Hop Henge (2012)

Hop HengeI popped open and enjoyed a bottle of Hop Henge from Deschutes Brewery this evening, and rather than write a full review I thought I’d just jot down some thoughts. This is Deschutes’ “Experimental” IPA which masquerades as an Imperial IPA; at 8.5% alcohol by volume and 95 IBUs, this certainly qualifies in the “Imperial” department—the “Experimental” comes from the various techniques Deschutes has experimented with over the years to get more hops into this beer.

This is the bottle that Deschutes sent me at the very end of last year. I had opened a bottle (that I’d purchased) on New Year’s Eve and my impressions then are largely the same now: a bit of a damp cannabis quality to the aroma (“dank”), along with a sweet and green quality with a slight cattiness that seems to be Deschutes’ hop signature these last few years.

Hop Henge is a super-drinkable beer, with a creamy, soft and pillowy malt base infused with hops—not just bitterness, but the herbal, floral, spicy character that really highlights the hoppiness without ever being harsh. Deschutes handles hops better than almost any brewery out there: they know how to bring out the character of the hops without reverting to the scalding bitterness, or cotton-candy-over-hoppiness, that I find a lot of less-than-deft Imperial IPAs to possess.

And yet there is a hop burn, and a sweet sticky body, and all the hallmarks that hopheads seeking out the next Imperial IPA are looking for. It’s terrific. Don’t miss out.