Welcome to The Daily Beard, everyone! As the polar vortexes swarm the country, staying warm becomes an important part of one’s day. And, there’s only so many layers we can wear before we turn into a collective group of Randy from A Christmas Story. Luckily, we can fall back on beer to wrap a toasty liquid blanket around our shoulders. And today’s beer does that job like a pro. It’s Hoppin’ Frog’s Hop Dam, a massive Triple IPA with an IBU as “High”. Further research reveals it has over 50% more hops than their double IPA – 168 IBU’s – so I’m just gonna guestimate and say something around 200 IBU’s. Basically, this just means this beer is so hoppy, the bitterness should come to life and beat you senseless (hopefully it is a delicious beatdown). Let’s go find out!
Pouring this beer unleashes a cloud of hop pungency that fills the nose from the first moment. Huge notes of fresh pine surge up, mingling with grass clippings and other vegetation, creating a super-hoppy bouquet that shines with juicy freshness. Extra bitterness arrives in the form of grapefruit peel, as well as hints of passion fruit and mangoes, alongside an underlying funkiness of earth – bringing that damp, prickly pine bloom. In addition to the hops, there are some malt vibes that swirl amongst the pine. Sweet, caramel malts add a touch of bread, while a drier, crackery malt flavor adds a touch of crispness that supports the floral spiciness of the hops. It’s a full-bodied aroma that delivers all of its complexity at once. Visually, it pours a deep amber-orange with a fluffy white head that bubbles away somewhat quickly.
The first drink reveals the true nature of the hops, even more than was evident in the aroma. Massive, mouth-filling bitterness arrives on a tide of freshness. Earthy funkiness shows up first, consisting of sharp pine, notes of juniper, and fresh cut vegetation – like the smell of chewed up forest floor. Hints of grapefruit peel and passion fruit arrive at the back of the tongue, adding a touch of sweetness in addition to a massive bitter boost. The same notes of pine and juniper return with a brighter vibe, leaving the damp funk behind. Underneath the hop flavors, a noticeable edge of alcohol rises up, revealing its 10% ABV before slipping back under. Near the end of each drink, mellow malts emerge – both bready malts with caramel sweetness, and dry, crackery malts. They subdue to the hops for the majority of the time, but every now and then you’ll notice a taste of bread crust or caramel sweetness. The aftertaste is a super-bitter cracker vibe, with the bitterness clinging to the tongue long after all other flavors have faded away. Despite all that, the bitterness wasn’t “striking”. Don’t get me wrong, you’ll feel the IBU power, but the bitterness remains enjoyably drinkable, not harsh and unpleasant.
This beer is quite an experience. Huge amounts of hops create an atomic pine tree on the tongue, with small hints of malts and bitter fruits adding flavor notes and complexity. The rest of the beer is pine, with some piney hops, and a dash of hoppy bitterness..and pine. Alcohol oomph brings the warmth, and the entire collection of flavors fills the mouth and hangs out on the tongue long after you’ve finished drinking. It’s a bit pricey, but definitely worth it for a limited release beer.
I recommend this beer during a chilly evening, perhaps when you’ve been drinking nothing but stouts for the past month, and you want some brightness to help you shake off those winter blues. Hoppin’ Frog’s Hop Dam Triple IPA earns itself a pine-scented A-.
Lasting Strength: 10/10
Overall: 9.2/10 A-