There is a sort of shameless lack of sophistication in the labels from New Albanian, and I am in love with it. The label for Hoptimus shows a bunch of gears and an odd-looking robot in a sort of dictator victory pose. It’s almost laughable in tone, and I sincerely hope that’s what they meant. It’s not so much careless as it is deliberately schlocky.
On the side of the label, though, is the following warning:
Living vicariously through others is a sad compromise meant only for rank amateurs and subpar international lagers. Rather, we all might profit from the principled example of Hoptimus, which lives vivaciously, audaciously and capriciously through itself. With a snarky hop character that is blatantly unrepentant, Hoptimus ensures that meek palates surely will not inherit the earth.
With an IBU (International Bittering Units) score of 100, and a pitch like that, I was expecting the beer to taste almost like pure hops. I’ve had a few beers like that, and I do enjoy them, but this was not that.
The nose was very hoppy, as expected, and the color was a beautiful copper with extremely thin lacing that liked to hang around.
It was a surprise when the first sip crossed my tongue. I was expecting my cheeks to touch with the bitterness of the hops (“four additions of Nugget, one late addition of Cascade, dry-hopped with Cascade”), but instead I was astonished at how malty it tasted on the front and across the middle of my tongue. It’s warm and biscuity.
And then, BOOM.
It’s not the hoppiest beer ever, but the hop flavor is insistent and actually becomes a mouth-coating sensation. (Anti-hoppers, stay away. Hopheads, enjoy the variety!)
By the third or fourth ounce, the malty flavor was getting harder to spot. Instead, the hops were prevalent enough to bully other flavors into the background.
This beer begs for a curried chicken dish or a particularly peppery steak (there is the slightest hint of cherry flavor in this beer that I think would pair well with beef).
Ultimately, this is a beer that I am very glad I have tried, although I don’t know for certain if I will go out of my way to get it again. It’s a perfect impulse-buy beer.