Beer Reviews (Hoppy Beers)

Here you will find reviews of beer styles where hops are the main attraction: Pale Ales, IPAs, Imperial IPAs, Amber Ales, etc.  Below is a running tab of the beers that have been reviewed on this site, with brief descriptions and ratings of each beer.  You can access the full review of each beer by clicking on its name.

My rating scale is: 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.


Grapefruit Walleye (North High) Rating = 8  An amply hopped citra pale ale gets a boost of fruitiness from the addition of grapefruit juice.  Think of it as a shandy for hopheads.

Gravity Wave (Land Grant) Rating = 8  A black IPA that features dark chocolate flavors from Midnight Wheat and Blackprinz malts, with a triple dry hop regimen that showcases Galaxy and Citra hops.

Magnon (Actual) Rating = 8  Actual finally releases a straight up IPA featuring two new hop varieties, Eureka! and Lemondrop.  The result is a beer spilling over with herbal, fruity notes and crazy good head retention.

Defaced (Sideswipe) Rating = 8.5  An Imperial Red Ale that starts off with rich caramel and toffee flavors and finishes with a big punch of citrusy hops.  The net effect is reminds me of caramel coated oranges.

Dragonsaddle (Hoof Hearted) Rating = 7  A triple IPA that tips the scales at 11.5% abv and 128 IBU this is not a beer for the feint of heart.  Bursting at the seams with hop aroma, the taste is full of dank, piney, herbacious hop flavor but it also comes with more bitterness than I’ve come to expect from Hoof Hearted hop bombs.

South of Eleven (Hoof Hearted) Rating = 9  Summary: A world class double IPA in the same vein as Bodhi or Heady Topper.  The fruity, dank hop aroma is over the top, while the alcohol and bitterness are surprisingly restrained.

Humulus Nimbus (Seventh Son) Rating = 9  Summary: Billed as a super pale ale, this is an IPA in all but name. The exotic fruit flavors of the Mosaic hops pair nicely with the dank, piney flavors of the Simcoe hops. This is Columbus’ version of Zombie Dust.

Firecat (Seventh Son) Rating = 8  Summary: An imperial amber ale (9.4% sbv) that is made exclusively with Red X malts and a big dose of Amarillo, Simcoe and El Dorado hops.  The combination makes for juicy orange like flavors with a funky, dank twist.

Mr Owl (Seventh Son) Rating = 8  Summary: A hoppy brown ale that balances the cocoa and caramel flavors of a brown ale with ample amounts of citrusy hops that you would expect from a Seventh Son beer.

Barrel Aged Conductor Imperial Rye (Actual) Rating = 8  Summary: All of the tastiness of one of the best Rye IPAs out there, aged in once used bourbon barrels to add an additional layer of complexity.

Big Star White IPA (Four String) Rating = 7.5  Summary: This beer looks and smells like a Belgian Blonde, but the taste has a little more kick thanks to a generous addition of American hops that blends harmoniously with the Belgian yeast flavors.

Spacewalker American Belgo (Great Lakes) Rating = 7  Summary: Sweet, fruity flavors from the Belgian yeasts vie with unmistakable citrus notes from the American hops for top billing in your taste receptors.  It’s a bold beer, but the whole is not necessarily better than the sum of the parts here.

Sunshine Daydream (Fat Head’s) Rating = 8  Summary: Fat Head’s entry into the session IPA market is a crisp, refreshing beer spilling over with citrusy hop deliciousness, and enough malts to keep the astringency and bitterness of the hops from derailing things. Perhaps the best session IPA I’ve tried.

Conductor Imperial Rye (Actual) Rating = 9  Summary: This is a bold Rye PA made that starts out like a balanced hop-forward American Pale Ale before a wave of rye spiciness kicks in.  It’s the best Rye PA I’ve tried anywhere, and one of the best beers ever brewed in Columbus.

Brass Knuckles (Four Strings) Rating = 6  Summary:  This beer is a combination of bready, slightly sweet malts, like you might find in a Dortmunder Lager, and piney, moderately bitter hops.  There is not much in the way of citrus or tropical fruit highlights from the hops.

Alpha King (Three Floyds) Rating = 8.5  Summary: A textbook example of what a balanced hop-forward American Pale Ale should be.  This is a classic.

Chillwave (Great Lakes) Rating = 9.5  Summary: If you are looking for a bold celebration of hop fruitiness, Chillwave is the beer for you.  The poster child for Mosaic hops it pushes the unconventional hop flavors and aromas up to the edge without going over the precipice

Nugget Nectar (Troegs) Rating = 8  Summary: A supremely well balanced Imperial Amber Ale. Fruity flavors complimented by a touch of caramel from the malts. Thirst quenching and highly drinkable, no small feat for a beer that weighs in at 93 IBUs.

Big Vic Imperial IPA (Elevator Brewery) Rating = 7.5  Summary: Juicy tropical fruit flavors (oranges, pineapples, …) and a relatively restrained level of bitterness (for an Imperial IPA) make for a tasty and refreshing beer.  The aroma and head don’t quite measure up to the best Imperial IPAs though.

Orthodox Winter IPA (Actual Brewing) Rating = 7  Summary: Labeled a Winter IPA by one of Columbus’ newest breweries, Actual Brewing, but it tastes very much like a hoppy Robust Porter.  Say hello to the new Edmund Fitzgerald.

