Hop God Reserve Series Aged In French Oak Chardonnay Barrels

April 20, 2010 by Aaron Goldfarb | Filed under Brewer: Nebraska, Country: America, Grade: A regular, Style: IPA.

10.1% ABV from a 750 mL

Now beer bloggers are a loathsome lot.  They sit at bars avoiding social contact in order to furiously scribble tasting notes.  They spend forever getting the lighting just so in order to take a picture of their beers when you just want to pop the cork and split the fucking thing.  They slobber-ogle the stray female that accidentally finds herself in a committed craft beer bar.  They, also, shamelessly beg for free “review” samples all day long, perhaps the most loathsome part of the beer blogger ethos.  They’ll ceaselessly tweet their idolized brewmasters asking for bottles, they’ll e-mail them, they’ll harangue them at beer events.  It’s like a high school virgin begging for sex.  Just pathetic.

Though, just like the high school virgin eventually wears down his girlfriend, these beer bloggers typically wear down the brewmaster who’d like to just get back to, you know, making beer and the blogger gets the sample (and laudingly shillingly praises it online) and now no one–not the devirginized virgins, the beer bloggers, or anyone–feels good about it.

Not that I too won’t occasionally do that kind of thing.  (Hey, just because I’m a hypocrite doesn’t mean I am wrong.)

Sometimes, when a beer is rare or I don’t have access to it, I’ve had to tweet out a favor or two.  There’s another time I might try to get a review sample–when shit’s expensive and this Jew don’t feel like paying for it.  Such was the case with the ten-word titled beer I will discuss henceforth.

Nebraska Brewing had just entered the New York market within the past month and I’d greatly enjoyed their Hop God.  Hearing they had some bottles of it aged in chardonnay barrels (whoa!) I eagerly looked for the stuff.  Now, admittedly, it seemed to be pretty limited in the marketplace but I did see a bottle or two floating around in the $25-30 price range.  Quite a bit to pay for a beer from an upstart brewery, especially when said beer had only a half-dozen or so reviews online (even if they were all glowing.)  So, I danced around online and never outright asked for any, but insinuated that I needed some sent to me, man, so I could, like, review it officially and stuff.  No luck.

Finally, last week, while making a rare visit to the is-it-now-so-passe-it’s-no-longer-passe once great Gingerman, my drinking companion wondered, “Are there any expensive bottles here you’d like to split?”  I scanned the extensive menu.  “As a matter of fact, there is…”  And such is how I came to spend a mere $14 for a half-share of some ten-word special Hop God.

It was worth every penny.

I can’t think of many Belgian IPAs* nor many chardonnay barreled beers**, which certainly means I can’t think of a single chardonnay barreled Belgian IPA which makes this Hop God a nice oddball rarity in my book.

The taste was more God-like than hop-like, I didn’t get any hops at all quite frankly through the nose or taste, but that hardly matters.  This was one bottle of sour tart deliciousness.  Strong wood flavors come through with the oak and the Belgian yeastiness is accented nicely by some subtle wine flavors.  Just a hint of citric sour fruit flavors as well.  Tastes not Belgian IPAish at all, more like a wild ale, so while I feel somewhat silly filing this as a Belgian IPA I’m not sure there’s any Brett in the barrel to make this officially “wild,” if that would be the one distinction.

A good beer can never be priced too much for me once I finally see how good it is and this one falls into that category completely.  I nearly considered buying another bottle even.  Though I doubted their ways at first, now I greatly admire Nebraska’s aggressive release, distribution, and pricing strategies.  What a way to splash onto the scene.  If you know you got good shit, why wouldn’t you act accordingly?  Seek this one out, ladies and fellas, it’s really fucking good.

This beer was actually Nebraska’s third release in their Reserve series and I’ve heard straight from the owners’ mouth that the first two releases, Black Betty–a RIS aged in whiskey barrels–and Fathead–a barleywine aged likewise–may hit NYC soon.  Which means I will immediately start e-begging for those two bottles the second I hit publish on the post and tweet owner and brewmaster to “Hey, hey, check out my glowing post!!!!”


*Though adding “Belgian” or “Belgo-” to many Americanized styles is currently de rigueur in the industry.

**Though Google “chardonnay barreled beer” and only two breweries’ beers appear on page 1:  Russian River and Nebraska Brewing Co.  Not bad company at all, eh?

6 Responses to “Hop God Reserve Series Aged In French Oak Chardonnay Barrels”

  1. That is an all too funny description of beer bloggers, from start to finish. Personally, I just drink at home so I can be anti-social, and I also brag about my terrible photographic skills so no one says so first!

    Florida has never seen a beer from this brewery, but I’m going to look around to see which friend might be traveling to one of their distribution areas.

    Nice review and thanks.

  2. Hopefully someone with knowledge can fill us in, but I believe Nebraska and NY might be the only places getting their stuff now and–at least in NYC–it’s tap-only except for this one. But I could be wrong, and I hope I am!

  3. Paul Kavulak says:

    Righteous! Glad you enjoyed it!
    We distribute in NE, IA, & NY in draft only save for the BA beers. Melange a Trois releases June 15th and NY has a pretty good sized share headed your way.
    Thanks for the kind words!

  4. Nice! Now will I still be able to get my hands on Black Betty and Fathead?

  5. Derrick says:

    I try to avoid being the blogger you describe. I’m afraid I’m not always successful, either.

  6. […] burst onto the scene in 2010 with two of my favorite beers of the year:  Hop God aged in Chardonnay Barrels and Melange a Trois, a tripel aged in, you guessed in, Chardonnay barrels.  Here’s another […]

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