Bend Brewing Company is Central Oregon’s second-oldest brewery (after Deschutes)—though technically they are a brewpub, only brewing and serving on-premise and not (usually) bottling their beer for sale.
Established in 1995, the brewpub developed a loyal following among the locals, and when Brewmaster Tonya Cornett took over brewing duties in 2002, the awards followed: a gold medal at 2006′s Great American Beer Festival for HopHead Imperial IPA, which won the bronze again in 2008.
(There have been plenty of other awards, but this is a review of HopHead, after all.)
Every now and again, when they brew the HopHead, they will also do a limited bottling run, like they did last November; I was able to pick a few bottles up. At 8.8% alcohol by volume, it’s right in the range for the (so-called) American Imperial IPA style, but there’s definitely a reason this is a GABF medal winner.
Appearance: Lighter in color than I’d expect—a gold color, very slightly hazy. Thick, dense white head piled up.
Smell: Full of hops—bright and twiggy and citrus notes, just like opening a bag of fresh hops from the brew shop. Very pretty on the nose. There’s a sweet caramelly note of malt.
Taste: Hoppy and juicy—that’s the best first impression I can give. Crisp, bracing bite of wheat and biscuit grains; and then the hops shine through again, bright and green. It’s really well-balanced and tasty.
Mouthfeel: Medium-bodied, but lighter than expected. Has a soft, mellow feel to it—balanced well and super drinkable.
Overall: Superb. Definitely an award-winner.