBU 8%ABV
Beer Advocate: A (4.33)
Rate Beer: 100 (3.94)
Jess & DSR got to go to San Diego Beer Week late last year. They wanted me to join them. A bb.com trip. I couldn’t swing it. I may forever regret it.
Yes, there will come a day. I will one day make it to America’s true hop haven. In the mean time, tonight, I (finally) enjoy my Christmas gift from the better 2/3 of your blotter. Can’t fucking wait!
Pure Hoppiness is pure gorgeousness in the glass. The color is a bright, polished bronze topped with an impressive, rocky head of pure white. The clarity is very strong but if you look closely you will see tiny little bits of hop, most likely from a generous dry-hopping after fermentation.
The crown begins proud and tall, then settles a bit around the edges. This provokes the “rocky” moniker, creating a plateau like mound of foam that sits like a dollop of whipped cream on top. After several minutes most of the bubbles have deflated and a very thin froth is all that remains on the surface. The sides of the glass…riddled with sticky lace. A constant reminder of what once was.
The carbonation appears strong to me, but considering that most PNW beers are horribly lacking in this area, maybe it’s average.
If I were to describe the appearance of my perfect IPA, this would be it to the t. Perfect score.
This beer definitely solicits a verbal “oh my god!” when brought to the nose. If one could see odor, like cartoon characters can (picture a ravenously hungry wolf following the scent trails of a baking pie right up to the window of a warm, forest cottage), this would be absolutely steaming with perfume. It’s dense and sappy. I feel like I’m wearing a hop flower as a mask. My cilia is crowded with lupulin. I could sneeze in a pilsner right now and it would instantly become an IPA.
The hops are well conceived and expertly blended. Pine and flowers may be said to dominate, but pretty much every standard hop scent is present. Admittedly, I’d be hard pressed to place tropical fruits amongst the cornucopia, but would you call that standard? I don’t think that I would. I digress. Pine, flowers, citrus, bitter rind…fantastic!
The malts are able to make their presence known with only the slightest bit of warming. They come across a bit nondescript, but they’re there. It’s mostly a sweetness that can’t conceivably come from the other 3 ingredients in beer. I must say that, after that initial inhale, I’m fully flabbergasted that there is any balance to this beer. Absolutely a perfect score.
This beer feels like it should feel across the tongue for a double IPA. It has density. The sugars are dissolved into solution and create a syrup without being too cloying or heavy. Perfect in viscosity.
The carbonation calms with time, like almost every beer, and there’s not many bubbles that could penetrate the massive body anyway, but I’d still prefer there to be more of an effort. I’d be happier with more prickle on my tongue when I swish it around a little in my mouth. Carbonation always enhances the experience.
The thing here is that, after everything that has preceded this section, it almost seems unfathomable that the flavor could compete. I can sadly say that it really doesn’t, but I feel ever so strongly about offering the disclaimer. This IPA may just have the best nose in the world. A well thought out usage of hopback and dry-hopping has the potential to do that. The flavor simply can’t compare.
BUT…if I approach it with an open mind, all IPAs created equal, it’s remarkably drinkable. The balance is sound and the bitterness is minimal. The hops taste earthy and highly floral, the malts taste pale with a soft caramel undertone.
Sweetness and bitterness seem to converge together in a moonlit dance. The mouthfeel, again, allows for it all to be experienced in upstanding class. We are living in a world of hop usage nobility right now and I feel under-dressed.
I feel that the lion’s share of the flavors burn brightest at the very end of the sip. I struggle to pinpoint the specifics of the hop and malt components as the fluid dances about my taste buds, but just moments after the swallow, a hearty smack of grapefruit strikes me. Then, just following, I get a mouthful of dry, grainy biscuit. At no other point in the journey does the word “dry” seem appropriate, save for the very end. Just in time for another quenching gulp.
Have you noticed that the opening track of almost every album that has been released over the past 10 years, if not for much longer before that, is one of the best songs on the album? It’s important from a marketing standpoint. You need to entice the listener immediately or they will move along. That’s the kind of world we live in. There is just so much out there that artists have to wow you early and often to stand out. far too often, what follows is a bunch of filler. One or two good singles and then a bunch of crap. Yet another digression. My disdain for overproduced pop music could easily lead me astray.
Let me be clear, this beer is absolutely not a one hit wonder, but it kind of reminds me of a good album that has a flawless opener and then…a bevy of solid songs that never quite live up to the standard that was set at the beginning. At first smell, this beer is hop heaven. The moment the beer enters the mouth, it pops with sappy hop burn. Then, it plods along as a good double IPA with impressive balance. Will I give this beer a bad score? Fuck no! It’s god damn excellent. But…it does pain me a little that it failed to sustain the early high. Ever so close to perfection. Perhaps they had to leave room for Exponential Hoppiness. Need!
Color/Head/Retention [maximum of 1.00 point possible]: 1.00
Odor [maximum of 2.00 points possible]: 2.00
Carbonation/Mouthfeel [maximum of 1.00 point possible]: 0.92
Hop Flavor [maximum of 3.00 points possible]: 2.61
Malt Flavor/Balance [maximum of 2.00 points possible]: 1.86
Finish/Aftertaste [maximum of 1.00 point possible]: 0.96