Sometimes you just have to get back to your roots, y'know? Not that we're watching, but we know that sometimes you close your bedroom door, wrap yourself up in slap bracelets, and listen to George Michael until your ears bleed with joy. And that's okay. For us, getting back to basics means opening up a brew that reminds us of our first beery epiphanies. In many cases, that translates to enjoying the most dank, hoppy IPA we can get our hands on.
There are many breweries in our neck of the woods that create world-class hoppy beers -- Russian River Brewing, Drake's, and Knee Deep Brewing immediately come to mind. But, there's no denying that Southern California is the reigning mecca when it comes to pungent, piney brews. One of the newer operations to emerge in the hops race is El Segundo Brewing. The bulk of the brewery's releases (at least the ones we've seen in Northern California) are hop-forward. Our favorite so far is the enormously hoppy Hop Tanker Double IPA.
Hop Tanker is a study in the modern approach to IPA brewing: use enough malt to balance a whopping dose of hops (but not enough to yield a sweet brew), keep your bittering hops at a moderate level, and increase the late and dry-hopping to a level that overwhelms the nostrils with fruity, tropical aromas. This 9 percent ABV beast reeks of juicy grapefruit zest and white grape as soon as you crack bottle open. Flavors of tangerine and a light woodsy quality are readily apparent, with notes of pineapple playing in the background, and a firm bitterness that never overwhelms the palate. If there's one word to describe this brew, it's juicy. High quality 2-row malt offers a kiss of graham cracker character, but the star is certainly the boatload of Nelson Sauvin and Citra Hops (two pounds per barrel just for the dry hopping).
Like all hoppy beers, Hop Tanker is best enjoyed fresh, so grab a bottle and enjoy it ASAP (like, right now). Look for Hop Tanker on the shelf at your favorite beer-centric shop.