Sometimes, complexity isn’t the name of the game when it comes to selecting a beer. Sometimes, you want a beverage that meets your expectations and satisfies your palate every time. Now, I’m not talking about one-note, one-dimensional drinks here. There are times, however, where a drinker is looking for one facet, one quality, that sings loud and proud. Nowhere is that more visible than in Indian Pale Ale.
Sure, one could make the case that bock beers (part of the lager family) are malt bombs with little else discernable. It’s my belief, however, that hops get more notice in a beer than its malt. Simply put: sugar or spice? Spice gets the press coverage every time. Ginger over Mary Anne. Dennis Rodman or Rick Nash? Lindsay Lohan v.s. Julie Andrews? Well, I know whom I’d pick to win that fight but only for a perverse desire to see a triumphant Maria, ragged breath and pumping adrenaline, standing over the wrecked form of her enemy just before belting out the first strains of “The Sound of Music.”
Don’t judge. Back to topic. So, I’ve chosen IPA over bock for flavorful while still retaining simplistic. Shoot… all this celebrity death match (non-capitalized so certain t.v. networks don’t send in the lawyers) fantasizing has me in the mood for battle. I’m gonna pick two of my favorite “simpler” IPAs and see who comes out victorious. My choices are based on being highly-hopped and flavorful yet not overtly complex.
Terrapin Hopsecutioner, fighting out of the red corner, is cloudy pale gold in appearance while Victory Hop Devil, out of the blue corner, is light amber. Terrapin has a dense head of tiny bubbles where Victory is thick and didn’t want to go away. Round 1 is a draw.
Hopsecutioner’s aroma is, surprisingly, more malt-forward than I had expected yet nice lemony hop notes show through at the end. Hop Devil socks you in the schnozz immediately with traditional grapefruit, pine and grass. The one-two-three combo gives the round to Victory.
Third and final round. Most important, for sake of this review, is taste. Hop Devil comes out swinging with piney, spicy orange rind and lemon hops with a hint of caramel malt showing through. Terrapin answers with fruity and floral hops but doesn’t manage to follow through as well. The hop astringency fades quickly allowing some very nice malt to show through.
I’m giving this bout to Victory. They’re both excellent session ales but Hop Devil has a little something more.