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Try-It Thursday

November 27, 2014

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Feral Brewing Company, Swan Valley, WA

Feral Hop Hog

5.8% American Style Pale Ale

It’s pretty difficult to showcase an award-winning beer each week and ignore this beauty for too long. Acknowledged by fellow brewers, beer judges and the general public to be one of the finest local examples of the classic American Pale Ale style, Hop Hog must have a room of its own somewhere in the Baskerville brewery complex for its many awards.

Ignore the constant argument as to whether it’s a hoppy malt-driven Pale or a perfectly balanced India Pale Ale (even Ferals’ website says IPA while the labels on the bottles say Pale) and let the beer sing its own tune for you alone. Here’s how brewer Brendan Varis describes the beer;

Matt might have a shiny trophy on his mantle but I have this poster on my dunny door.

Matt might have a shiny trophy on his mantle but I have this poster on my dunny door.

“Get a good whiff of this Feral Brewing Co beast that explodes with citrusy flavours and hop aromas rounded out with a solid malt backbone. A farmload of American hops makes Hop Hog a uniquely Feral brew…and just a little fruity.”

The Beer Diva, Kirrily Waldhorn on her Beer Style website nails the sense of excitement mixed with hesitation leading to the first sip;

“It’s that feeling when you slide into the worn red leather seat, the butterflies, the anticipated exhilaration. It’s that first time on a rollercoaster, knowing it’s going to be incredible yet still filling you with terror. It’s all about the excitement, the removing yourself from your sensible comfort zone and that’s exactly what Feral Brewing Company‘s Hop Hog does. There is nothing undomesticated about this highly coveted American style India Pale Ale (IPA). Instead you are rewarded with an absolutely exhilarating ride, with each turn offering impeccable, in your face, fresh, piney, citrus-laced hops which are faultlessly matched at the next turn with sweet, mellow caramel maltiness. Enjoy this thrill a minute beer, this is one ride you’ll be racing back to the front of the queue to experience again and again.”

James Smith over at The Crafty Pint says;

“A beer that needs no introduction to lovers of Aussie craft beer. Champion Ale at the 2009 Australian International Beer Awards, the Hop Hog is a superb recreation of the IPAs that originate in the Pacific Northwest of the US. Massive pine needle and citrus aromas waft from its glowing copper-orange body, with the hops also supplying a seriously impressive bitterness, all kept in check by the perfect malt backbone. Finally put into bottles in 2010, it’s becoming ever more widely available for Aussies in search of a big but balanced hop hit.”

Luke Robertson at Ale of a Time pondered back in 2012 about mates and conversion;

“I know the stereotypical Australian man drinks watery beer while eating meat pies and watching the footy, but f@#k that. Next time your mates are over for ‘the big game’ break out some Hop Hogs, some good spicy sausage, salami and cheese and everyone will be a lot happier… except for that guy that says “it’s a bit weird, got any Carlton Draught”. But that jerk complains at everything so who cares what he says.”

Not just a regular in The Critics’ Choice – Australia’s Best Beers, but the anchor holding down the end of the book where the Top 3 are housed, Hop Hog has proven to be a classic of rare proportions. See if you can spot the change in style as the years go by!

Number 3 in 2011 (beers of 2010) behind Stone & Wood Pacific Ale and Little Creatures Pale Ale.

“Armed only with a tiny brewhouse, a shed full of barrels and an alchemist’s touch, Feral’s Brendan Varis is blazing an incendiary trail for better Aussie beer. On a roster overflowing with inspired inventions, the Hop Hog still stands out – an American IPA the Yanks would happily call their own.” (James Smith)

Number 1 in 2012hog 01

“Awards and accolades and the praise of beer lovers across the country shower down upon this beer which is a consistent Top 10 performer. It’s lucky its brewer is such a humble and unassuming bloke for, if his head were allowed to swell in harmony with the quality of his beer, he’d not fit it inside his tiny brewhouse.”

Number 1 (again) in 2013hog 02

“Can’t. Find. Words. It’s all been said so many times before. Best beer again. Perfectly balanced, hoppy and fresh, firm bitterness and a pleasing dry finish. Champion Ale, Champion Ale again, Critics’ Choice #1 last year. How’s that? Can I go and get one for myself now?”

Number 1 (again, again) in 2014

“The last time I wrote about Hop Hog, my words ended up in print advertising for the beer so best I take care here. Best in The Critics’ Choice Top 100 again. Again. Throw in a few Best in Show awards at the AIBAs and, really, what’s left to add? So much flavour, so beautifully balanced; it must be why God gave hog 03us tastebuds. That should fit on a billboard, eh?”

As reported above, Hop Hog has also fared reasonably well in the Australian International Beer Awards collecting Champion Ale and Champion Beer two years running back in 2011 and 2012. Changes to the Style Guidelines saw Hop Hog entered into the Pale rather than IPA category where, while conceding the trophy to various other beers since, it continues to medal.

Fun Fact; Hop Hog’s ‘little brother’, The Runt, a 4.7% sessionable version of the Hog picked up Champion Ale for Feral in the 2010 AIBAs as well.

Feral Brewing Co website

Beer Style

Ale of a Time

The Crafty Pint

[footnote – if any readers have a beer they think deserves a Try-It Thursdays spot, or if you know of someone who writes beautiful words about Australian Beers (not necessarily beer reviews as such) please contact me at Brews News.]

[footnote – P.S. Matt, what’s my email address for Brews News?]




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