So, you like the hops, huh? That’s cool. I dabble, too. Just the standard stuff: IPAs, IPLs, the occasional dry-hopped sour. I had a friend get really into lupilin powder once. He ended up broke and on Citra. I never touch the stuff.
Anyway, have you heard of HOPFEST? No?! I thought you liked the hops!
Here’s the deal: For the third year, a boatload of local breweries will gather at Hellbender for a showcase of (mostly) rare, hard-to-find, and seasonal hop-forward beers. Check out this 2016 recap to see what you missed last year. Now, take a Valium for the FOMO.
This year’s edition is looking bigger and better, too.
The bigger: At least 25 breweries will be piling into Hellbender for 2017’s HOPFEST.
The better: It’s been moved from an early afternoon start to 7:00 p.m., so you can make a real night of it, and cut loose, and not end up drunk in Whole Foods cereal aisle before sunset.
You know what’s also better? The DC-area beer scene. Seriously. Not only are there more breweries, but the beers get better and better every passing season. HOPFEST is a great way to taste for yourself. Also, it benefits the D.C. Brewers’ Guild, so your $50 goes to a good cause – in addition to unlimited pours. And a complimentary tasting glass. Can’t forget the complimentary tasting glass.
Below, BYT is happy to unveil the line-up of beers so far. It includes a range of beer – plenty of the IPAs that you’d expect, sure, but some other gems, as well. We’ll update this list as we find out what other breweries are sending.
Tickets for HOPFEST are available here.
Union Craft’s Wook
Union Craft already makes one of the area’s best double IPAs with Double Duckpin. But since the Baltimore brewery releases only releases that beer quarterly, it’ll break off a special DIPA for us every once in a while. See: last summer’s Chubbler. Now they’re back with another (heady) DIPA called Wook. The hazy orange beer is hopped with “copious quantities” of Zythos, Ekuanot, Citra, and Lemondrop atop a grain bill of 2-Row barley, wheat, and oats. You’re gonna want to hit this. Before you do, revisit our December profile of the brewery.
Bluejacket’s Open Widow
Open Window is the latest double IPA from Bluejacket, a brewery that’s making more and more (and tastier) IPAs than ever before. This 8.5% doozy will be brewed and double dry-hopped with over 100 pounds of Citra and Mosaic hops (and lupilin powder). Like your IPAs fresh? It’ll be kegged out the morning of HOPFEST and debuting at the beer fest. That’s pretty damn fresh.
Ocelot’s Thought Control
Ocelot is perhaps the biggest addition to 2017’s HOPFEST. After all, any conversation about local IPAs has to include the Dulles brewery. If you don’t know why, set aside an hour and read our Ocelot profile from earlier this year. I’ll wait… OK, moving on. While several of Adrien Widman and Mike McCarthy’s recent IPAs have drifted into hazier, sometimes orangey territory (see: Hope, Mi Corazon, Jacks n Jokers), Thought Control is a more traditional Ocelot banger: straw pale yellow with a confident hoppy bitterness. The brewery first produced the beer last June, and as Ocelot often does with its best creations, it decided to brew another batch of the Motueka showcase. After having consumed a few pints of Thought Control 2.0, I am comfortable saying this version is even better than the original.
Right Proper’s Teeth of the Lions Rule the Devine
You are probably well familiar with Right Proper’s dry-hopped Berliner weisse Diamonds, Fur Coat, Champagne. (And if you’re not, you need to reevaluate your life choices.) Well, Teeth of the Lions Rule Devine is that beer’s more fun cousin. At 3.5%, the spring seasonal is similarly a low-ABV Berliner, but the twist is that it’s brewed with dandelions, then dry-hopped with Chinook and Centennial for “an herbal, citrus, and pine character that balances the bright and fruity acidity of the Berliner.” Take a walk down memory lane with our recent Right Proper feature.
