Sunday, January 4, 2009

BridgePort Hop Czar

I'm watching the Eagles/Vikings game, it's just after the Vikings went up 7-6. I decided to pop a sample: BridgePort Hop Czar, an imperial IPA at 8%. (And in the time it took me to get that picture and crop it, the Eagles are now up 9-7. Sweating it out.)

Anyway, BridgePort sent me this sample (along with the Raven Mad Porter I wrote about a few days ago) -- whoa, interception, Eagles up 16-7! -- and I've been looking forward to it. So I poured some for Cathy, and some for me, and I'm drinking it. Hey, it looks great! Cloudy-sticky, incredibly long-lasting creamy white head, fine carbonation, and wacky strong grapefruit and pine aromas.

The hops are ringing my chimes, seeming to change with every sip, there are so many flavors here I'm only picking up bits and pieces as I go. We're told Hop Czar is "triple hopped," more than BridgePort usually uses, and I'm feeling it. Hop Czar is also damned bitter, clinging bitter, ripping bitter. But the malt's there to beef it up and sweeten it up, balancing that bitter. There's also some substantial fruitiness that keeps it all interesting. (Peterson does it again, 16-14, Philly still hanging on at the end of the first half.)

That's the good stuff, beerwise. It's good, it's bitter, it's hoppy, but it's missing the liveliness, the verve of something like the Blind Pig I had on New Year's Eve. The Hop Czar goes for the straight-up slam, a bit blunt, and I'm not nuts about that...except that's just not all there is to the Czar.

Look, I've made fun of Bob Klein's beer reviews in which the beers seem to change flavor in mid-sip. But I keep getting different impressions, every time I lift the glass. Sweet, blunt, fruity, pine, bitter, solid...a protean IIPA? Or is it just that there's so much going on it's hard to get it all at once. I'd still like to see more of that liveliness...but that's not the only kind of beer. I can get into the bludgeoning, too. Thumbs-up for the Czar. (Halftime, by the way, and I'm feeling like a Philly are they going to figure out how to lose this one? (Whoa, holy crap, Westbrook breaks loose for a big one: we win! This is getting weird...))

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