Guest Review: Head Hunter

Name: Head Hunter
Brewery: Fat Head’s Saloon & Brewery
Country of Origin: United States
City & State: North Olmstead, OH
Style: American IPA
Alcohol Content (ABV): 7.5%

Yeah, I know I went post crazy, but I’ve got exciting beer in.

I know I’m contributing to a West Coast based beer website, and, in my IPA post, I mentioned Fat Head’s Saloon & Brewery Head Hunter IPA. For those of you that don’t know or haven’t heard of it, they make great beer and have a wide network of distribution that includes most of Ohio and Western Pennsylvania. They have a production facility/brewpub in North Olmstead (suburb of Cleveland, Ohio) and Pittsburgh, PA. Up until the 2013 Great American Beer Festival, their most acclaimed beer was their Head Hunter IPA, a fruit monster if I’ve ever seen one. Now their Hop JuJu won a gold at GABF, and it deserves it. I had it last weekend, and it is perfect for anyone that likes a tropical/citrus fruit forward DIPA with a solid but not overpowering backbone. It leans toward the hops, which is kind of abnormal nowadays for a DIPA, but I digress.

I’m here to give the lowdown on Head Hunter. In terms of IPAs from Ohio, Head Hunter has a grandfather-type role. The Brew Kettle has White Rajah, Great Lakes Brewing Company has Lake Erie Monster, and Fat Head’s has Head Hunter. That is the paternal trifecta in Ohio IPAs. There are up and comers (Lagerheads High 5 IPA, Great Lakes Chillwave is getting national acclaim, Thirsty Dog Citra is exactly what you expect, 50 West Brewery in Cincinnati actually snuck into the top 3 at Ohio Brew Week with a combination of their PA and DIPA, and Portside Distillery & Brewery Man-O-War might be the best DIPA I’ve ever had – no exaggeration there; it was that good, all citrus fruits), but when you want an Ohio IPA, you stare at the former 3.

So now my thoughts on Fat Heads Head Hunter:

In the Glass: Honestly, it looks a lot like Foothills Jade. Straw yellow color with good clarity.

Nose: One word comes to mind: Pineapple. It just hits you straight away and leaves no room for doubt. It’s a hop bomb with lots bitterness yet the hop aromas to balance everything out. I get notes of that nice powdery, sticky sweet malt to make it palatable as well.

Flavor:  I’ve upgraded: Pineapple and mango. I know I’m a sucker for fruit-forward IPAs, and this is about right. Huge pineapple and mango notes just fly around trying to hide the underlying grassy and herbal notes. This might be the most complex hop profile I’ve seen. I’ve had this multiple times, but I’ve never sat down and analyzed each hop flavor.  It’s got everything but medicinal and earthy (thank God).

The malt bill is medium, but light enough to let the beauty of the hops show through. The bitterness really accents almost a powdery malt base. I think that’s the key here; they really figured out how to make this beer sweet, fruity, and bitter.

Mouthfeel: Herein lies the perfection of this beer: The carbonation. I never realized that I liked slightly under carbonated beers until just now. There’s definitely carbonation, but it doesn’t hide a thing. It just makes the hop flavors just pop. The medium body seems to hide a bit with the carbonation which makes it drinkable. Perfect mouthfeel, and I mean perfect. Wow.

Aftertaste: What lingers the most is the bitterness and sweetness. The fruit flavors linger for a second or two, then vanish like a ghost at sunrise. Bitterness stays around on the sides of my mouth while the sweetness coats the rest. Well done.

Rating: 4.9/5

OK, this beer. The hops are perfect and drinkability is scary. Isn’t that every beer-drinker’s dream? Alright, maybe that’s just mine. I love everything about this beer. How could it get better? Happy that you asked. I wish the fruit hop flavors would linger just a bit longer. Other than that, perfect. Absolutely perfect. Sticky sweet malt bill, huge hops, and drinkability of Guinness.
Final Thoughts: I want a case or two yesterday.

Well, that’s two posts in 24 hours. I’m going to take a few days off. I’ll get back to you with some thoughts on the craft scene in Texas – and of course some Texas beer reviews not from Jester King.

Cheers y’all. And as always, drink on.

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