The Hop Brief: 21st Amendment Hop Crisis
Enjoyed on 6/28/2011
Brewery: 21st Amendment Brewery
Location: San Francisco, CA
Beer: Hop Crisis
Presentation: 12oz. Can
Style: American Style Double India Pale Ale
Barrel: Oak (technically spirals not barrel)
Hops: Columbus, Centennial, Cascade (bittering); Simcoe, Ahtanum, Amarillo, Cascade (dry hop)
Malt: Pale, Munich, Dextrose (Cara-Pils)
Shaun and Nico have to break out of Alcatraz. And fast. The Hop Syndicate is hoarding hops, depriving the people of their right to hoppy, aromatic beer. Join Shaun and Nico on their adventure to Free the Hops! First, they plan a daring escape through the sewer pipe, then they surf monster waves on ironing boards, and finally they attempt a high speed cable car getaway.
Hop Crisis. Crisis? What Crisis? A few years ago, when hop prices shot through the roof and the worldwide hop market went into a tailspin, at our pub in San Francisco we decided there was only one thing for us to do. We made the biggest, hoppiest IPA we could imagine and aged it on oak for good measure. This Imperial IPA breaks all the rules with more malt, more hops and more aroma.
Beer Advocate: B+ (3.98)
Rate Beer: 99 (3.8)
This is 21A’s newest release. I love to see imperials in cans – just a damn good idea. I can’t wait until the day that you can get a Trappist ale in a can.
It still feels a little weird for me to pour a beer into a glass from a can. The chugging that occurs from the shape of the opening in the can causes a nice inch plus high crown to form. It’s pure white and rocky and stands tall for some time. As it recedes, the portion of the glass that once played host to a heavy cloud stands scared by what once ruled – the lacing is a heavy cake. Cara-Pils did it’s job.
The beer itself is, not surprisingly, quite pale in color. There is no crystal malts listed on the website. I’d say it’s yellow drifting slightly toward orange. The carbonation appears strong with a steady pace of bubble-rise. 21A must have filtered this after dry-hopping because it’s super clear. All in all, a highly attractive brew
Were I to keep this brew in the can that it was packaged in I would likely miss out on much of it’s odoriferous qualities. When HC is colder it wafts a damp, musty scent steeped both in sopping with resin hops and deep woods oak. As things warm a bit, a good swirl of the glass brings notes of pine and fruit. If Pineapple was in fact equal parts pine needles and apples, it may stand a proper descriptor, though the suggestion alone seems to cause me thoughts of the actual tropical fruit as it naturally exists.
The nose is insanely perfumy. Again, as thoughts lead to words lead back to common usage, consciousness propels me to fantasies of gowned women with essential hop oils delicately smeared below each ear. An intoxicating delight for any potential suitor fortunate enough to be within range of her supple flesh.
Excuse me, this beer is doing strange things to me. The scent has a piercing edge to it that can stun the soul. When it strikes right, all of the nuances curl into a ball of fury and then quickly deconstruct, splashing over your head and down your skin as one entity to balance all forces of nature. The flowers and fruits and wood and pine and sweet malts all coalesce into goosebumps and raised hairs. This is more than beer.
Once again, sight leads and touch verifies. The rapid effervescence that was noted in the appearance is not a mirage. The liquid really crackles with sharp carbonation on the back of the tongue, but the body is by no means conceding it’s power. The two forces tangle with great results. Properly viscous, smooth flowing, it glides across the flavor sensors and down to mingle with blood cells and fondle brain receptors. A medium of transcendence that hides in plain site.
Somehow, the flavor of this beer bursts more maniacally than any other component. It seems to mock the scent and appearance, as if to say, “Yes, it’s your job to to reel them in with outward beauty, but I’m the heart and soul that they fall in love with.”
The hops are not as decipherable here in the flavor as in the nose, but that’s not to be thought of as a detriment because the profound balance is what achieves this. The malty sweetness and oaky, caramel and toffee notes really play to my sweet tooth. The bitterness is there, and actually more and more pronounced, in tandem with the booziness, as the beer warms. Piney hops seem to burn my mouth slightly, but it’s a good pain, like drinking an extra spicy ginger beer.
The aftertaste begins with a lot of bitterness and sharp piney hops. It’s slightly dry due to this but then, as the mouth waters to compensate and warms back to body temperature, the malty sweetness peaks back through the hop shroud and brings notes of cinnamon and caramel. The oak presence is likely most brightly spotlighted here.
Hop Crisis is about as complex as an IPA can be. There is not a single area of assessment above that found anything other than a highly stratified makeup. I find it very educational actually, as a brewer, to experience how the 21A brewers allowed the oak to bring the balance that would more traditionally come from an element of darker specialty grains. Without the oak I think this would be a vastly different story. It would be a bitter monster with hops completely dominating your every thought. For some, that may be ideal but for this writer, I couldn’t be happier with the results.
I should note that I was listening to Eternal Tapestry and Sun Araw’s recently recorded collaborative, live, improve set on loop whilst writing this review. It surely played a role in my rantings.
Color/Head/Retention [maximum of 1.00 point possible]: 1.00
Odor [maximum of 2.00 points possible]: 1.98
Carbonation/Mouthfeel [maximum of 1.00 point possible]: 1.00
Hop Flavor [maximum of 3.00 points possible]: 2.85
Malt Flavor/Balance [maximum of 2.00 points possible]: 1.98
Finish/Aftertaste [maximum of 1.00 point possible]: 0.96
Total [maximum of 10.00 points possible]: 9.77