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Beer Reviews

Hop Juice

Two Brothers Brewing Company
Warrenville, IL

Style: Imperial/Double IPA
ABV: 9.9%

Eddie’s Rating:
one beerone beerone beerone beerone beer   (Recommended)

Pair With:
I find it a little miraculous that Nigel, the Beer Dorks’ resident hophead, hasn’t reviewed this one yet. This is another of Two Brothers immensely interesting artisanal beer series, where Jim and Jason Ebel crank up the creativity and put out limited batch, standout brews. Although it instructs us on the bottle to “get it now, ’cause when it’s gone, it’s gone,” Hop Juice has been in the brothers’ artisanal lineup for several years now.

I pour it into my Schlitz goblet, and it’s looking good: a tawny gold with a hint of ruby. The pour is a bit thick, and so is the head, but I only get about half a finger’s worth. Not bad, but it fizzles into pretty much nothing after a minute or so, and there ain’t much lacing.

The nose is dominated with a capital D by pine and citrus hops. Midway through a bit of warming lets some subdued malt notes to come out, if only a tiny bit, along with fusel alcohols. Not suprising, given that Hop Juice isn’t really pure alpha acid nectar—10 percent of it is alcohol. The sip starts with a medium body and a brisk, almost “hard” mouthfeel. Surprisingly, the dominant element on the palate isn’t hops. It’s malt, and tons of it to balance the 100.1 IBUs. I’ve got to say, though, this isn’t as bitter and hoppy as I remember it from past tastings. Either my palate has changed, my memory is going, or Two Brothers tweaked the recipe. It seems they’re going with more flavor hops than actual bittering this time around, which leads to a more balanced approach. Although balance is usually inherently good, it isn’t necessarily welcome in this particular style—no one’s grabbing an imperial IPA for its rich malt character. Sure, it keeps the bitterness from making drinkers’ heads explode, but other than that there isn’t really an upside. The hops are there, of course—this still is, as the promo copy proclaims, for hopheads only—with lots of resiny and orange-like citrus character. Combined with the heavy malt sweetness, it for some reason reminds me vaguely of marmalade. No it’s not you: I am weird.

All in all a decent entry, but not really up to snuff to stand out in the crowded imperial IPA category—or in Two Brothers’ own artisanal series. Still, recommended, just not highly so.

Reviewed by Eddie Glick on May 6, 2008.
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