Beer: Hop Henge Brewery: Deschutes Brewery Style: Imperial IPA ABV: 9.3 percent
In ancient times, hundreds of years before the dawn of history, lived a strange race of people: the druids. No one knows who they were or what they were doing, but their legacy remains, hewn into the living rock...of Stonehenge!
But that's old news. Recently, we've discovered an even more mysterious construct, built by a group of druids living at the mouth of the Deschutes river. These enigmatic monks were hop worshippers -- archaeologists have found depictions of the bitter cones at multiple dig sites in the area. But this backup evidence is unnecessary. To appreciate the group's focus on lupulin, one need only experience Hop Henge.
This bold creation -- one scientists are now calling an "experimental IPA" -- is crafted with outrageous amounts of hops indigenous to the area. Centennial, Cascade and Chinook are the ones we've been able to identify, though our researchers say they've also detected the presence of two as-yet-unidentified hop varietals. It seems the monks used these hops not only in the standard boiling stage of Hop Henge's creation, but also dry-hopped their beer, giving it a massive hop aroma. Pale and Munich malts were also added to the brew, though they did little to temper the thing's bitterness -- scientists have clocked Hop Henge at 99 International Bittering Units, or IBU.
Though based the ancient and experimental recipes, Hop Henge is still a delightful beverage. Poured into a snifter, the drink shimmers in a perfectly clear shade of Princeton orange, with a gloriously well-formed head of light khaki. The foam slowly recedes, becoming a thick, creamy top layer and leaving behind glorious walls of spotted lace.
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The nose: tons of grapefruit, fresh-cut grass, sugar-coated orange slices and crackers. Not too complicated, but enjoyable. The flavor is similarly straightforward, like a simple syrup derived of boiled sugar and grass. The down-soft medium body has nice heft, made syrupy by hop oils. The brew's bitterness is brash, coating the tongue in flavors of lime and grapefruit peel blend with hefty alcohol. Mild carbonation lightly pinches the tongue before a clean finish with just a splash of peppery alcohol.
Scientists say the druids only crafted a minimal amount of Hop Henge -- once it's gone, it likely won't return for at least a year. Discover this mysterious creation while you can.
Zach Fowle is a Certified Cicerone. He works at World of Beer in Tempe.