FOUNDED IN 1987, Anderson Valley Brewing Company may not be far off when they declare Hop Ottin’ to be the first West Coast IPA. The brewery certainly predates most other Californian IPA innovators like Lagunitas (est. 1993), Stone (1996), and Green Flash (2002). Sierra Nevada is older, of course, being founded in 1980, but didn’t actually release a year-round IPA until after the millennium (Torpedo).
Whatever the chronology, Hop Ottin’ remains a West Coast touchstone that puts a distinctive spin on the stereotype. Its hop array of Columbus and Cascade is unexpectedly simple but used to full effect. The former, more often used in a supporting or exclusively bittering role, is given more space to play here and delivers on the opportunity. Resinous, piney, and with a slight earthy must, the density of Columbus is only moderately countered by the lighter floral notes of Cascade. Wise, then, for the body to be so generous—unexpectedly so, in fact, with the pronounced grainy notes of Munich malt sitting atop a relatively full body of caramel sweetness. Very tight carbonation keeps the finish feeling a little drier than it probably ought, but a rather woody, somehow blocky sensation remains on the palate alongside a leafy and herbal lasting bitterness. Hefty at 78 IBUs and 7% ABV, Hop Ottin’ may not be elegant, but it handles its weight with aplomb.
Served: 12 oz bottle