PsycHOPathy (Mad Tree) Rating = 8  Summary: This beer is dry hopped with Chinook and Centennial hops which gives a big grassy hop nose, reminiscent of a fresh hop IPA. Relatively low levels of bitterness and highly drinkable.  It reminds me of a more substantial version of Founders All Day IPA.

Hopslam (Bell’s) Rating = 8   Summary: An iconic double IPA made with six different varieties of hops and honey.  For a beer that is 10% abv and 70 IBU this is a devilishly easy drinking beer.  For a DIPA its nose is understated and the honey gives it a unique mouthfeel, thick but not very resinous/oily.  Generally only available for 1-2 weeks in mid to late January.

Golden Ratio IPA (Seventh Son) Rating = 6.5   Summary: An IPA made with southern hemisphere (New Zealand/Australia hops).  This beer features a big nose of dank green hops mingled with tropical fruit aromas.  It is the fruitiest (and IMO best) New Zealand hop beer I’ve tried to date, although I’m still not overly enthusiastic about Southern Hemisphere hops.

Green Bullet (Green Flash) Rating = 5   Summary: Billed as a triple IPA this new seasonal release by Green Flash packs 10% abv and 100+ IBU.  This beer is all about the New Zealand Green Bullet hops that give it an aroma and flavor that remind me of mildly sour white grapes and pine.

Fork in the Road (Blank Slate) Rating = 8   Summary: This Cincinnati brewed beer bills itself as an India Amber Ale.  With a big grapefruit nose, notes of citrus and pine in the taste, and plenty of bitterness on the finish this is a beer worth seeking out.

Zoetic (Yellow Springs) Rating = 7.5   Summary: The dominant feature of this beer is its grassy, freshly picked hop aroma.  The hop forward nose is paired with a moderate abv (5.3%), relatively little bitterness, and a light bodied mouthfeel.  I find this beer very reminiscent of Founders All Day IPA.

Zoe (Maine Beer Company) Rating = 7   Summary: A dark amber ale that mixes fresh green American hop aroma and taste with seven different malts that give a toasty malt flavor with subtle chocolate highlights that holds its own against the hops.  Both hops and malts are very nice but in my opinion they don’t compliment each other very well.

Trailhead Pale Ale (Fatheads) Rating = 8   Summary: A pale ale, fresh hopped with citra and simcoe hops that is available only on tap.  This beer is entirely about the fresh green hop flavors and aromas.  If you like wet hopped beers like Founders Harvest Ale, you’ll love this beer that took home a silver medal from the 2013 Great American Beer Festival.

Kiwi Rising (Jack’s Abby) Rating = 4   Summary: A double india pale lager from Massachusetts that is a showcase for New Zealand hops.  The problem is that the hops used in this beer taste more like onions, garlic and juniper than kiwis and oranges.  If you like NZ hops this may be a beer for you, but I couldn’t get past the odd taste/smell.

Autumnation (Sixpoint) Rating = 7   Summary: A wet hopped seasonal offering from Sixpoint that falls somewhere between an amber ale and an IPA.  The mosaic hops used for the wet hopping give it a juicy fresh hop aroma, with equal parts citrus and pine in the taste.

Bell’s Amber Ale (Bell’s) Rating = 6   Summary: Looks and tastes more like a golden lager than an amber ale.  Nice big, creamy head with good retention and lacing.  Light, bready malts at the front with the hops buried deep in the background.  This is a good choice if you need to share beers with a non-craft beer drinker and are looking for something you both can enjoy.

Resin (Sixpoint) Rating = 7.5   Summary: A very good example of the double IPA style.  Fresh hop aroma on the nose, pine oil on the tongue, with an assertive, lingering bitterness.  The hops keep the sweetness of the malt in check and the alcohol is well hidden.   This is an easy to drink beer which given the 9.1% ABV could get you in trouble.

Founder’s Harvest Ale (Founders) Rating = 8   Summary: A seasonal wet hopped beer.  If you like fresh hops the floral grassy/hemp smell of this beer is out of this world. Don’t pass up a chance to grab some of this beer if you are lucky enough to find some.

Anti Hero IPA (Revolution Brewing) Rating = 7   Summary: More pine than citrus, does everything an IPA should do, but struggles to rise above a crowded field of competing IPAs.  Not quite enough bitterness to keep the sweetness completely in check.

MO (Maine Beer Company) Rating = 8.5   Summary: Fresh floral hop aroma, spicy black pepper finish.  Founder’s Harvest Ale meets Prima Pils and beer lovers of the world rejoice.

White Rajah (The Brew Kettle) Rating = 9   Summary: A hop forward IPA that has more citrus fruit character than just about any beer out there.  This beer gets my vote for the best IPA around, and beat out nine other IPAs to come out on top in our blind taste test (see taste test section of the site for full details).  Not for those who look for hop-malt balance or sublteties in their beer.

Flower Power IPA (Ithaca Brewing) Rating = 7   Summary: A nicely balanced IPA, with floral hop and pine flavors on top of a pale malt base.  An easy drinking IPA that is solid but struggles to distinguish itself from the crowded field of IPAs on the market.

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