People are going to look back on this era of beer and say, “Damn, they were hopping the hell out of everything.”
It’s not the first time this has happened. If you dig into the English beers of the early 1800s, you’ll find that, across the board, they were hopped in a manner that makes American craft brewers look conservative.
Whether you like this trend or not, I think there’s no denying that American brewers are becoming more adept in their promiscuous use of the brewer's spice. For every shit-tasting Belgian IPA I drank five years ago, there are now two great ones available.
Here’s yet another example of a traditional style of beer that gets the American treatment to good effect. This beer is a liquid snapshot of the current scene.
Ale Asylum Hummmane
Back when they called them microbrews, Brown Ales were ubiquitous. Now they’re few and far between. Perhaps this is how the lowly style will be resurrected.
Ale Asylum takes the traditional, English-style Brown Ale and marries it to the American Pale Ale. They’ve managed to do it without destroying what makes a good Brown Ale so appealing.
The beer has the biscuit-like maltiness you expect from a Brown Ale with an aroma full of dark sugar and molasses notes. It’s companioned with a vivid, citrusy hop scent that doesn’t overwhelm the malt’s aromatics. The flavor is much the same. The semi-sweet maltiness is spiced by a hop flavor that’s reminiscent of oranges and grapefruit. As I drank it, I thought again and again of orange-oatmeal cookies. It’s delicious. The bitterness is quite firm, but certainly not overwhelming. It’s a great example of why this current mania for hops is sometimes not such a bad thing.
The only place I’ve seen Hummmane in town is at Festival Foods where they sell it in six packs. Keep you’re eyes open for it. I imagine this’ll start popping up at other locations soon.