Manor Hill’s IPA (Double Dry-Hopped with Galaxy)
Manor Hill’s IPA is probably the best local IPA you can find on a shelf. And by shelf, I mean fridge, because every time I see Manor Hill IPA that’s not in cold storage, a little part of me dies. Anyway, Manor Hill IPA. This beer is a showcase for Mosaic hop, although it features El Dorado and Centennial, too. The grist, meanwhile, is balanced with American 2-Row and Belgian Special Aromatic malts. It’s a phenomenal beer. And while I’m a little wary of the trend where breweries double dry-hop a beer and charge more for a nominally different beer, the double dry-hopped version Manor Hill IPA is just insanely good (and better). Head brewer Ben Little is a hop surgeon. This new batch will feature a massive Galaxy dry-hop, and it will be my first stop at HOPFEST.
Port City’s Maniacal
“Monumental is our flagship IPA, but when you give it to some people, they’re like, ‘No, it’s not hoppy enough for me.’” Port City founder Bill Butcher told us a few years ago. “Well, who are we to say what the right amount of hops is? If people want a double IPA, then we’ll make a Double IPA for them.”
What they ended up making, Maniacal, is one of the area’s best double IPAs.
“It doesn’t clobber you over the head with bitterness,” Butcher says of the beer. “It doesn’t taste like garlic and onions. It has a beautiful floral aroma, and a character that showcases the hops. That’s the fine line that all of our beers walk: Sure, it’s hoppy and super alcoholic, but it’s easy to drink, too.”
The 8.5% beer “boasts a golden color with a slight orange hue and bold flavors of citrus and pine.” The beer is “pre-hopped” (a process of adding hops in the brew kettle before it boils) for extra hop bitterness and flavor. Then, Port City double dry-hops Maniacal IPA with CTZ, Chinook, and Simcoe hops, using their patented Hopzooka.
Also, revisit our recent Port City feature. It’s worth the read.
District ChopHouse’s Lost Cliché
Against the odds and most reasonable logic, the District ChopHouse – a classically inclined D.C. institution – has produced two of the city’s most well-received New England-style IPAs. First came (now Jailbreak brewer) Rob Fink’s Paradise Regained. Now, there’s Lost Cliché. Here’s the scoop from the brewery: “Unapologetic flavors of resin, light pine, berry and melon are followed by bold aromas of citrus, papaya, blueberry, and grape/white wine. Bitterness compliments, but doesn’t overwhelm. Massively double dry hopped with Mosaic, Nelson Sauvin and a touch of Equinox. Warning: Lost Cliché will flat out assault your palate.” You’ve been warned.
Atlas Brew Works’ Home Rule
Home Rule is a 5.8% India Pale Lager brewed with a pilsner malt base and fermented with Atlas’ house lager yeast. To this “clean and crisp backdrop,” the beer gets late and dry hop additions of two Southern hemisphere hops: New Zealand’s citrusy Waimea hops and Australia’s tropical Galaxy hops. Per the brewery, these “exotic hop aromas are balanced by a slight bitterness that will have you reaching for sip after sip.” With so many IPAs, a lager is gonna quite popular around hour three of HOPFEST.
Hellbender’s Hello, Goodbye
Hellbender’s Hello, Goodbye is a massively aromatic double IPA showcasing primarily Idaho 7, which is an experimental hop and not a Keanu Reeves movie. There are some Wakatu and Citra hops in there, too. The grist consists of malted oats, wheat, 2-Row, and a touch of honey malt. Hellbender’s Ben Evans was nice to share some of the in-progress batch with me last night, and it is already a wonderful beer.
Beltway’s Hansel Sour IPA
Hansel is a 7% sour IPA. And, yes, that’s a reference to Owen Wilson’s character in “Zoolander”. Per the brewery one sheet: “Is it an IPA? Is it a Sour? It’s Blue Steel, Ferrari, and Le Tigre all rolled into one. It’s no piano key necktie, but it’s certainly an experience for your taste buds. Don’t ask questions. Just give in to the taste of the hops and the sour. Because sour beers…so hot right now!”
