Beer On My Shirt: Is It Fresh Hop Season? And Other Random Thoughts While Drinking a Hop Knife

J. R. Shirt, August 27, 2014

The other day I went to a barber rather than my regular hair cutting person. It was not that I was unsatisfied with my normal hair cutting person, it was just that she was booked up and I needed a haircut in the worst way.

I looked like an animal. Or a mountain man. I should have taken a picture of myself holding a sharp blade in my mouth between clenched teeth. Instead I will take a picture of this bottle of Tröegs' Hop Knife. But just as it sits on my countertop, not clenched between my teeth.

I must say that after the barber experience I was completely satisfied. There were a lot less hair remnants on my neck and therefore a lot less post-haircut itchiness. Generally, after a haircut I must immediately get into the shower. I can not tolerate the itchiness. But with the barber cut, while there was itchiness, it was greatly reduced. I still took a shower though. Mostly because I like to be naked.

It should also be noted that said barber gave me a Great Lakes Commodore Perry, an English IPA, to drink during said haircut. It was a special time for everyone involved. It was after this barbershop experience that I purchased a six pack of Tröegs' Hop Knife. I am currently enjoying one-sixth of that purchase.

The other day I had dream about a washer/dryer combo that also had a button labeled “lobster tank display”. Obviously, the first thing I did was push the lobster tank display button and then wait for a lobster tank to appear. To my absolute astonishment, a series of tiered pillars and levels rose up from behind the dryer, each one acting as a pedestal to display gorgeous, live lobsters. Then a flow of water began to pour down from the top of the display, and like a waterfall, flowed down over each level, calmly pouring over each lobster as they were presented to the world as champions of the sea.

If I had to describe this lobster tank in one word that word would be innovative. If I was allowed a second word, that word would be triumphant.

If I had to describe the appearance of this Tröegs' Hop Knife in one word that word would be bright. And then I would say orange-copper if you let me.

Has fresh hop season started? From what I can gather, Hop Knife is labeled a Harvest Ale and uses, I assume, fresh hops in their HopCyclone process, which based on the Tröegs' website “creates an inward spiral of hop dispersal during fermentation.” The beer is brewed with Cascade, Chinook, and El Dorado and then dry hopped Centennial, Citra, and Columbus however I'm having difficulty finding anything specific that says it is brewed using fresh hops or wet hops.

Regardless, that is a serious hop list.

It certainly smells like a fresh hopped beer with strong aromas of bright citrus and tropical fruit. It smells delicious. And the flavors have that grassy and bitter, slightly vegetable taste in the finish that is usually present in a fresh hopped beer. Not that those are the only flavors, just the ones that I typically notice as unique in a fresh hopped beer. And while “bitter vegetable” might sound like an unpleasant flavor, combined with the resinous citrus, bright tropical notes, and grass flavors from the hop profile, it is quite nice. 

TWITTER UPDATE: I reached out to Tröegs via Twitter while researching/writing this article and have recieved a reply. It turns out that Hop Knife is not a wet/fresh hopped beer but is heavily dry-hopped with Cascade, Chinook, and El Dorado hops. This is the opposite hop list from their website regarding hops vs. dry hops, but that is beside the point. The beer is delicious and the El Dorado hops, regardless of how they were used, stand out and taste delicious combined with the rest of the hop list.

Thinking a bit more about bitter vegetables, I wonder if attitude-wise, the carrot is the most bitter of all vegetables. I can't help but think about Tom Hanks stuck in the floor during that scene in the Money Pit. I imagine being a carrot is a lot like that. Stuck in the floor, but the floor is dirt. I would be bitter if that was my existence. Especially if it were raining. 

Wife says I lack empathy. I think I displayed some next level Buddha-esque empathy skills just then when I put myself in a carrot's shoes. Textbook vegetable empathy.

Also, I once sent myself an email with the subject line “You are a torso” followed by the message “and your limbs are just four weights.” I'm not sure what that says about my ability to empathize, perhaps with myself, or with the existence of my physical form, but it was the beginning of a rough two and half years for me.

Hop Knife, Tröegs Brewing Co. (4.7 BAR, 124 Style+)

Appearance = 4.5/5

Great bright, golden-orange color. About a finger of cream colored head on the pour, nice layer of retention thereafter. Some lacing on the glass.

Smell = 4.5/5

Citrus, citrus rind, and tropical fruit. Could smell it right from the pour.

Taste = 4.25/5

More resinous and earthy than the smell lets on, but still bright citrus, grass, and tropical fruit flavors. The bitter vegetable, almost metallic taste happens towards the finish. The flavors from the malt are light, letting the fresh hops flavors to shine through.

Feel = 4.25/5

Pretty substantial feel considering the lighter malt profile – just a big, juicy feel from the fresh hops. The finish, outside of some nice citrus bitterness, is still on the lighter side, as tends to be the case with fresh hopped beers.

Overall = 4.25/5

Delicious offering that goes great with the idea of the coming fall season. I hope this signals the beginning of more fresh hop offerings coming soon to shelves and taps, but until then I will be more than satisfied drinking this.

J. R. Shirt has delved into the world of fresh hopped beer before, which you can read here, and he hopes to continue to delve into that world some more. But do not fret, he has not abandoned his Chicago series, of which you can read Part One here. There will be more. Oh yes, there will be more. Follow J.R. on Twitter and Untappd @beeronmyshirt.