Everyone knows these days about PORT BREWING, one of the 21st century giants of American craft brewing. They’ve duly earned their stripes over the past several years with some of the most well-tended, experimental and robust beers in the world, starting with their PIZZA PORT beers, spinning off into the incredible PORT BREWING beers, to say nothing of the world-beating LOST ABBEY lineup. Whew. My favorites out of the big and growing bunch are Lost Abbey’s DEVOTION ALE, which is a blonde ale that’ll knock yer socks off yer ass; the Pizza Port HOP SUEY, a citrus-packed IPA to die for; and Lost Abbey’s AVANT GARDE, which right now stands to date as the finest example of the biere de garde style I’ve ever ingested. Any beer they release, you’d better pick up. Except for one.
I believe that to err is human and even divine, and that our humanity is best revealed by our mistakes, and our willingness to learn from them. Therefore I see the proverbial glass as half-full when I tell you that PORT BREWING’s new HOP 15 is a rare miss. In fact, it’s quite a severe disappointment, considering these fellas’ track record. HOP 15 burst onto the Double IPA scene a few months ago, and the initial word I got was that it was a good ‘un. Well if you believe me and not them, let me tell you that it’s not. It truly was not what I expected. HOP 15 is an over-hopped, 10 percent ABV bitter-bomb, one that truly is – and it saddens me to say this – a “Double IPA by the numbers”, albeit one that is too piney, and far too sweet. Of course, there’s no accounting for taste, but this reminds me of something you’d get from either an “extreme” homebrewer or a fledgling brewery (maybe one from Hawaii or Arkansas) – not something from a California goliath. Frailty is revealed, and imperfections are brought to the surface, thus illuminating the more beautiful portions of the repertoire. I’m going with 5.5/10 for HOP 15.