December is an important month here at Hopjacks for a number of reasons. Let’s find a beer that fits all of the occasions.
It’s been almost eight years to the day when I was officially hired by the company. My “audition” was easy. I met owner Joe Abston who appeared to be multi-tasking about ninety things at once; a trend that has never changed. I looked over the sample menu, we talked about our perceptions of food and then we toured the downstairs which was still under renovation. He grabbed the beer menu and gave me a scenario.
“Pretend I’m out on a date, I like beer but my girlfriend doesn’t. Sell me two beers.” After I gave my sales pitch he asked me where I worked, so I told him. “Not anymore, you don’t.” We shook hands and the rest is history.
December is also when we start seeing a lot of great winter seasonal beers showing up. Crafted to counter the cold temperatures, these are usually big, bold, spicy and warming offerings. Summer can keep its light and crisp beer; I pine for something rich and expressive.
Oh, and our Hopjacks up on 9-Mile Road turns four years old this Saturday! It seems like very little time has passed since we toured that abandoned sports bar up north. It took a hot minute but it’s now established itself as the place to go in the greater Ensley/Cantonment/UWF area. We’re all very proud of the staff up there. We’ll be celebrating this weekend with drink specials, a DJ and piles of brewery merchandise to hand out.
And it’s Christmas this month; arguably the most important celebration of the year. Now, about that beer that ties it all together. It’s been three years so I thought we’d re-visit Sierra Nevada’s Celebration Ale.
Actually one of their earliest recipes from way back in 1981, Celebration is a freshly-hopped ale, meaning that non-dried, whole-cone hops are used directly after being picked; same thing as wet-hop ale, just as long as the hops are put to use in less than 24 hours of being collected off of the bines. The hop oils are at their brightest acidity and impart intense flavor to their beer.
Celebration’s color changes with the light, going from copper to reddish-orange. An immense head of froth leaves lacing all down the inside of the glass; an indication of the sticky hop oil to come. Juicy scents of grapefruit collide with flowers and apricot plus a hint of spruce. Crafted to honor the hops – not dominate with – it starts out malt-forward to balance out the bitterness without hindering the flavor. Caramel and biscuit lead the flavor pack with citrus peel, black tea and a touch of honey following.
Sierra Nevada has given us one more thing to celebrate in December. See you at the party!