They say that if you stay true to your craft, you will always produce the highest quality products. This is a big reason why craft beer has been so successful: the best brewers are always taking the time to develop unique, well-rounded, and consistently high quality beers. There is nothing slap-dash, gimmicky, or rushed about a well made craft beer; when a brewer cares about the beer they are producing, they always strive for it to be excellently executed. Which brings us to this week’s, Beer of the Week. Slap on your best pair of pink wraparound sunglasses, we’re taking a look at Against the Grain’s Brett the Hipman Hop!
Based out of Louisville, Kentucky, Against the Grain Brewery and Smokehouse makes its home in the southeast corner of Louisville Slugger Field, in a former train station. While BBQ and bourbon are synonymous with Kentucky, the folks at ATG are making sure that you know that beer also belongs in that conversation. Brewing a plethora of beer within the categories of: Hops, Smoke, Dark, Malt, Session, and Whim, these fine Kentucky brewers are sure to have something to please any palate.
Remember what I said about a beer not needing to be flashy to be great? Well Brett the Hipman Hop is a perfect example of what I was talking about. A part of ATG’s All Funked Up series, Hipman is an American India Pale Ale that has been finished with Brettanomyces. While this may sound like just another beer in a long line that have been brewed in this style, let me tell you: it will Russian leg-sweep you off your feet!
Let’s start off with the pour. This light amber beauty has the kind of thick, pillowy head that would get even the most discerning beer geeks amped up. Hipman follows this with an aroma of unripe pineapple giving this beer an understated, yet sufficiently colourful entrance, preparing you for the impeding technical masterpiece.
There is a lot going on with this beer. Before we even begin to discuss tasting notes, let’s unpack it a little. With a mild malt bill at its base, Hipman features a heavy dose of both Vanguard and Apollo hops. Whole leaf Amarillo is later added, after four and a half months, for approximately a week, to add some of its characteristics to the mix. Hipman, as the name suggests, goes through a secondary fermentation process with Brettanomyces. The beer then goes through a third fermentation, as it is bottle conditioned.
In terms of taste, by gawd this might be one of the most balanced and best of its kind. The hop profile imparts a solid punch of citrus pith that is almost sticky and marmalade-like. This is elevated by the Brett, the obvious star of the show, which is sharp yet reserved enough to allow the other flavours to shine. A slight spiciness finishes this tasty concoction off, leaving your palate amazed, refreshed, and ready for more, all at the same time.
While this is the part of the review where I would normally suggest food pairings, I am going to suggest you enjoy this beer on its own. While a nice big hunk of a strong, burly cheese may seem like a natural match, the bottom line is that a tag-team partner would just weigh the Hipman down. Enjoy this beer as it is and discover why, in terms of style; Brett the Hipman Hop is the best there is, the best there was, the best there ever will be.