Monday, December 15, 2008

Hops & Hippos

Another new brew from River Horse.

Hop-a-lot-amus, an American double IPA, rolled out earlier this month as a draft-only beer, the fifth new offering from the crew in Lambertville.

We jetted up to the brewery in southern Hunterdon County on Monday for a sample.

We don’t review beers – too many people out there already do that, and like Lou Reed sang, “Does anybody need another (fill in the blank)?” – but here are some quick observations:

  • Dense, creamy head, citrusy hop taste, piney hop flavors in the finish, with some malt flavor occupying space in the middle.
  • Not a lot of hop in the nose, and the folks at the brewery say they’ll shoot for some more aromatic when they follow up this initial 30-barrel run.
Still though, the story here is a big, rich American IPA. So if you’re a fan of hop bombs, as this historically British style has become defined these days in the US, you’ll find something here to enjoy.

By the way, the hops are Perle, Cluster and Cascade as a finish, and the ABV comes in just south of 8%. A couple pints into this brew, you’ll feel the alcohol, but along the way, you really won’t taste it. The warmth hides behind all those hops.

River Horse is on a roll these days. Hop-a-lot-amus (credit co-owner Glenn Bernabeo for the name) comes amid the brewery’s well-received hybrid oatmeal milk stout (released as the third offering in the RH brewer's reserve six-pack series around Thanksgiving), and ditto for draft-only Dunkel Fester, which got snapped up fast early last fall to the brewery’s pleasant surprise.

And all of that came on the heels of a wildly successful Belgian Double Wit, the first new brew in ages from River Horse, which was more or less backpedaling, withering even, until Glenn and Chris Walsh bought the brewery and, you can pretty much say, rescued the place from closing.

By the by, as we noted in a previous post, the Wit, along with RH’s Imperial Cherry Amber, took home gold medals from World Beer Championship competition. (Despite the award and respectable enough sales, the cherry amber, because of some logistics in dealing with the fruit, will get a hard look before the brewery decides whether to reprise it.)

Speaking of awards, Dunkel Fester and RH Lager, tweaked this year into a reliable kellerbier, recently won silver medals from WBC. Like we said, River Horse is on a roll.

NOTE: If you’re a fan of the Double Belgian Wit (7% ABV), it’s coming back as part of RH’s regular flight of brews, available in six-packs at the brewery in a couple of weeks. It will be on store shelves at the start of March.

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