Quest for the Holy Hoptimum

All right, I’ve got it. It took some time, effort, and a lot of hard work, but I finally managed to get five damn minutes to sit down and have a beer. Oh, and it’s the Sierra Nevada Hoptimum.

This brew has taken off just about everywhere I’ve seen it, and I know that because I haven’t been able to find it. I used to have a manager like that, who apparently had that quantum physics thing going on where as soon as you spotted him, he was already somewhere else. Finding the Hoptimum was a challenge all in itself, since scouring liquor stores and bars is not exactly a recreational activity. But, at last, I’ve found the elusive brew.

I’ve heard the hype, but as a rule I never trust the hype, which is why I’ve determinedly never read Harry Potter or had a twitter account. But since I had to try this for myself, the Hoptimum being a hoppy brew right up my alley, and it’s my job, I fought for my bottle.

And yes, it lives up to the hype. Oh, good beer gods, does it live up to the hype. It’s got a fantastic hoppiness matched by the perfectly balanced body. The blend of hops isn’t just the usual slightly dry citrusy/piney blend, this is… well, to be frank, it’s unique.

I’m tempted to compare it to that unattainable Pliny the Elder, but without comparing the two side by side, it’s not a fair comparison.

The Hoptimum is a crisp, bright brew with a wonderful, lingering, tangy, hoppy aftertaste. Each sip has just enough sweetness to match the big brutal hops, which once you get over the initial hop blast, you realize it’s like a blast of nice cold water on a hot, humid summer day, it’s almost like a relief, especially if you haven’t had a good IPA in a long time.

This may be one of the finest IPA’s I’ve ever tasted. It’s definitely in the top five. Again, I’m going to need the top five side by side to really fairly compare them. But yes, it’s that goddamn good! If you’re a hop head, or a fan of good beer in general, you had better start fighting for your pint or four-pack now. Oh, and don’t be greedy, take only your fair share and let others enjoy this great beer blessing. If I could make an IPA like this, I’d probably never leave the house.

Domestic Disorderly

I hope you don’t mind me going off on a bit of a tangent, but we have to stop calling them ‘Domestic’ beers.

First of all, the term is misleading. It’s like saying your cheeseburger is a domestic meal. Second, there are more craft beers produced in this country than ever before, and the term ‘Domestic Beer’ applies to them, unless it’s dollar pint night in which case ‘Domestic’ I think takes on the same meaning as a domesticated dog.

But therein lies the confusion. Even Samuel Adams made this distinction in a commercial some years ago pointing out that it had more flavor than a typical domestic beer, than immediately pointing out it IS a domestic beer.

And the blokes at Boston Beer are not alone. Sierra Nevada, Dogfish Head, Harpoon, Magic Hat, these are all completely American beers produced in this country, owned by Americans and made by American brewmasters using their own recipes that create American jobs and absolutely cannot be outsourced.

Budweiser’s never been truly American, and currently it’s owned by a European Company. So even calling Budweiser a Domestic Beer is stretching the term a little. Does that mean Budweiser is an Import?Sierra Nevadais Domestic.

Again, the fault lies in the term. Sure, it was okay when the world was divided into the cheap stuff made here, and the expensive stuff made there, but things have changed so much in the industry that the terms have become meaningless. There are imported beers that are so cheap you could blow your entire beer budget on a couple of cases and still have food money for the rest of the week.

So it is my opinion that we need to retire this outdated phrasing in favor of something more accurate. I’ve been brainstorming quite a bit on this point and I’ve come up with some possibilities.

‘Familiar’ and ‘Exotic’ – The only problem with this is that ‘familiar’ is a very subjective term and I don’t think bar owners will be getting people to line up for ‘familiar’ dollar pint nights.

‘Corporate’ and ‘Craft’ – Corporate draft night doesn’t sound any better, as corporate has a stigma associated with the name, and Craft Night might attract the Goth crowd accidentally.

‘Quantity’ and ‘Quality’ – This one is more accurate, and to be honest, really addresses the direct purpose of each category. One you drink to get drunk, the other you drink to enjoy. It’s unambiguous and direct. Plus each has a ‘Q’ and ‘Q’ is an awesome letter, just ask anyone in the middle of a Scrabble game.

‘Lagers’ and ‘Ales’ – I’m not even going to go into this one, because it’s stupid and ignorant.

‘Average’ and ‘Above’ – I suppose this opens for a theoretical ‘Below’ category, but I don’t think big corporate breweries would be all that enthused about calling their brews ‘Average’ after the billion dollar marketing campaigns.

I thought long and hard about this, but I think I’ve finally come to something that might work.

‘Common’ and ‘Specialty’ – Let’s face it, the big 3 (or, rather, the big 2,) are always going to be around, in great quantity, no matter what. And ‘common’ doesn’t mean anything bad. It’s the beer for the ‘common man’ as a politician might say. Then, there’s the specialty category that denotes a beer that had more thought and effort put into it than your typical ‘lite’ beer.

So I move that from this day forward, throughout the land, spreading near and far, we shall no longer use the archaic terms ‘Domestic’ and ‘Import.’ From now on, it’s ‘Common Draft Dollar Pint Nights,’ and ‘Specialty Beer Specials!’ For I, the Beer Nerd has decreed it, it must be so. Bar and pub owners, let’s move with the times and embrace the future of beer together!

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