Sounds a bit like a fairy tale, right? Tonight’s adventure was going to feature a much-loved lager, Hop House 13, with a new beer twist. A huge “Thank You” to Mad Hops for sending me their product to try! These fun little bottles contain a concentrated flavour to add to your beers! Some people will question, “Why mess with your beer?!”, which I completely understand; however, these are meant to enhance, not detract, from your beery beverage.
With 6 different flavours, the squeeze bottles, though small, do make a cool looking line-up. Set atop my beer fridge initially, I took off the wrappers (actually quite an upsetting process for my inner zen). Nonetheless, with the flavours ready, it was time to get the beers out!
I took a couple of bottles of Hop House 13 from the fridge along with 1,2,3…….. 7 glasses! One for each new flavour profile and one for the original beer on its own (comparative and quality control purposes only of course). I added what was approximately the recommended serving size, realising that this was not going be to accurate at all – you are supposed to add just over 1ml per glass! It was a bit of guesswork, though I’m sure that when my partner reads this she will have her head in her hands; she’s used to measuring out exact microliters for her biological PhD experiments!
Here’s how the line-up looked:
I was drawn to the colour change produced by the small jet of concentrate added into each glass. The natural beer poured a light golden colour, but this would change right in front of your eyes as the flavour enhancer rolled through the glass. Wow! I had created my own little beer rainbow! Now to the tasting.
Hop House 13
A lovely lager produced by Guinness, in Dublin. I have fond memories of this beer and have had it many times. It’s familiar, making it perfect for experimenting with new flavours. A clear, golden beer is poured with a 2cm white foam head on top. As with most lagers, it is light and crisp on tasting, though I find that there is a great sweetness that comes from a well-balanced mix of malts and hops. It has some fruit touches to it, which then phase out, leaving a clean finish on your palate. It was brewed with the intention of being a bolder lager with more flavour – this beer hits that premise.
Rating: 3.75/5. I really do enjoy this lager – it delivers consistently, whether draught or bottle, on every single occasion that I have had it. If I’m at a bar where I’ve sampled the entire beer menu (which is starting to occur more often!) and I notice they stock Hop House 13 – it is always my go-to brew.
Now for the extra flavours!
Pale ale: Pale ales are a personal favourite of mine and this little addition complimented Hop House 13 very well. A soft bitterness was added to the brew, which complimented the sweet and fruit notes given from the lager.
Apple Amber: I was uncertain of how this would be, as the majority of “apple beers” taste closer to ciders than the typical beer flavours that I prefer. The beer was coloured slightly darker by this apple flavouring and an extra tang was now given to the lager. I really enjoyed it.
Mexican Lime: If I had been asked, “What would have been your favourite?” prior to sampling the Mad Hops hoard, I would have instantly said the Mexican Lime style. I really enjoy adding a fresh wedge of lime to Mexican cervezas and thought this would be an easy, quick method to recreate this. When sampling, I got the lime flavour on the nose, but it didn’t really come through on tasting. Maybe I didn’t put in enough? Or possibly I didn’t combine it with the right beer – oh well, I’ll just need to try it again!
Wild Blueberry: I wasn’t particularly excited about this flavouring – a flavour typically associated with ciders and I often overlook it I find it paired with beer. In spite of this, I am pleased to say that this went down quite well. A deep sweetness was provided, as well as a contrasting touch of sourness that lingered on your tongue at the end. The blueberry paired very well with the beer and truly enhanced it – it was also my partner’s personal favourite.
Cherry Wheat: I was really looking forward to this flavour. I took the deep, now cherry colour beer from the worktop, and noticed how much it immediately changed the aromas of the drink. The flavouring smelt great and reminded me of the fruit beers I had been lucky to try enough in Belgium. Whilst amazing by scent, unfortunately the cherry flavouring tasted more “medicinal” in flavour.
Irish Porter: Too dark for me, though I knew this was going to be the case prior to consumption – I was surprised by how much this little squirt could completely transform a beer that I usually very much enjoy.
So a mixed bag, though mostly successful and the concept is great! I don’t think that bars would be stocking these and promoting to have it with your local beers and I certainly wouldn’t go to a pub and add a squirt of these into a beer glass prior to pint pulling. Regardless of this though, there is definitely a place for it in every beer-lover’s home. Plenty of times I’ve had a beer and thought, “it just needs a bit more ‘x’”, and these Mad Hops flavours can be the extra thing that lifts those beers. Take them to the next barbecue you attend, or use them when there are a group of you having a beer tasting night at home – they are a great, portable size that will sit comfortably in your back pocket. I know I’ll certainly keep using them.
An issue that I knew prior to tasting, is that all of the flavours wouldn’t match with the one beer I chose to try them with. Better combinations will be out there, which will allow the concentrates to elevate other brews. So really, we have to keep trying them out and letting each other know what beers pair best with each Mad Hops flavour! So start experimenting and get your recommendations out there!
Thanks for reading guys – seen any great beers recently or seen something that you’d like a review on? Or any beer gadgets? Give me a shout out via the comments section below and I’ll try and find them!