Coronado Sock Knocker and the Hop Superfriends

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Beer: Sock Knocker Brewery: Coronado Brewing Co. Style: Imperial IPA ABV: 8.5 percent

In this bottle of Coronado Sock Knocker, there are assembled the world's four greatest hop varieties, created from the cosmic legends of the universe (and, you know, hop farmers):

  • Amarillo: a hop discovered growing wild in a Washington vineyard, with the power of orange peel!
  • Centennial: one of three wonder-triplet hops known as the "C" hops, it's also known as "super Cascade" and has the power of citrus!
  • Columbus: AKA Tomahawk, another wonder-triplet, with the power of woody, resinous qualities!
  • Simcoe: a bitingly bitter and aromatic variety released in 2000, with the power of pine and passion fruit!

Their mission: to fight injustice, to right that which is wrong, and to serve all mankind -- with flavor!

If you're missing the reference, that's alright -- you just didn't watch as many cartoons as I did as a kid. You probably had a very happy childhood running around outside and playing with sticks or whatever. Those of us with lazier parents, however, will understand that the preceding intro was lifted from Super Friends, an especially appropriate bit of source material since this week's beer, Coronado Sock Knocker, is brewed with a veritable Justice League of super-hops.

See also: 5 Session IPAs to Try Right Now

A special May release, Sock Knocker comes to us from Coronado Brewing Co., a brewery founded by brothers Ron and Rick Chapman in 1996 on the affluent island of Coronado, Calif. Inside both the CBC pub located on the island as well as in the brewery's production facility and tasting room in San Diego, you'll find taps shaped like the unmistakable red and white spires of the Hotel del Coronado, and flowing from them will be hoppy, West Coast-style brews.

Sock Knocker is, for my money, the best beer Coronado makes -- 22 ounces of 90-IBU hop juice. Poured into a snifter, it gives off a dull, hazy golden-amber glow, like pale barley tea. Atop the liquid, a thin blanket of ivory fuzz provides a worthy place for the hop superfriends to combine their powers.

So, about those hops: Amarillo, Centennial, Columbus and Simcoe are some of the most common varieties found in American brews that focus on bitterness. They're prized mostly for their aromatic qualities, which recall the familiar scents listed above: orange, pine, passion fruit, weed. Each hop has its own particular musk to contribute, and when different hops combine, new aromas can emerge. Such is the case here -- we have notes fresh-cut grass and orange peel, which can be expected, but mingling with these are new, unexpected scents like guava and mango. A base of Hawaiian honey rolls further accents the juicy, tropical bouquet.

The same fruity guava/grass/citrus melange can be found in Sock Knocker's flavor, but it adds pine needles, honey, orange blossom and baked biscuits to the mix. The body is smaller than you'd expect for this flavor and alcohol heft -- a fluffy medium-light, spiced up with peppery alcohol and mild massaging bubbles. Sure, it's a bitter, resinous brew, but there's also quite a bit of sugar and fruit flavor to balance.

Sock Knocker is available now but will be gone soon, so get some while you can. The Super Friends would want you to.

This beer was sent to the author for purposes of a review.

Zach Fowle is a BJCP-recognized beer judge and a Certified Cicerone. He works at World of Beer in Tempe.

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