Sometimes a beer is no longer ‘just a beer’. Sometimes a beer is something far more than a base definition of fermented hops/water/barley malt. Sometimes, a beer has to go beyond. And sometimes its sole purpose is to question itself. And perhaps wreck your face in the process with a hopshot.
BrewDog are no strangers to high ABV beers. From questionable antics in penguin suits to accompany ‘Tactical Nuclear Penguin‘ to the ball-breaking ‘Sink the Bismarck‘, to the lesser known ‘Watt-Dickie‘ & even the more barmy PETA-raging ‘End of History‘, Ellonites know a thing or two about ice-distallate beers, or ‘eisbocks‘.
And so we come to the newest incarnation, ‘HopShot‘; a quadruple IPA from their ice-distallate skunkworks (if that’s really a thing – if not, it should be). While considerably less potent than the aforementioned at a not-so-insignificant 22%, & coming in a bottle closer in volume to Watt-Dickie at 100ml, this beer has a single purpose; to tear your face off, wipe its ass with it & then feed it to you. And expect a tip for the pleasure.
Unlike Tactical Nuclear Penguin or Watt Dickie, HopShot is carbonated. And when you pop the top, it is literally like opening a giant fresh sack of simcoe hop pellets. That big piney, citrus aroma rushes out to start the warnings like an air raid siren.
Into the glass, it’s a Lamborghini burnt orange colour & thick. It’s not syrup thick, or even Tokyo* thick, but it’s very noticeable compared to say Hardcore IPA, or Stone’s Double Bastard. If you’re a curious soul, & you keep your nose in the glass long enough, it’s a sensory overload that I’ve put akin to being one of those silly buggers who jams their head into the hophash/dust remnants in the bottom of a super fresh bag of simcoe. It’s enough to leave you looking like the Red Skull.
On the intiital taste, it’s like a fight bell being rung, & an opening punch connecting on the chin, lifting you clean off your feet straight onto your back. The bitterness level here is intense. It makes ‘Sink the Bismarck’ feel like you’ve had a carton of kid’s lunchbox juice. There is no sweetness here. It’s a raging citrus bitter melody that would not feel out of place in a Richard Ashcroft song.
I actually had to take a second mouthful to try even understand what the flavour was doing on the rest of my palette. It’s dry in the middle of he palette. It’s not Moses’ sandal dry, but it does have a nice toffee-ness to it that gives way to a alcohol burn that’s loaded with a hail of lemon drop bullets to get you past it.
It’s hard to tell if the purpose of this beer was either to see what happens when you take the current wave of popular west-coast IPA styles into this ‘eisbock’ scenario as a ‘hey, what if?’ or if this was purely as a means to introduce newer fans of the brewery to the ‘zanyness’ of BrewDog for those who missed Watt Dickie, or those who just cannot afford a bottle of TNP or STB.
To be fair, at approximately ten of your euro monopoly monies for 100ml, it’s not bad. Watt Dickie (35%) was around six of the funny monies for 60ml. And, to compare TNP (at 32% ABV) which for 375ml is fifty five MerkelPuntz, & STB being eighty of your MerkelPuntz for the same bottle (even though it’s 41%) HopShot is a good deal.
Now, I’ve seen some people say ‘oh it’s good for sharing between two people’. To that, I say bollocks. HopShot is a fun, interesting, sensory overload solo experience. And it’s cheap enough that even the most ardent Scottish penny picker.