Beer Review – Tour de Hops by Barley’s

A couple of weeks back I was attending an event held downtown at Brewcadia, upstairs from Barley’s Ale House on High Street across from the Convention Center.  I noticed a new house beer on tap, a double IPA dubbed Tour de Hops.  Whenever I come across a new beer made by Ohio’s longest tenured brewer, Barley’s Angelo Signorino, I have a standing policy to give it a try.  This policy has served me well over the years, and this was no exception.  Later I caught up with Angelo to get more details on this tasty new offering.  He told me this is the first iteration of a beer that will reappear on roughly a quarterly basis, each time brewed with a different hop.  Given the limited distribution of Barley’s beers I thought it would be a good service to the Columbus beer community to spread the word on Angelo’s latest creation.

tour-de-hops

Vitals

  • Brewery: Barley’s (Columbus, OH)
  • Style: Double IPA
  • ABV: 8.7%
  • IBUs: 84
  • Original Gravity: 1.089
  • Price: $7 for a 10 oz tulip glass

I asked Angelo how he would describe the beer to customers.  Here is what he sent me:

Our experimental Double IPA will feature different hops in each iteration. It’s a warming companion to Blurry Bike, our core IPA. This iteration features Ekuanot, HBC (Hop Breeding Program)-366, formerly known as Equinox. Experimenting with hops helps keep the brewer’s job interesting, we hope to keep our customer’s curious palate interested, too. Varying combinations of citrus, pine, tropical fruit and spicy hop flavors are almost balanced by rich British malt, American oats and a not so sneaky sensation of peppery alcohol. Enjoy the Tour, but don’t drink and ride.  First tapped on January 20, 2017 – a bitter day.

Going a little deeper here is the description of Ekuanot hops from the YCH website:

Developed by Hop Breeding Company and released in 2014, Ekuanot™ Brand HBC 366 features pronounced aroma characteristics and extremely high oil content. This variety bursts out of the spring soil in vibrant yellow and gradually matures to a deep green color by fall harvest.  Specific descriptors of the aroma include melon, berry, orange peel, lime, papaya, pine and fresh peppers.

My Review

Served in a tulip glass, Tour de Hops is golden-orange, with a shimmering hazy translucence. The glass is filled nearly to the top so that only a minimal white scrim of head remains.  The aroma is juicy, fruity, and oh so inviting.  Notes of grapefruit, orange, and a mélange of tropical fruits waft into the air, lending a splash of pacific island character to the dark environs of the venerable brewpub.  Each sip begins with a cascade of citrus fruit flavors, accompanied by a firm bitterness that sits squarely between the palate wreckers of the aughts and the fruit smoothies that are currently in vogue.  The underlying golden malt base adds sweetness that helps to balance the hop bitterness, but is relatively neutral from a flavor perspective (no caramel or nuttiness here).  The finish is quite dry, with some black pepper spiciness, and a lingering bitterness.  As the beer warms, and the glass empties, notes of pine become more apparent and the drying bitterness of the finish becomes more prominent.

Summary

This is no wallflower of a beer.  The hops are front and center and they demand your full attention.  Like Barley’s Four Seas Imperial IPA, a beer that graced my list of the top beers of the past year, Tour de Hops is a bit of a throwback to the days when the hop aroma, flavor and bitterness were all dialed up in an imperial IPA.  The nuances of the British malts are lost on me, overwhelmed by the hops, but the malts do their job as a canvas for the expressive Ekuanot hops.  You would do well to remember that this beer is packing nearly 9% abv, because the alcohol is well hidden.  It’s big enough to stand up to big bold food flavors, or cut through rich, calorie laden dishes.  For my return visit I paired Tour de Hops with a bowl Barley’s Pale Ale chili and an order of sauerkraut balls, a combination I highly recommend.

Rating: 7.75

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.

tour-de-hops_pairing

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