Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Port Brewing High Tide Fresh Hop IPA

"Because you look so happy to have it," she said.   I was.   I had just sat down at The Bad Apple in Chicago after discovering on the invaluable that the Apple had Port High Tide Fresh Hop IPA on draft, a once-a-year beer I had been waiting for and Shaun just posted about today.  Great minds think alike and our thoughts have again coincided on beer.   Shaun greatly enjoyed his from the looks of it, and mine was splendid.

The woman quoted above was the Floridian bartender at the Apple who poured my first High Tide of the evening and reveled in my obvious glee.  There was no reason not to be giddy.  Port is known for their lean hoppy beers and once again show no mercy with High Tide. 

Perhaps it's a bit overly aggressive in terms of being a fresh hop prototype.  Shaun aptly noted that fresh hop/wet hop beers are usually more complex than their dry hopped brethren because of the broader flavor profile achieved through wet hopping.  This recalls how a cask pour unearths unnoticed flavors from, say, a pale ale: fresh hopping spackles the beer mix with unique hop values, such as earth tones, strange flowers, spices.  For a common example of this see Founders Harvest Ale.  But subtlety and delicacy are never Port's forte.

High Tide IPA is bold, rugged, biting, and resin-dominant.  It's a classically lean San Diego IPA from the style's highest practitioners.  High Tide's fresh hopping is marked by a juiciness, not by a complex array of flavors.  The result is a sticky, resiny, slightly soapy, lip smacking tongue coater.  There's no complexity here. It's a polarizing beer divided along whether or not you are a hop hater.  Hopheads dream this.  Others are repulsed or simply in the dark.  Port will have none of it.  Theirs is simply to wallop you with such a hop assault that you need an MRI.  That's called knowing your fan base.

Shaun nails it here, observing that fresh hop beers are breweries' love letters to their plaid wearing pint tipping core fans.  If you love hops, nobody loves you like Port. 

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