What can I say? I am a sucker for a mixer pack. They allow me to usually get a nice variety of beers, and this offering is no different. The only thing that would make a mixer pack better is if it features beers that I like. As I’ve mentioned several times over, I’m a fan of the hoppier beers. The Phillips hop box is a celebration of the flower of that lil rhyzome , Humulus Lupulus (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Humulus_lupulus) Phillips has released their hop box for at couple of years now. Its labelled as a “specifically designed long range hop transport case. It ensures the hops, liquified in an amorphous non-crystalizing, yet refreshing barley matrix, are delivered safely to you, the deserving IPA lover. While the hopbox is purpose built for rapid deployment of the Hopcircle IPA, Skookum Cascadian Brown and The Krypton RyePA, The hopbox also welcomes random hoppy passengers, check the window seat for this box’s guest. Turn On, Tune In, Hop Out!”
The other great thing about mixer packs, especially with the leapbeer journey, is that I get to share them with others. My friend & co-worker Frank has been a regular leapbeer reader and supporter helping me grab new beers. He’s bought me beers for the blog and I have shared back with him. So I split a set from this mixer off for him to sample and get his notes. He and I have similar taste preferences, so I knew he’d be down to sample this hoppy lot. In fact, he is a regular consumer of one of them, the Hop Circle IPA.
Without further adieu, here is the HopBox
Breaking in to the HopBox you see the 3 rows of beer here, The Hop Circle IPA, The Skookum Cascadian Brown Ale, The Krypton Rye PA, and The GrowHop Series – Cascade IPA. The last is their guest beer for this run.
Here’s the set of them
Even though I’d previously enjoyed Hop Circle IPA on the leapbeer blog, it was before I’d started posting my thoughts about the beers. I thought it only fair that I start with this one. It is their year round IPA offering, and here are our tasting notes.
Leapbeer: You really get a smells bitter from the hops, like its pinching my nose closed. It is almost piney. There is a nice latent hop bite in the tasting but it lingers. Initially it tastes overwhelmingly malty, but then hops come in and balance it out. Nice blend and good for a all year round available IPA from the island.
Frank: Sweeter maltier upfront with a not so bitter but aromatic hop finish. [comment edited: as this was the last beer that Frank drank he had some comments about preference, which I’ll reveal later]
Leapbeer #9 Hop Circle IPA
Next we’ll look at the Skookum Cascadian Brown Ale. Phillips describes this beer as “Skookum [skookuh m] (adjective) from Chinook, West Coast North America 1. A monster indigenous to the Cascade region. 2. Strong, reliable, and/or hard-working 3. Big, bold hop characteristics with a smooth, rich maltiness 4. The unofficial fuel of the Cascadian revolution.” (via http://phillipsbeer.com/Beers/skookum-cascadian-brown-ale)
Here’s our notes on this beer.
Frank: Toasty brown ale with a complex sweetness. I think I taste maple. There is a musky dark chocolate aroma to the beer which becomes more apparent when the beer is warmer, around 8c. Crisp hoppy finish. A very pleasant beer.
Leapbeer: This brown beer is hop infused rocket fuel. It smells very hoppy. Initially it tastes mildly malty. You get a bitter chocolate flavour to it, and then a hopped up finish at the end. There’s a strangeness to this beer for me, it is both very tasty and somewhat understated. It is like the loudest trumpet blast with the muffler in it. A very strange dichotomoy of a brew.
Leapbeer #174 Skookum Cascadian Brown Ale
Next we’re moving on to the Krypton Rye Pale Ale. The Phillips site tells us that their Krypton Rye PA is available in this HopBox, and in the occasional growler fill. They also describe it thusly “Better tasting than a speeding bullet, Krypton will be hard not to drink in a single gulp. Spicy rye malt and big citrus hop flavours make Krypton the perfect refreshment in your fortress of solitude.” (http://phillipsbeer.com/Beers/krypton-ryepa)
Leapbeer: This beer smells great. There is a blend of grainy rye, and citric hops scents. You can see the grain similar to how it would smell and taste in Rye Whiskey. You also get a bit of yeasty smell from it. It is a cloudy golden beer, with a fair amount of sediment broken up in it. It pours to a frothy white head with good head retention. But it seems like the carbonation is low. It is super easy drinking. You get the rye malt flavour with a big hop punch. There’s a sweet note to it that I can’t quite place. I’m surprised to say that I find this beer remarkably good. I say that because last year when I first had this beer (also from a hopbox) I didn’t like it. I don’t know why I had that opinion last year. Whether it was my palate that changed, or a tweak on the brew, now I have to say it is fantastic.
Frank: Grapefruit & slightly malty with an emulsion feel to the beer. The hop finish is crisp and light with a pleasant bitterness that lingers and a subtle bitter grapefruit (very mild) aroma. Splendid.
Leapbeer #175 Krypton Rye PA
Lastly we move to the guest beer in the HopBox. Phillips GrowHop series of beers each use a single strain of hops in their brews. This latest one uses the ‘hops du jour’ cascade. It is a pacific northwest grown hops (not solely grown in the pnw region) that is used alot for its citrus like bitterness. Previous incarnations of their GrowHop series have featured Amarillo and Centennial hops strains, among others.
Here’s our notes on the brew.
Frank: Light Citrus, Floral, Melon scent up front with nice balanced sweetness. Delicious Dry Bitter finish on the back of the mouth. Hoppy Perfume lingers for a while after swallowing. I was going to have some food with this but I didn’t want to spoil it.
Leapbeer: I’ve in the past accused beers of one hop variety of being too one note. As I’m learning more about hops, I see the various ways it can affect beer. Being the popular hops,cascade, I’m curious how it will be. This beer smells fantastic, both smooth & citric hoppy. It has a nice balance between the tastes of sweet and bitter. It isn’t overly bitter. Definitely a good balance to this beer, showing the brewers restraint with the hops. It is silky and smooth, leaving a very velvety mouthfeel. It pours with a fluffy head. An absolutely delicious beer. Super easy drinking. Amazing for a single hop variety beer.
Leapbeer #176 GrowHop Series – Cascadian IPA
I think it is easy to say that this last beer, the Cascade IPA, was both of our favorites. The note I deleted from Franks Hop Circle IPA notes was “Oh No, I prefer the Krypton”. To clarify, he drank them 2 one night and 2 the other, with the Hop Circle IPA being the last one he had. He also berated me the day after drinking them for high grading his palate. His old standby ranked low in this tasting. Sorry Frank.
I also want to apologize for some of the quality of my pictures. I’ll try to do better in the future.
Phillips has even more in store for us hop heads. This year they are having their 2nd annual HOPoxia – festival of hops. There will be 15 breweries gathered in the Phillips lot on July 21st with several special casks and regular beers for drinking. Tickets can be acquired at this site for $15 per person (which includes 2 drink tickets, $1.50 for each additional drink ticket) http://www.phillipsbeer.bigcartel.com/ The list of Brewers that will be there is at that link as well.
I’ve got my tickets, and the plans in place to be there. It should be a hoot.
A special thanks to Frank for his notes and tasting expertise. Also a thank you to Welder weasel, Kevin for the Hops, and Phillips Brewing Company for the tasty beers.
I thank you for reading and hope you have a happy and hoppy day