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a week before I went on leave, and then into self isolation, I found out from my chum and colleague S.o.J (that's the Sword of Justice - you need to pronounce the w, and everything) that this year's Hop City, had been cancelled. I can confirm that I personally have never managed to attend either this, or it's sister gathering Dark City, previously, so that is something I may have to attempt to achieve next year. In the meantime however, I recently discovered that during a moment of online uncertainty, or just happiness, I had purchased a can of the Northern Monk Hop City. That, alone, is one reason why I hope to attend very soon.....

Hop City is a frankly wonderful collaboration between hosts Northern Monk and other breweries to showcase and celebrate the wonderful choice of hops, and suppliers, in tasty brews. And this year's offering in no way disappointed.

The first thing I noticed on the back of the can was the name and logo of Yakima Chief Hops. As most of you will know this company, based in America (and I may be wrong but I suspect it's based in the West, although my brain states California, so am not sure) who supply, grow, research and release new and existing brands, of the wonderful ingredients in our luffly bowze. A recent Abbeydale beer featured HBC 472 and HBC 692 in their excellent Deliverance DIPA, and these are new brands, in terms of release at any rate, researched and released by Yakima Chief.

The three breweries collaborating were German Frau Gruber, and a brand I had never heard of before (accept on a Smashing Pumpkins album) that being Soma Beer, as well as another new (to me) enterprise called Popihn in France. With perhaps one or two too many sups in the past, I have to admit that it's very difficult to come across a collaborative brew where I have never previously heard of two of the three cohorts, and am pleased to report that this, as well as the amazing list of hops used, produced a fabulous beast of easy drinking hoppy delight.

Oh - and I should point out that it kicks in at 9.5%. It's described as a double dry hopped (DDH ) DIPA, and looking down at the mesmerising list of products used shows how appropriate the DDH aspect was. When I first started drinking in the 1990's I can confirm that almost all strong beer was brown or black, and anything pale was gruesomely sweet. Using such excellent ingredients, as well as the knowledge of all involved, completely removes any such fears.

The Hops used were HBC692 T90, Cyro Sabro, Cyro Citra, Sabro T90 and Citra and Simcoe T90. I wrote earlier in the year about my appreciation of Sabro as a hop ingredient, and have always loved Citra and Simcoe, but the combination of all six ingredients produced a simultaneously challenging (in a good way), and ultimately enjoyable, mass of hop bitterness and fruity flavours, rendering this output amazing. I am also aware that I may come across as somewhat easily swayed by "drinkability" but honestly, when you reach that strength and it's as refreshing as beers at 5 or 6%, then I have to say that is amazing.

Overall, whether you are searching for hops, bitterness, fruity citrus flavours or ease of drinking, then you will be very impressed by this brew, and that along with previous occasions of missing out, makes Hop City itself an ideal place to head to when ever it's next on.

In the meantime, your very best of health.


Wee Beefy