Lagunitas Brewing Company is a perennial crowd pleaser and beer snob favorite brewery. The brewery is known for messing with the classics, infusing some black magic, and producing some great brews.
Oh, and did I mention they have great labels? For some, beer packaging is 90 percent why you buy a beer. For these folks, the other 10 percent is probably the beer style, but who knows what’s running through these folks’ minds. Some are swayed by flashy graphics and funny names. Others are swayed by compelling color schemes or Zia suns. (Honestly, you need to be put down if you buy that crap. It’s not that it’s mediocre—they advertise the beer as the king of IPAs. YOU CAN’T BE THE KING OF IPAs IN A CAN.)
Fortunate for us, Lagunitas’s Hop Stoopid Ale follows the mold. A Steely Dan quote on the label invokes a LCD synthesis in the 70s and likens it to the tech-y manner in which this beer is brewed. The label reads: “The sensuous honey-like amber ooze was administered intravenously to the wort kettle and the sacrament was complete. Another kettle of Hop Stoopid is once again raised up and fermented on high.” If you can guess what the line is referring to, well, then you should have my job. But the black magic that was infused into this brew derives from super-critical C02 extraction. And, if you know what that is, you’re either a sophisticated stoner or a nerd (when do these labels ever overlap?).
In this process the oils from the hops are extracted and added to the beer (“the sensuous honey…”). The semi-gaseous and semi-liquid CO2, produced from increasing the pressure and lowering the temperature of the CO2, runs through the hops and is then stabilized in a oil. That, in turn, is added to the “wort.” This can contribute to a finer, crisper bite in IPAs, instead of an overwhelming cascade of hops erecting your taste buds. The hoppiness and bite in IPAs can be treacherous for some folks delicate tongues. Such tongues should try this beer. It is a non-IPA drinker’s IPA.
Stoners may be familiar with this process due to its use in extracting trichromes off flowers. But that’s a discussion for the Weeder’s Digest.
Again, Lagunitas hit it out-of-the-park with this brew. It’s sweet as it slides over the tongue. As I mentioned before it’s not abrasively hoppy. You can gather some honey fruitiness—but not enough to distract from the crisp hoppy bite. A sweeter malt provides a backdrop for the pine notes and citrus bite around the edges.
This week also brings in two beers from Boulevard Brewing Company in Kansas City, MO. Boulevard’s Reverb Imperial Pilsner makes you wonder: “Gee, I wish all the shitty mass produced pilsner kegs we buy from Weber were this!” It’s a medium body brew with more bitterness than your typical pils. It has a muted bready flavor that clocks in at 7.7%.
The second Boulevard beer is the Dark Truth Stout. If you’re a fan of creamy stouts, then this beer is for you. A full body beer with above average sweetness complimented by plum flavors and a clean, almost refreshing finale of alcohol.
If you can, try all three of these great brews. Don’t look past the Boulevards and their square or lame-ish logo. Nor, should you get caught up reading the labels. Unless, of course, if it’s from Lagunitas. It’s what inside that matters.