Blizzard of Hops is the last installment in a series of three seasonal brews by Tröegs this year. Each beer, starting with Cultivator Helles Bock this past spring and then Hop Knife Harvest Ale in the fall, celebrates a different time in the hop cycle. Blizzard of Hops, a winter IPA, represents the close of another successful hop season and the start of another winter.
I wanted to tell you about Blizzard of Hops last week, or maybe even the week before that. I thought it would have been a perfect companion to all the discussion and love (rightfully so) that Sierra Nevada's Celebration Ale was getting on BeerGraphs. I wanted people to head into the Thanksgiving holiday with one more delicious option in mind. I wanted to tell you (yes, you specifically) about how Blizzard of Hops offered something similar to Celebration Ale, something with just a little less in the malt department and a bit more in the tropical fruit department.
Unfortunately, due to what might best be labeled as a Blizzard of Bad Decisions on my part, I was unable to tell you about this winter IPA within the timely manner I originally had in mind. You see, what had happened was, well, okay, it all started with T-Bone and I sitting down to record an episode of the Drinking With Shirt podcast the weekend prior to Thanksgiving. Actually, it started before that, while T-Bone and I were eating our pre-show paninis and drinking a Belgian Tripel that tasted strongly of apples that a friend of a friend had homebrewed.
Actually, before I get into any more details of my poor decisions, I should probably tell you about the hops used to make a beer called Blizzard of Hops. The beer is brewed with Centennial, Chinook, and El Dorado hops. Also, you may find it intriguing that it is dry hopped with Chinook and Galaxy hops.
You're intrigued, admit it.
Now, regarding my decisions that led to my inability to tell you things like “dry hopped with Galaxy hops” in a timely manner, it should be stated that I made no less than 14 incorrect decisions consecutively. Had I just stayed in and gotten a good night's sleep, you would have been reading about Blizzard of Hops last week. (However, then what would you have been reading about right now? This is similar to the paradox that always gets me when I watch Back To The Future. Or really just anytime I actually think about what the the title Back To The Future really means. It is also why it is impossible to talk about the movie 12 Monkeys aloud.)
The homebrewed Belgian Tripel prior to a recording a podcast in which the premise of said podcast is to drink three beers in approximately 40 minutes may have been, if not a poor choice, just a touch frivolous. The plan to drink three full pints of black IPAs that range from 8.3% to 8.9% ABV in 40 minutes, as opposed to splitting a bottle of each between the two of us, now feels like an obviously stupid decision, or perhaps three obviously stupid decisions for those keeping track at home.
Oh hindsight, up yours.
Perhaps only eating a panini prior to such an undertaking is the truly terrible decision at the root of all of this. No, I take that back, I remember the truly terrible decision of the night. It did not involve a panini. It involved a strange, homemade, Pennsylvania coal region, grain alcohol mountain drink called Boilo. I recall happily agreeing to one more round of Boilo. I recall this happening more than once.
Boilo is best served hot and at a place where you can walk home from and where that walk is downhill. A card game involving colored chips also seems to enhance the Boilo experience. Here's a recipe I found online.
My friend Matt makes delicious Boilo. He lives about two blocks from my house. The walk there is uphill. The walk home is downhill. I went to Matt's house after recording the podcast. In my defense, I knew I did not have much left in the proverbial tank, so I only took two beers with me. I was not expecting the Boilo. Or competitive card games. Or a case of Bell's Two Hearted pounders.
We played cards. We drank delicious Boilo. We drank Bell's Two Hearted. We drank more Boilo. I asked my friends questions about their dreams. I yelled at my friends for their responses.
I took one step toward my home and inertia did the rest. Upon arriving home, I realized I did not have my house keys on my person. Most likely I had never taken them with me to begin with, but at this point in the night there current location seemed inconsequenttial. We have a hide-a-key outside our house and I performed the amazing feat of balance necessary to obtain it. Generally, I would not consider bending down and then picking something up an amazing feat of balance, but on this particular night it was a spectacle that belonged in the center ring of a world-class circus. My world was network of tight ropes and I was performing without a net.
Once inside, I spared my sleeping Wife the disaster of my existence and settled in nicely on the downstairs sofa. I cared not for blankets as sleep was immediate and I was still in my winter coat.
Oddly enough, my dreams were filled with evil spreadsheets and uncooperative graphing software. Tired and frustrated by the syntax errors of my dreams, I rolled over and realized I was wide awake and still wearing my winter coat.
I got up and went the laundry/bathroom on our first floor. My plan was to disrobe, starting with the coat and followed by all other items of clothing, as I assumed they did not smell appropriate for the bedroom. I will spare you the details of the specific events that happened in that dark, cold room but I will tell you that multiple things happened and that when I left that room a majority of the openings into my body burned. My body, for about 15 minutes, had become volcanic in all directions.
