Another BrewDog beer for me! Their frequent email updates to my mailbox make it all too easy for me to choose my next drink. I really respect this brewery – I often head to my local bar whenever I hear of a new brew that I would like to try.
This time though, my partner not only alerted me about this particular variety, but she also bought it for me following a run of long, busy shifts! Introducing one of the breweries’ strongest beers… ‘Hop Shot’. The first thing you notice is the size difference (an understandable, intentional move by BrewDog) – the bottle is tiny, but this is due to its insane percentage of 20%. I looked at the bottle and it appeared like an espresso version of a beer – a beer on steroids or a supercharged mini bottle of golden liquor.
Earlier in the summer I spent a fantastic weekend in Brussels for my birthday. Since then my love for bold, punchy beers has grown exponentially. I have developed an appreciation for dubbel and tripple (double or triple in the UK) beers, the latter of which can knock you for six (or so I was informed when I suggested these for my dad to try – he was floored)!
Having tried many strong brews over previous months, it was time to lift the bar to greater heights. This wasn’t double or triple, this was the next level – QUADRUPLE.
The small bottle had a pleasant green background (my favourite colour J) with the typical BrewDog font announcing “Hop Shot”. I clipped the cap off and poured the deep golden liquid into an appropriate glass – which certainly wasn’t as full as usual and lacked the white, frothy head I have become accustomed to with these beers. I settled down on the couch with the glass – I was excited as this beer ticked all the boxes I usually look for. It is a West Coast IPA – these are usually bright in flavour, smooth in texture and often provide a punch of citrus that flows throughout the drink. When combined with an outrageous ABV of 20%, this was going to be a big (though ironically little) drink!
Before even tasting the beer you could sense the strength of it by its smell. I inhaled deeply quite near the glass and it felt as though it was going to singe the inside of my nose! It was at this point I knew I had to treat the beer with respect. Once over this initial hurdle, I sipped this beer cautiously and was mightily impressed. It is described as the “juggernaut” and I now appreciate the nickname. Despite the unnatural heat and warmth that crashes on your palate from the high percentage alcohol (which is achieved by a process known as ice distillation), it surprisingly manages to keep traditional IPA flavours. There is a lot of citrus to it and overall I am pleasantly reassured that it tastes like a beer!
In hindsight, the other mistake that I made was that I didn’t place a couple of cubes of ice in it to combat the intensity of the warmth – much like one would do with whisky. The balance will be found upon avoiding the addition of too much ice, as this would likely diminish the flavours of the beer.
Rating: 3.75/5. I was very satisfied with the essence Hop Shot. As per BrewDog’s other inspirations, it continues to try and push the boundaries with respect to flavour and strength. A big success I would say. Not an “everyday beer”, but something I would have at special occasions.
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