Friday, I was once again at the Route 6 bottle shop down the road. The lady behind the counter had a new beer she wanted to show me. She just got it in, a new arrival. The beer was the 2015 anniversary beer from Stone Brewing. It was Thunderstruck IPA. Right away I wondered how AC/DC would find their way into it. I picked up two bombers and made my way home.
Research. From the Stone website I learned that this is their 19th anniversary beer. The brewers decided to push the envelope on this beer with influence on Australia. Most of the dry ingredients are Aussie based. “… a quartet of Australian hops—Topaz and Galaxy, plus newcomers Ella and Vic Secret. We also had Fairview malt shipped in from Australia just for this brew.” Now we know where they’re coming from.
Way down, beneath the front label graphic on the bottle was the phrase “A double IPA with 100% Australian hops.” I wonder how many Aussie drinkers know that there are other beers besides Tooheys, Hahn, XXXX and Foster’s.
I’ve been reading more and more about the popularity of Australian and New Zealand hops. The malts not so much.The beer at hand would seem to be a perfect candidate. You’ll find the connection between this beer, its name and AC/DC in the video at the bottom. That’s how the beer got it’s name.
From a homebrewer’s perspective, I’d say that every American hop was used alongside every other American hop in a multitude of beers with different results, many positive. But hops from down under are a relatively new territory waiting to be explored.
It was time to have all of my preconceived beliefs in hop characteristics shaken to their very foundation. I’d either have a beer that was absolutely to die for, or one that left me horribly confused yet again.
Time to drink some bee-ah, Aussie style.
The beer poured a brilliant golden yellow in color. The one-inch head rose to about an inch. Tiny micro-bubbles rose from within. The aroma was of what at first seemed like grassy hops. But that’s just the nose talking.
The first sip was a bit different from what I was expecting. The beer had a medium mouthfeel and a very crisp bite at the swallow but the hop characteristics were hard to describe at first. They were different.
I caught a very small taste of tropical fruit but for now I’d call it an “earthy bitterness.” Slight hints of a bit of pineapple and maybe some orange came after the swallow. What was odd was that those flavors were deeply muted by the massive onrush of each sip. It was as if each musician in an orchestra played a different musical note and held it. After a while all the notes slowly changed to the same one note in unison. And it was good.
With this beer, there’s a mad rush of odd flavors through the sip until it’s down the hatch. Then many flavors came out after the charge of beer had been swallowed. The more I sipped, the more I liked it. It was not a beer for the sake of hops. It was a new flavor carefully crafted by skilled brewers. But it’s new and different to me. The fruitiness tasted is more toward the rind than the middle.
I’ve had some other American IPAs that taste similar, those that use an odd variety of hops just to do something different. This beer qualifies as such a beer.
Thunderstruck won’t appeal to some hop heads, but it is a different experience in a bottle worthy of tasting at least once. For me, I’d like to try a beer that utilized only one strain of daywn unduh hops to get a better idea of what the continent can offer.
Style: Double-Imperial IPA
Taste: Odd with quite a bit of fleeting bitterness.
Smoothness: A bit harsh at the swallow.
Drinkability: One more and that’s it.
Bang for the buck: Not bad for this unique flavor.
Amount paid: $9.99 per 22-ounce bottle.
Get it again? Maybe next year.
Wife’s all-encompassing opinion: Citrusy, bitter white rind part. Real grapefruity. Wow. Exactly like a grapefruit. Too much activity all at once. (Once again that Venus-Mars thing comes up.)
Stone’s take on Thunderstruck [3:03]
Just had to throw this in the mix. [4:52]