Typically, the most volcanically active body in our Solar System is a small moon of Jupiter named Io. I like to think that for those 15 minutes I gave Io a run at that title.
Did you know that Saturn's second largest moon is named Rhea?
Naked and glowing like a hot ember, I went into the kitchen to get a glass of water to rinse my mouth as one is apt to do after an eternity of fire vomit. Also, it should be noted that while I was shaken by what I had just transpired, I did feel much better. I find this to be a typical result when evacuating all possible compartments of poison.
And then I swished some water around my mouth. And then I opened my mouth and let the water fall out all over my naked body and to the kitchen floor. This was, I felt, a natrual reaction to what I would categorize as the worst teeth sensitivity expereince in my life. Then I pushed on as many teeth as I could with my fingertips, as if I was holding them in. And then just like that the pain was gone. I thought “that was strange” and considered the probability that something so painful could happen twice. I took another sip of water. The results were exactly the same.
With water all over the floor and my torso glistening, I came to grips with the possibility that all my teeth would fall out by morning. I sought out a towel to clean up the water. I had never experienced tooth pain like that before. It was probably in the top five of most painful experiences in my life - this from a man whose orifices had moments earlier been glory holes to the molten center of the Earth. While on my hands and knees, naked, cleaning up the water I spit out, I searched for positives. My sinuses had been all clogged up that past few days. That no longer seemed to be an issue.
From there I went upstairs and went to bed.
Wife, forever the Patron Saint of stupid husbands, let me sleep until noon. As a reward for her kindness, I took her to Chili's for lunch. That night, my mouth was filled with a traveling throb that went from tooth to tooth. I was nervous and afraid. And regreting the almonds that I had a snack.
The next day, Monday, while washing my face in preparation for what would seem like the longest day in the history of labor, I noticed there was a place on my cheek that if I touched it I could feel it in my tooth. Obviously, I touched that place on my cheek almost continuously for the rest of the day and imagined the end game of this strange face/tooth pressure point would involve either a root canal, an alien bursting out of my face in about 2 days, or a morning next spring where I wake up, yawn, and a butterfly flies out of my mouth.
About halfway through my workday my ears stopped working, signaling to me that my face alien was growing at a rate faster than I anticipated or that my sinuses were swelling up like puffer fish.
That night, while cooking dinner, I decided to crack open a bottle of Blizzard of Hops. Now perhaps it was merely a coincidence or some strange combination of caffeine and cooking spices, but it seemed as if the delicious tropical citrus and pine aroma of the Blizzard of Hops actually opened up my sinuses. I could breath through my nose. I could hear with my ears. It was a winter IPA miracle!
Blizzard of Hops, Tröegs Brewing Company (113 Style+, 2.89 BAR)
Appearance = 3.75/5
Perfectly see-through and golden. Not much head after the pour – just a ring around the edge and a smattering left floating in the middle that looks a lot like the shape of the helmet from the Metroid video game.
Smell = 4.5/5
Bright citrus, tropical fruit, and pine. Just a hint of a crisp cereal smell. The aroma has me excited to drink this beer.
Taste = 4.25/5
Flavors match the aroma but are a touch lighter than what they were in the nose. The citrus rind and pine is prominent but mostly in the finish, allowing the lighter, juicier tropical fruit and citrus to shine through. The flavors are lighter at first, but really good – not just a broad, thick brushstroke of hops. The malt flavors are more prevalent than the appearance let on with that crisp cereal (brewed with pilsner and wheat malts) from the nose showing up to hold it all together. Not much in terms of winter flavors here (which is fine by me), other than the pine builds as it warms, perhaps to the point of catching some juniper notes. I bought another six pack of it the other day. It might be a 4.5 by the time I'm done with that.
Feel = 4/5
On the right side of medium bodied. A more substantial body than the previous beer in the series, Hop Knife, which fits well here. Still a nice mix of slick and biting.
Overall = 4.25/5
This beer definitely is a nice addition to the winter season, giving everyone a different option besides Celebration Ale. The El Dorado and Galaxy hops are a pretty amazing combination.
J.R. Shirt also hosts the Drinking With Shirt podcast. Each episode offers a new round of Beersport, where two beers face off in a Bloodsport style battle. This week's episode features Imperial Black IPAs Dark Penance by Founders and Sublimely Self Righteous by Stone. Firestone Walker's Wookey Jack harrasses both competitors from ring side. Listen here at BeerGraphs or on iTunes. Follow J.R. Shirt on Twitter and Untapped @beeronmyshirt