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A trip to the Grove yesterday proved it to be a real Mecca for the hop enthusiast. Trouble was you had to like you beers strong as well. It was pointless trying to work out a beer of the day but if you were willing to go strong you were rewarded with some real hop classics.

To start with the weakest first. Durham provided ' On The Hop' which came it at a sensible 4.2%, and proved that the brewery has not lost its knack of making quaffable, light beers. This was just as one would expect from them, rounded, clean and with a hoppy kick. Nothing too excessive, but a decent beer from a good brewery.

That's when it started to get a bit silly. Next on the bar in the hop stakes was Oakleaf 'IPA' which was 5.5%. The increase in strength was more than matched in the increase in hoppiness and bitterness and was close to what, in my opinion, a true IPA should taste like. Not a 3.9% watered down version but a beer that deserved respect. Could anything else on the bar match this ?

Well, yes and no. The next up in strength was Thornbridge 'Halcyon' at 7.7% making a reappearance at the pub after a month or so. Again we were rewarded with a beer of great hop flavour, and full of interesting fruit background with grapefruit and mango to to the fore. Incidentally I never saw the pump clip so I am unsure if this is 'Halcyon' or the 2009 'Green Hop Halcyon' .

By now, strength was no problem and to finish (me) off, my last choice was Dark Star, 'Tripel' at a mere 8%. I don't know how they do it, but like Thornbridge, every Dark Star beer seems to be to my taste and this was no exception. It was a great take on a Belgian Tripel and full of resinous hop flavours and I assume brewed with a Belgian yeast to give an authentic flavour. Another great beer.

In addition I left Brewdog 'Punk Ipa', not exactly shy on the hop front and Thornbridge 'Jaipur' with its wonderful array of hop flavours.

So, if you are a hop monster, may be its time to pitch a tent in the beer garden at the Grove and get stuck in while you can.