Last month I wrote a post about the madness of the Hoof Hearted Dragonsaddle Triple IPA can release party. To recap I showed up a little too late to ride the dragon, as hundreds upon hundreds of hopheads descended on an otherwise nondescript farm field in Morrow county. In response to my post several readers were kind enough to offer me some Dragonsaddle so I could write a review of this highly sought after beer. In the end, Tom O’Brien gifted me a couple of cans when we ran into each other at the Actual Sourpuss release party. So a big shout out to Tom, this review is made possible by his generosity.
- Brewery: Hoof Hearted (Marengo, OH)
- Style: Triple IPA
- ABV: 11.5%
- IBUs: 128
Dragonsaddle comes in a 12 ounce can wrapped in a thin rubbery forest green label sporting one of the Thom Lessner’s best Hoof Hearted illustrations in my opinion. The description of this beer, as given on the Hoof Hearted website is as follows:
The strong “herbal” aroma sends you back to freshman year catching a ride to school in your weird burnout neighbor’s Firebird whilst being bombarded by the sounds of Van Halen (DLR era, none of that Sammy Hagar synthy love song bullshit). DANKSOME! The flavor profile is full-on drippingly ripe tropical fruits: mango, guava, papaya, and citrus. Juicy, refreshing, and deceptive. We would highly recommend wearing a helmet and supportive cup when mounting the Dragonsaddle.
Dragonsaddle pours a translucent golden color topped with two fingers of a creamy, snow white head. As the head slowly recedes it leaves behind an intricate lacing pattern on the walls of the glass. The nose is as advertised, with big time scents of overripe tropical fruits and more dank, “herbal” aroma than a reggae festival. I take my time with the nose, just smelling the beer and taking notes for what must have been ten minutes as my wife gives me looks that are equal parts quizzical and pitying. A deep dive brings out mangos, grapefruit zest, coniferous forest, and leaves no doubt that hops and cannibis are both members of the Cannabinaceae family. Finally my resolve breaks down and I go in for my first taste. For the briefest instant I get sweet golden malts, but the power of the hops cannot be masked for long. The dank, piney, herbaeceous notes are even more prominent than they are in the nose, while the tropical fruits recede to the background. The bitterness creeps in from the outer reaches of my tongue and lingers long after the finish. The bitterness, appropriate for a Triple IPA, is unusual for a Hoof Hearted beer. There’s a subtle alcohol note at the end, but for beer that is not overly malty the 11.5% the alcohol is well hidden. The mouthfeel is oily and piney.
My reviews of Hoof Hearted beers are normally filled with effusive praise, but if I’m honest with you I’d have to say this beer was a challenge for my palate. Dragonsaddle is easy on the eye, has a beguiling nose, and the alcohol is surprisingly restrained, but I would prefer more fruit and a less dank in the taste. The bitterness from the hops keeps the sweetness of the malts in check, but is a bit much for my liking. It may be a bridge too far, even for a hop sorcerer like Hoof Hearted brewmaster Trevor Williams, to make a beer with 11.5% abv and 128 IBUs taste like a mango smoothie. Maybe I’m harboring unrealistic expectations for a triple IPA (a look through the archives shows that I gave Green Flash’s Green Bullet Triple IPA a paltry rating of 5), but I’m of the opinion that when it comes to IPAs bigger is not always better. Of course given the throngs of people who showed up for the can release I could be in the minority on this one.
Rating scale: 10 = perfection, 9 = excellent, one of the top beers in the world, 8 = very good, one of the top beers in its style category, 7 = good, a solid beer I’m happy to be drinking, 6 = average, not bad but not something I’m likely to buy again, 5 = below average, 3-4 = poor, should be avoided, 1-2 drainpour.