Deschutes “Hop Henge Experimental IPA”
This seasonal Imperial IPA is available January through April. The term “experimental” is in reference to a single mystery hop variety that joins a family of Cascade, Centennial, Millennium, and Chinook. On the nose are reminiscent notes of tart clementines, mango, apricot, cannabis, mint, and sweet bubblegum.
The palate reveals a panoply of citrus carrying a sense of elevated lightness, infusing fresh and juicy hop flavors. A balanced blend of bitter and sweet is expressed like orange zest over biscuits with honey, carried through all the way to the end. Fruity esters infuse flavors of papaya, peach, and pineapple. Hops gradually expand into an herbal blend best described like rosemary, juniper, lavender, sage, and pine that rises into a climactic strike. Sticky hop resins are stirred up in its wake, lingering without destroying the palate or too much oily film left behind. The mouthfeel begins clean, slightly crisp in carbonation, growing creamy in the middle, then finishing oily with a dash of thinning solvent. Alcohol comes in the form of fruity esters, light hints of spicy phonols that add a light spice to the finish.
As far as doubles IPA’s go, this delivers what I would expect, so I was neither impressed nor disappointed. I find it’s not as layered, thick, and textured as many others, which at least may provide greater drinkability. As for style parameters, this is really spot-on, and I find very little to complain about. While this is rated at a bitterness of 99 IBU’s, in no way does it present itself with such intensity. It’s just an all around solid brew with good aroma and even better flavor. If you’re a fan of doubles, I think its worth at least one purchase. I appreciate the superb balance, its ability to present intense hoppiness without aggressive bitterness. While Hop Henge doesn’t join my list of favorites, it displays a strong confidence with a sense of wholeness. Once again, I recommend it to the hop heads.
Known Malts: Munich, pale, crystal, carastan.
Known Hops: Cascade, Centennial, Millennium, Chinook.