Reviews, Commentary and Opinions on Midwest Craft Beer and Microbreweries


Beer Reviews

Hop Hearty Ale

New Glarus Brewing Company
New Glarus, WI

Style: India Pale Ale (IPA)
ABV: 6.2%

Nigel’s Rating:
one beerone beerone beerone beerone beer   (Outstanding within its style.)

Nigel would like to begin this review by taking you all on a trip back through time. Picture the year 2002 (maybe early 2003, but whatever). Young Nigel is but a wee college lad, and the occasional night out with the chaps (read: four times a week--Nigel went to a public state university where heavy drinking was required) mainly consisted of indulging in rum and Coke and cheap beer. Nigel’s beer I.Q. was essentially nil, and his fridge was stocked with Miller Lite, Icehouse (still a guilty pleasure), and, though I’m embarrassed to admit to it now, the “good” beer--Heineken. Ugh, I feel dirty just saying it. Anywho, at some point during this period Nigel and his Sugar Mama visited a strange land where he met up with a certain Eddie Glick (as well as a certain Jill Jarawhothewhatnow and a certain Baby-Boy Jackson), and saw a tap shaped like a goose, dispensing a beer called “Honkers Ale.” How fun, Nigel thought, so Nigel tried, and Nigel liked. His first foray into craft brewing was met with much celebration. Upon returning to his homeland, Nigel discovered that this Goose Island Brewery actually distributed in his area, and there was a nice green bottle next to the red Honkers Ale bottle that called itself “IPA.” Nigel had not yet had his hop cherry popped, so he had no idea what those letters stood for. Nigel tried this Goose Island IPA, and Nigel liked. Nigel really liked. A few weeks later, Nigel noticed that New Glarus Brewing had a beer that was also called “IPA” (how can different breweries have the same names for their beer--duh, young Nigel!), so Nigel, remembering his euphoric experience with the Goose Island version of this IPA, tried it. Nigel really, REALLY liked. Fast forward to present. Nigel is a bonafide hophead, and his obsession with hops was shaped in large part during his early craft brew days drinking many a bottle of New Glarus Hop Hearty Ale.

Ah, memories. While I continue to lobby the Catholic Church to include this story into the biblical canon (Nigel 3:16—“and God so gave his only son an IPA, and Jesus proclaimed: ‘Bitter is Better’”), tonight I reminisce with a bottle of New Glarus IPA. I now hereby offer you all my official Beer Dorks review of … (sob) … one of the best beers I’ve … (sob) … ever had, a beer that … (sob) … help mold me into the Beer Dork I am today.

Hop Hearty Ale has one characteristic that differs from many craft IPAs--damn, this beer has head! It pours a thick foamy head, and though it mostly dissipates quickly, there is a fair amount that lingers throughout. The color is typical--dark amber, with some bubbles tingling the side of the glass. The aroma is fantastic--one of the best smelling IPAs I’ve ever had. Hoppy goodness comes through in full force, tempered by a caramel malt smell and citrus undertones. The flavor reflects that. It’s got a good amount of hops, making it nice and bitter, but it’s by no means the hoppiest IPA you’ll ever have. It’s one of the more balanced examples of the style out there, with the bitterness mixed with smooth dark caramel flavor and a good amount of light fruitiness, making for a somewhat mild beer (though still definitely not a brew for those who dislike the bitterness that a heavily hopped beer provides). It’s clear why this beer would help develop a novice Beer Dork into a connoisseur of hops. It tastes great, but doesn’t blow your mind like any double IPA would or like the regular IPA offerings that the Nigel of today so enjoys--Founders, Stone, Three Floyds, Tyranena, etc. While there are certainly some craft IPAs out there that top New Glarus’ offering, Nigel will always rave about the overall quality of Hop Hearty Ale. Now, if Nigel could learn to stop referring to Nigel in the third person, all would be right with the world. Cheers!

Reviewed by Nigel Tanner on January 16, 2007.
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