Denizens’ DubPlate Intergalactic Mix
DubPlate is Denizens’ (normally) taproom-only, West Coast-style, rotating-hop double IPA. Got all of that? The Silver Spring brewery uses a “100% pale malt to provide a blank canvas for the hops to shine over.” (That’s how they do it out west.) The recently released Intergalactic Mix of the DubPlate features Galaxy, Rakau, Simcoe, and Chinook hops, which lend “strong notes of dank pine all the way through with more subtle notes of pineapple and passion fruit.”
The Brewer’s Art’s Porch Ale
Porch Ale is a sessionable summer pale ale dry-hopped with Nelson Sauvin hops. As a fan of porches, summer, sessionable beers, pale ales, and Nelson Sauvin hops, I approve of this beer.
Fair Winds’ Masthead Mosaic
Masthead Mosaic is an East Coast IPA, which means it’s hoppier than an English IPA but more malt balanced than a West Coast IPA. So, you know, there’s some crystal malt in the mix. Think: Port City’s Monumental, Lost Rhino’s Face Plant, and Hellbender’s Ignite. Masthead Mosaic, meanwhile, is single-hopped throughout the boil and dry-hop with Mosaic, as you might have guessed. Expect flavors and aroma of berries, tangerine and tropical fruit.
Bad Wolf’s Kaiju
You knew someone had to bring a coffee IPA to the party, right? That brewery is Manassas’ Bad Wolf Brewing. Kaiju is a 7.1% “piney and resinous West Coast IPA,” and this batch (or maybe cask?) features coffee.
DuClaw’s Double Galactic Farmhouse SMaSH
When it comes to hop-forward beers, it’s (usually) all about keeping things #ultrafresh. DuClaw’s Off Line Series carries that idea to its logical conclusion: Its beers are available for purchase and consumption directly off the bottling line. (Get it? Off Line?)
The fourth entry is called Double Galactic Farmhouse SMaSH. “SMaSH,” if you’re not familiar, is short for “Single Malt and Single Hop” – a type of recipe intended to showcase the characteristics of each ingredient. In this case, the hop is Galaxy, and the malt is pilsner. The beer was then fermented with a saison yeast derived from Brasserie de Blaugies. At 8%, that makes it basically a farmhouse Double IPA, which is right up my alley.
Here’s what you can expect from Double Galactic Farmhouse SMaSH: “a blend of passion fruit, apricot, and citrus flavors and aromas that last through to a crisp, refreshing finish.” And if you missed the brewery release last weekend, HOPFEST is the only keg of the beer headed to the District.
Devils Backbone’s CattyWompus
CattyWompus is a Belgian-inspired IPA. It was formerly called Belgian Congo Pale Ale, but then someone Google searched “Belgian Congo,” and they changed the name. The beer is fermented with a Belgian yeast strain, and it’s hopped with a blend of Centennial, Northern Brewer, Saaz, Simcoe, and Sorachi Ace. It’s tasty.
Mad Fox’s Praha Pils
God bless the brewery that brings a pilsner to a hopfest. Seriously. That beer is going to be a sight for sour eyes with all the hopbombs flying around. Mad Fox’s Praha Pils has a spicy, herbal quality from its Saaz hops, with a smooth malt flavor and dry finish. Or so I am told.
Three Notch’d’s El Dorado IPA
The flagship IPA of Three Notch’d, 40 Mile IPA, prominently features El Dorado, a tropically fruity hop grown in Yakima Valley. Now that varietal gets its close-up with El Dorado IPA, a 7.1% hop-forward ale brewed with golden pale malt, plus a touch of crystal malt and oats.
7 Locks’ Devil’s Alley
Devil’s Alley is 7 Locks’s core IPA – a “generously hopped, highly aromatic dry IPA. Notes of citrus, pine and hints of pepper are present as well as a bitterness to compliment the full aroma.”
Flying Dog’s Tropical Bitch
Tropical Bitch is Flying Dog’s Raging Bitch, but brewed with pineapple, mango and passionfruit. The Frederick brewery made the beer for last year’s 25th anniversary, and people must have like it, because it’s back as a counterprogramming late winter seasonal. The 8% beer is hopped with Warrior, Galaxy, and Amarillo.
Compiled by Philip Runco.