beer column

these are my notes from yesterday's on the coast beer column wherein i made stephen quinn taste hop elixir (i am so very cruel to him):
This is "Hop Drop", a hop elixir/hop liqueur made by Phillips Brewing in Victoria.  They made it to go along with their 13th anniversary brew, called 13 Knots in a Hangmans Noose.  The beer is an 11.9% imperial ipa, which if you add the 29% elixir to it, bumps up to a 13% even hoppier beer.

“Hop drop is an artisanal hop liqueur crafted to celebrate the hop flavours that we covet in our beer.  We distilled real hops into an incredibly potent hop elixir, where explosions of fresh pine and bright bitterness are balanced in a blanket of soft sweetness.  Its depth of flavour is robust enough to enjoy on its own poured gently over ice, or it can be ‘dropped’ into another beer to instantly raise the ABV and infuse bright hoppy flavour.” 

The elixir will eventually be available on its own from Phillips’ new Fermentorium on a year-round basis and is just downright delicious. They weren't lying when they said you get pine explosions blanketed in sweetness.  And yes, it is potent.  Half of the bottle, or .75 of an ounce near about knocked me on my derriere.

I am not nearly so fond of the anniversary beer itself.  I find it too much of a hop slap to the mouth.  I definitely prefer my ipas on the unbalanced side, but find this one goes too far from balance for me.  And then dropping the liqueur in takes it even further over the top.

Is this elixir a gimmick?

I’m not sure whether or not anyone else will jump on the elixir bandwagon, but putting hop oil in beers is something beer geeks have been doing for years.  I know people who pick up hop oil from the homebrew shop and take it with them to places like stadiums where you can only get macro lagers, and put a few drops into those to make them hoppier and more palatable.  Like the infuser idea, branding a product makes it appear to be more of a gimmick, but the idea behind it has been around for ages.  Experimenting with beer is fun.  Lots of people do it via brewing their own beer - for everyone else there are infusers and hop elixirs.

Phillips' Fermentorium will be making more than just the Hop Drop.  It will be interesting to see if they just move on to distilled beverages like vodka and gin, or if they have more interesting liqueurs, or other boozey options to drop into beer, up their sleeves.
Beer picks:

Let’s go with golden ales this week, an oft-overlooked style.

Dead Frog’s Big Stump spruce golden ale is available at the liquor store in 650 ml bottles

Persephone goddess golden ale is available in six pack cans from the liquor store

Barkerville prospector’s peril blonde ale is available at Brewery Creek and the Granville and 11th liquor stores, and on tap around town, including St. Augustine’s.


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