Hey there beer lovers. How do you like your hops? Traditionally, brewers have used in two forms, whole cone or pelletized. Over the years I’ve discussed this with a number of brewers, and the answers you get vary greatly. No brewer has ever told me that pellets are better than whole cone hops when brewing, though some do stress the convenience and lower cost. There are brewers, though, that say they prefer whole cone hops as retaining more natural flavor and aroma. Still more say there is really no difference either way.
Get ready to have your world turned upside down, all you brewers out there, because Sierra Nevada is introducing a third way to brew: distilled hop oil, which they feature in the new Sierra Nevada Hop Hunter IPA. They claim this is the first beer to be brewed via this method. I’ll let them tell you a little about it now, right from the back label of the bottle:
Hop Hunter IPA is the first beer to feature oil from wet hops steam distilled directly in the field, minutes after harvest. We use this pure, powerful hop essence in concert with whole-cone hops in our brew kettle and our Hop Torpedo to create the ultimate IPA experience.
Sierra Nevada Hop Hunter IPA is yet another in a long line of IPAs from Sierra Nevada. But then what brewery doesn’t have 15 of them these days? This one could be called a West Coast IPA, though I don’t like the term. San Diego IPA might be better so I will use that instead.
Sierra Nevada Hop Hunter IPA Has an alcohol content of 6.2% by volume with 60 IBUs. I paid a reasonable $8.99 for a six-pack at Kroger, and my bottle has a packaged on date of 1/16/15 on it. This will be a year-round brew for Sierra Nevada. Ingredients from the website:
Bittering Hops: Magnum, Millennium
Finishing Hops: Cascade, Crystal, Simcoe
Malts: Two-row Pale, Caramel, Flaked Oats
Sierra Nevada Hop Hunter IPA pours to a bright orange color with a very tropical fruity nose of passion fruit and mango and even a little coconut. I get some resin in the nose, too. Taking a sip, the beer is a bit thin in the malt department and the hops quickly grab your tongue, at first with those same fruity flavors the nose promised (although in diminished capacity) but then in the finish a more resinous piney aroma and flavor emerges. A long dry bitter finish lingers around for quite a while after you swallow, and that part I like.
All in all a very tasty beer just bursting with fresh hop aroma and flavor, and at a nice price, too. I would certainly buy it again, though I’ll have to say I would like more malt here and for that reason I’ll give it 4 stars out of 5. Given my druthers, I would take a Sierra Nevada Torpedo Extra IPA over this one.
Update 12/29/2016: Sierra Nevada Hop Hunter IPA on tap at Taco Mac! Still getting a little coconut in the nose, but the tropical fruit hop aromas are less pronounced and the resin and pine a re popping more. A great beer and just $5.50 at that! Great hop burps too.
And remember, try a new beer today, and drink outside the box.
*Pricing data accurate at time of review or latest update. For reference only, based on actual price paid by reviewer.