That whiplash between your fave summer IPA or, even moreso, your default lager, to beers like Sierra Nevada “Celebration”, Deschutes’ own “Jubelale”, or Ninkasi “Sleigh’r” is a real Thang, and it used to be that very few breweries acknowledged a gap between summer and winter, except for the reflex Octoberfest. And with Hops Freaks all over the map clamoring for their lupulin fix year-round, Something had to be Done.
Leave it to Deschutes to do it.
Hüll Melon, from the Hops Research Center in Hüll, Germany, (“Hopfenforschungszentrum Hüll”, is the proper name. Isn’t this one of those rare times when you’re glad you speak English?) is the wild card in this troika of Euro-inspired buds, with its strawberry and melon flavors, amply buoyed by firm doses of Sterling and Herkules, another German variety, also bred in Hüll. The Deschutes website proclaims of Hopzeit “If you’re looking for a traditional Oktoberfest, head to Munich. This modern ale inspired by the time-honored flavors of a Märzenbier combines classic malts with the latest hop varietals from Germany to deliver an herbal and balanced Autumn IPA”. And a Marzen is very much the closest style to this staunchly medium-bodied ale…but not exactly. It should go without saying, for anyone who has tasted widely in American and Euro beer styles, that a traditional German Marzen would not really fly in PNW bars. Like its cousins in the British ale culture, the German idea of “hoppy” translates to “impossibly mild” on the West Coast palate. Need proof? Buy a German Marzen and Hopzeit and taste ’em side by side. Do the same with a Brit IPA and any NW IPA. It’ll take you :02 to get that difference. Hopzeit IS, very much, in the spirit of a traditional Marzen but it is an adamantly Northwest beer. There will be enough resiny goodness here, enough bitter edginess, to satisfy even the most flannel-tongued HopHead,while keeping the malty lightness of the German original.
The flavors run to the same continuum as the first edition: melon, subtle strawberry, baking spices, fruit leathers, candied nuts, pink grapefruit, sweet herbs, and pine/spruce resins. They’re distinct and emphatic. You won’t have to hunt for any of ’em. And that resiny, bitter, crisp backbone announces itself with the first sip and evolves, on the finish, to a pretty suggestion of nutmeg and baked apples.