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Beer Reviews

Hop Stoopid

Lagunitas Brewing Co.
Petaluma, CA
USA
http://www.lagunitas.com

Style: Imperial/Double IPA
ABV: 8.0%

Nigel’s Rating:
one beerone beerone beerone beerone beer   (World class.)


Comments:
Pair With:
Stoopid is is stoopid does …

I used to find solace in those philosophical words from one Mr. Forrest Gump. Mr. Gump, as anyone who saw his biography back in the mid 1990s would know, was a brilliant sage … sort of an idiot savant who on the outside seemed weak of mind, but in reality lived through some of the most historic events of the 1960s-1980s, often shaping them in very important ways. Mr. Gump served in Vietnam, met President Kennedy, turned Bubba Gump Shrimp into the preeminent seafood company in the world, and had an entrepreneurial streak that led to the development of a number of products we’re still familiar with today. Gump was fully engrossed in the Civil Rights movement, donated millions of dollars to charity, and infamously rescued Lieutenant Dan, the drugged-out, disabled homeless man who later became Director of Homeland Security under George W. Bush, from the brink of death. Mr. Gump was truly an American hero.

Unfortunately for Nigel, I recently learned that the biography of Mr. Gump was in fact largely fictitious, and that many of his brilliant ideas were stolen from other sources. This discovery left me feeling sad, bitter, and disillusioned with the world around me. Why, if we can’t put our faith in Forrest Gump, who can we believe in? The Chinese? Not bloody likely.

When I discovered Lagunitas’ Hop Stoopid Ale recently at the local liquor store, I initially scoffed at the opportunity due to my recent Gump revelations. However, Hop Stoopid turned out to be impossible to pass up. The reasons for this are multiple. First off, it’s a double IPA, my favorite style. Secondly, it’s a double IPA that checks in at a whopping 102 IBUs, which is tongue-numbingly delicious to a Hophead extraordinaire such as yours truly. Finally, Lagunitas is one of those wonderful Northern California breweries located near the hops hotbeds of the Pacific Northwest that love to utilize their location by making some of the lightest, hoppiest, tastiest brews found anywhere. Gump be damned, I’m gonna get Stoopid with this one.

Hops are like a box of chocolates … you never know what you’re gonna get. This is true with any double IPA, as there are so many versions of the hop, both American and European in origin, that you never know which one will be the go-to style for an IPA/double IPA. With a Northwest brewer, you typically expect Cascade, though you can’t be surprised if you discover Centennial, Amarillo, Goldings, Willamette, Simcoe … hell, I can’t even name ‘em all here. What I’ve discovered lately is I’ve had a harder time pinpointing the hop(s) of choice. I credit this to the quality of today’s brewers, as they have learned to make hop monsters that are more balanced, and combine a number of hop varieties in order to utilize the best elements of a number of types.

Hop Stoopid falls right in line with that. It’s got a huge hop profile (obviously), but I can’t pinpoint the exact players involved. Regardless, I’m happy to drink a 102 IBU, 8 percent ABV brew that is light and crisp, with good body and balance. There’s nothing Stoopid about that.

Hop Stoopid pours with a frothy white head about a finger deep, which slowly dissipates into a nice, creamy lace throughout the session. A crisp golden brown without much sedimentation at first (this increases as the bottle comes to an end) and quite a bit of bubbly carbonation, Hop Stoopid looks like the ideal brew for a mainstream beer ad. I was expecting a touch darker and heavier, but it looks damn good on a hot summer evening, so no complaints.

The aroma is absolutely wonderful … I’d describe it as “candied citrus hops.” That is, it’s as hoppy as you’d expect from a 102 IBU monster, but there’s a fantastic sugary aroma combining with zesty citrus that pleases the nostrils from the crack of the bottle cap until the final drop leaves the glass. Whatever hops are utilized, they have a great citrus profile … not as bitter or piney as can often be the case in a double IPA. A good malt backdrop provides a sweet, brown sugar element to the aroma. Powerful, balanced, dynamic … simply wonderful. I want a candle that smells like this.

The taste doesn’t let up from the high standards set by the aroma. Don’t get me wrong, if you’re not a hop lover, this probably isn’t for you. BUT … you don’t have to be a total Hophead to appreciate it. A noticeable hop bite greets you right off the bat, one that is mainly in the form of citrusy zest (orange peel, grapefruit … even a touch of green apple). While you may expect the next sensation in a double IPA to be a piney bitterness, it’s not. In fact, malt comes to the fore pretty quickly, again in the form of a light sugary backbone (brown sugar and caramel) that quickly tempers the hoppy bite. Balance is the operative word here, somewhat surprising for a hop monster. At no point do the hops overwhelm; just when they get to the point they could take over, you get a perfect rush of citrus fruitiness or sugary malt that brings you back down. While I can’t pinpoint the hop(s) of choice, they are pleasant nonetheless, and Hop Stoopid truly is a beer that even the non-Hophead can enjoy. Medium bodied but remarkably crisp, Hop Stoopid goes down smooth with a moderate aftertaste. At 8 percent ABV and 102 IBU, this is clearly not a session brew, but a bomber is perfect on a relaxed summer evening (and reasonably priced too at around $4).

I’m not a smart man, but I know what hops is. Hop Stoopid is one of the more complex, balanced, and flavorful imperial IPA’s I’ve had in some time … a sure five mugger that has burst onto the scene as a Nigel “instant classic.” While there’s no shortage of fine Northwest IPA’s, this one stands out in my opinion, and is a must try. Pick one up for sure, as you won’t be disappointed; at least not as disappointed as you were the day you found out Forrest Gump was simply a movie character.

Cheers!

Reviewed by Nigel Tanner on August 19, 2009.
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