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Des de Moor
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Accredited Beer Sommelier
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Des de Moor


Alpine Pure Hoppiness

Alpine Pure Hoppiness.

Pure Hoppiness.

ABV: 8%
Origin: Alpine, California, USA

When you think about it, “Pure Hoppiness” is such an obvious punning name for a hop-focused beer, it’s surprising someone didn’t grab it years ago. Instead, it’s fallen to a very small but high achieving craft brewery in the rural reaches of San Diego County to apply the term to one of its signature beers, an outstanding example of a West Coast double IPA.

Brewing brothers Patrick and Shawn McIlhenny, who founded Alpine in 2002, are cagey about the exact ingredients and IBUs of Pure Hoppiness, but do disclose that double the normal quantity of hops is added on the boil, with more in the hopback followed by two sessions of dry hopping, the later one with the addition of oak chips. An even hoppier companion beer, Exponential Hoppiness, has since been added, though I prefer this better balanced example.

My sample, a 65cl (22oz) bomber bottle bought from the Best Damn Beer Shop in downtown San Diego, poured a hazy warm gold with a yellow-tinged head and a very piny, slightly savoury aroma layered with tropical fruit. I detected a faint hint of diacetyl – sometimes regarded as a flaw for an IPA but in this case restrained enough not to detract from the clean fruity hop character.

Hophead beers of this kind can so easily fall into the trap of presenting an aggressive cacophony of bitter resins from the start, but the best examples reward the patient drinker by revealing their riches over successive sips, and Pure Hoppiness is no exception, unfolding a succession of layers of hoppy delights on the palate while remaining lively and cheerful.

Smooth mint toffee and pine kick things off, with firm rooty hops emerging over the support of chewy malt, and even a hint of coffee. A long, very full and bittering finish crackles with rooty, herbal hop flavours, white grapefruit and a dash of mint.

Alpine is a small town so named because it reminded a 19th century resident of Switzerland. Its eponymous brewery has given the place a new peak to admire.

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