Hop Henge (2008)

Hop Henge Imperial IPAThis month the latest Deschutes Brewery seasonal was released, and I received a package on my doorstep containing a bottle of it: Hop Henge. This year’s batch is sporting a new recipe and a new style designation: Imperial IPA.

Head Brewer Brett Porter says, “This is a truly exciting and groundbreaking beer. We reformulated everything about the hop recipe to give Hop Henge an extraordinary aroma and flavor similar to a fresh hop beer.” In addition to the Cascade and Centennial hops, Deschutes Brewery is experimenting with a hop variety so new that it has yet to be named.

At 8.75% alcohol by volume—and offered up in the Bond Street Series of 22-ounce bomber bottles—this beer is nothing to sneeze at.

Appearance: Deep orange-copper in color, like a dark, clear honey. Dense, substantial two fingers of head piled up on top—and leaves a substantial lacing behind.

Smell: Bright, green, powdery hops, almost juicy in the nose. There are hints of a solid, malty backbone, but the hops dominate.

Taste: Strong, hoppy, bitter, resiny, a bit piney and green on the tongue. The hops permeate the malt, giving the impression of a sticky, almost syrupy hop extract. At the same time it’s a rich, slightly roasty, slightly sweet malt base with a touch of the alcohol heat seeping through. A hint of oaky, woody character.

Mouthfeel: Bright, lively, rich and nearly full-bodied. A lingering, pungent hop presence in the aftertaste.

Overall: Excellent, excellent, excellent. Juicy and hoppy and tasty and bright. It doesn’t go all scorched earth with the hopping, though—instead, this comes across as really well balanced despite the big hops.

On BeerAdvocate, there’s a bit of a problem: there are two entries for Hop Henge: one “India Pale Ale” (the original) and one “Imperial IPA” which is marked as retired… however, both have current reviews in them. The first has a grade of A-, while the second has a B+.

On RateBeer there’s a similar situation though they correctly have the Imperial IPA version as the current and active one: it scores 3.67 out of 5 and is in their 92nd percentile.