Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Fat Head's Brewery & Saloon - Hop JuJu Imperial IPA

 I've been into beer for over three years now, and I've been really fortunate to try some amazing and crazy beers in that time. Most of those beers just happened because I got lucky- I was in the right shop or right bar at the right time. Pretty much every Cantillon I've ever tried can be attributed to that luck. But I don't know that I've ever gotten as lucky as I did this past weekend, and I'd be perfectly content if this is the luckiest I ever get.

Through my friend, Eddie (Eddie strikes again!), I met a guy who was coming down for the release of Churchill's Finest Hour in San Marcos this past weekend. He wanted a few beers that I had, so I talked to him and we started working out a trade. Turns out, this guy is a really big beer trader, and his collection was bedwetting-ly good. Through his generosity, I ended up with 7 Top 250 Beers that I never thought I'd see in my lifetime, along with some other huge non-Top 250 wants. One of these was a beer called Hop JuJu from an Ohio brewery called Fat Head's. This beer won gold at the Great American Beer Festival last year in the Imperial IPA category and has gained a huge following in the Midwest. Let's check it out. At #177, Hop JuJu Imperial IPA. And, Tyler, if you're reading this- You're the greatest.

Hop JuJu Imperial IPA pours a glowing, hazy ochre color with a radiant orange core and a thick, one finger cream colored head. Each sip yields a thick sheet of lace down the glass. This beer is definitely a looker. The smell doesn't blow you away with its intensity, like a lot of hop heavy beers, but it really draws you in with its complexity. Sweet notes of candied grapefruit, pineapple and mango reel you right in, with just a hint of pine and musty hop resin lurking forebodingly in the background.

Similar to the smell, the first thing you taste in here are some of the sweeter elements- bright tropical hop notes with a smooth layer of caramel malt. And right when you get comfortable, the beer sucker punches you with a ton of pine hop resin. It's sticky and dank and it claws across your palate like a cat trying to get out of a grocery bag. But unlike most beers that have this amount of hops (not that there are many), the malt keeps pace the entire way. Every time the bitterness of the hops tries to push you back, the malt cushions the bitterness and never lets the hops gain full control. The pine resin comes through a bit more on the finish, but it really just leaves you wanting a lot more of this beer rather than being a turn off. This beer is really incredible. It's big and intensely hoppy, but the balance is still near perfect. I can definitely see how this walked away with the gold at GABF. It's one of the best Imperial IPAs I've ever had.

Final Grade: A+

Top 250 Beers Tasted:

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