18 January 2018

Further Hoopla

It looks like the Dutch brewery with a sister in Dublin, Hoop, has been busy. The beer was much more widely available on my last trip to the Netherlands than it had been earlier in 2017. And there are new ones! I bought a four-pack in upmarket grocer Marqt.

First up is Bleke Nelis, a pale ale. It took a while to pour, with far too much froth forming. It settled to a medium orange-amber, eventually; mostly clear with just a few skeins of yeast hanging under the head. The aroma is modern and tropical, with concentrated pineapple juice and lighter, fresher, mango. The flavour suffers a little from the suspended yeast, introducing a gritty note to an otherwise bright and fruity beer, though there's also a fun spark of spice, which may also be the yeast's doing. It's pleasantly light bodied, and although a candy malt sweetness begins to appear as it warms, the hops are very much in the driving seat. Overall a very good example of an American pale ale, performed cleanly and competently.

The next beer caught my eye because it's part of Hoop's Limited Edition series. And it's a 5% ABV Oatmeal IPA. And Hope also has a Limited Edition series, which also included a 5% ABV oatmeal IPA, almost a year ago. Could it be a re-run of the same recipe? 8 EBC, 40 EBU, Munich malt, Carapils, Simcoe and Citra: the label on my bottle and the description on Hope's website match. The appearance is broadly similar: a hazy pale orange. The aroma is sharply citric but the flavour is softer than I was expecting. Not tropical like the pale ale, but a gentle orange and lemon buzz. This bitterness is tempered by a buoyant malt body which still leaves the hops plenty of room to sing. The only interference is the fizz, for though the beer didn't gush this time, the mouthfeel is unpleasantly jagged. Otherwise it's another good and clean hop-forward beer. Where do they go from here?

A more regular IPA, I'm guessing, is Kaper. The ABV is up to 6.4% and it's all gone weirdly herbal. I get a densely bitter black liquorice on sniffing, and then a heavy oily sweetness in the flavour, with overtones of bitter herbs. It's harder and harsher, by turns plasticky, vegetal and resinous: hops as our grandpappies drank them. I found it a bit of a chore overall, much preferring the zing I got from the previous two.

A total change of tack for the finisher: Oude Heyt, an old ale at 9% ABV. It's paler than I had been expecting: a muddy brown and headless. It smells like a chemical soup, all sweet acetone and esters, giving it an air of rotten fruit. The flavour is calmer, leaning more to the toffee side, with a cherry jam sweetness and some very ripe banana. After a moment the booze buzz sparks off and by the finish the flavour is subsumed into a raging alcohol burn. "Old ale" carries a sense of rich dark beer, its edges smoothed by time. This just tastes like a poor attempt at quadrupel.

Light and hoppy seems to be where Hoop is currently excelling. Perhaps they need to borrow one of Hope's stout recipes next.