One of the great things about drinking a lot of craft beer is that it's pretty much impossible to run out of new things to try. Brewers are constantly experimenting with new styles, barrel aging programs, and even new hop varieties. Recently, a new hop variety was created by Select Botanicals Group called HBC (Hop Breeding Company) 342. While a more catchy name has yet to be announced, this new hop has already caught the attention of a few breweries, including one of my favorites, Alpine. Their new IPA, Melonhead (referring to the "melon-like" characteristic of HBC 342), is the newest addition to their lineup and I was able to find it on tap at O'Brien's.
Melonhead IPA pours a clear, golden color with a very thin white head. The aroma had a good amount of citrus hops along with some grapefruit, a touch of pine, hop resin, hints of watermelon, and a sort of musty smell that I can only describe as horse feed. Luckily the musty smell was masked well by the other elements.
The flavor opens with some grapefruit and a slightly chalky citrus hop bite. A touch of bready malt is present briefly before a sweet and drawn out caramel finish takes over. I was hoping to pick up some of the watermelon that I had smelled but it never really showed. At 6.75% ABV, this is significantly lighter than most of Alpine's other IPAs and the taste is significantly more mild. But it's still a refreshing and very tasty IPA and one that I hope they continue to brew. I doubt that this will ever be bottled, but keep an eye out for it on tap around San Diego.
Final Grade: B
Top 100 Beers Tasted: 34