Tuesday, February 22, 2011

A Hoppy Brewing Trio!

Time for another 3-in-1 review... this time three brews from the Hoppy Brewing Company out of Sacramento, CA.  I picked up three bombers of their brews at Tipple's Brews in Gainesville way back in January, but it turns out 30 new beers goes a decent way!  I had never heard of Hoppy Brewing Co. before... certainly never seen them in Louisiana and I don't ever remember seeing them in Houston either so they made an easy choice as a few to add to the beer run.  

I started off with the Stony Face Red Ale, a5.6% alcohol American amber/red ale that I poured from the 22 oz. bottle into an imperial pint glass.  It's a bubbly deep copper color, no haze at all, with a creamy light head. Not a big head, but good retention and lacing.  Wine has "legs" and beer has the lacing of the head on the sides of the glass to add to that visual effect.

The smell is malty, a little metallic, not much hop presence. Unfortunately there's not a lot going on in the nose.  The taste is even more metallic to me... malt flavor dominates as it should for the style but it's a little rough around the edges. The balance is way off to me... just not very good.

Unfortunately I don't have another one of these on hand to see if this was just a bad bottle... I do have two more from Hoppy Brewing so I guess I'll see if I like them any better.  Not a good start, but we'll see where these CA guys go from here.

My Rating: C-
BeerAdvocate: B  (but the last 5 are all in the C range...)

Up next was the Hoppy Claus Holiday Ale... okay, this one should be better as I'm generally a fan of the Winter Warmer style of beer.  And it might be warm outside now but it was a lot cooler last week when I drank this one!  As usual... poured from a 22 oz. bottle into an imperial pint glass.

This one pours a deep orange color... hazy with a two-finger or so head. It has good retention and lacing. Definitely a good looking beer, but the Stony Face Red Ale looked good but tasted pretty bad. Don't want to get my hopes up yet.  There's not a very strong aroma... what is there is the typical winter warmer spice bouquet. Ginger and nutmeg and a little malt and hops but nothing is too powerful.

Fortunately the flavor is a lot more full... the spices come through, with a hint of floral hops and honey malts. Very good, certainly a step up from the weak aroma.  I really like the creamy thicker mouthfeel... just a hint of bitter aftertaste leaves it a mark or so down. I'd definitely give this beer another try, a very nice winter warmer.  A definite step up from the last beer.

My Rating: A-

Last up in this threesome of brews was the Total Eclipse Black Ale... an American stout with a pretty badass label in my opinion.  Guess what... I poured it from a 22 oz. bottle into a imperial pint glass to drink and review.

It's a dark brown beer, fairly impenetrable with a light brown bubble head. Good retention and lacing. All the Hoppy Brewing beers I've tried have been pretty good looking beers, that's for sure.

The smell is faint of chocolate and roasted malts... a little metallic twinge to it. The taste is a little subdued too... mostly a roasted flavor to it, like charred malts. There is a charred aftertaste and really no hops to speak of. It's alright, but nothing special.

It's kinda thin, not much body to speak of... I'd drink it again, but I wouldn't hunt it down.  
My Rating:  C+

All in all I was left a little disappointed with the Hoppy Brewing Company.  Also a little surprised that they didn't focus more on pale ales with a name like Hoppy!  Still, part of this 365 in 2011 goal was to expand my horizons to new breweries and new styles.  I knew they weren't all going to be my new favorites, but as much as I'll know which breweries and style to seek out when I'm done, I'll know a few to avoid as well!

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