From the Vault: Count Hopula

From the Vault: Count HopulaSanTan has launched a new series of beers. Named after the Valley National Bank’s iconic vault, which still remains, at SanTan Brewing Company’s downtown Chandler brewpub, this series will feature small batches with limited release beers. The first beer in that series is Count Hopula, a blood red IPA.

I had this beer a couple of years ago, but I don’t remember what it tastes like. Sheryl doesn’t like hops, but hopefully she will find something she likes in this review… Like a 9.1% ABV.

We spoke with Anthony Canecchia, founder and brewmaster at SanTan, about Count Hopula. “The 6-8 week aging process is essential for this series due to the high alcohol content. By slowing things down and allowing the yeast to slowly condition the beer we’re able to produce a strong but balanced southwestern style ale,” Canecchia said.

Name: Count Hopula
Brewery: SanTan Brewing Company
Country of Origin: United States
City & State: Chandler, Arizona
Style: American Double / Imperial IPA
Alcohol Content (ABV): 9.1%
First Brewed: NA
Price: $3.99

In the Glass: This is a lot darker than I expected. I mean, it is a blood red IPA… But this is so dark it might as well be brown! The beer does have a really nice thick head to it, and the lace is impressive. I need to interview a brewmaster and ask about the lace. Do you think a brewer things about those things as brewing the beer, or just let the ingredients control everything?

Excited to try this one. Cheers!

Nose: Wow. That is HOPPY! It smells like a glass full of hops. When I had this before, why didn’t I like it? Like you would know. Man, this smells delicious. For as hoppy as it smells, there is also a nice malty finish I am picking up. I am a big fan of a DIPAs, so here goes nothing.

I feel obligated to say it again…. Cheers!

Flavor: That is not as hoppy as I expected it to be. Granted, most beers in this style tend to be a bit more mellow and focus on a the balance rather than an explosion of hops. Which this beer does. It is quite balanced and is extremely mellow. I like that word… Mello.

The malts that I am smelling are definitely present, too. Not what I expected at all. Considering Sheryl doesn’t really like hops, I bet she likes this beer a lot.

Mouthfeel: The mouthfeel is incredible. If I was drinking this in a blind taste test, I wouldn’t think this was an IPA/DIPA at all. Not a stout, but maybe a double red ale, or something. There is very little carbonation, and it is easy to drink. Might be dangerous that it is so easy to drink being that high ABV. You would never know it was 9.1%. It’s that smooth.

Aftertaste: The hops are present, but I am more focused on the lingering almost sweet finish I am getting. Those malts are back, and the burb is almost a… Stay with me here. The burp tastes like a chocolate covered dark cherries that were mixed in a blender with fresh whole hop cones. Drink the beer and burp. You’ll understand!

I am really glad I got to try this beer again. I rated it a 3 on Untappd the last time I had it. This time, I am going 3.5/5… It’s better and I am digging the malty flavors I am picking up. That, and I am drinking/reviewing a beer at 10:30 in the morning! I’ll drink to that.

Looking forward to trying more from this series. Up next is a Winter Warmer.

Rating: 3.5/5

Sheryl’s Thoughts

I didn’t want to review this beer. I am just not in the mood for hops right now. But it actually does smell good. Maybe it will be so good that I will be in the mood for hops after all. It smells wet. Does that mean it is wet-hopped? I’m dumb when it comes to some of the terminology. There are probably some of you out there reading this thinking, boy is she stupid. But it smells exactly like wet hops smell to me, so that’s why I make that assumption.

The beer is very dark and thick. It’s not as dark as a porter or stout, but it still looks very dark brown, like a brown ale. It had a really thick head when poured into the glass, which has finally gone down some. Might be time to take a sip.

You know, surprisingly at first taste, this beer doesn’t have an immediate hop flavor to it. But then there is the aftertaste… there’s definitely some hops there. It feels like they are stuck to my tongue. This aftertaste will stick around for a while. It also tastes really hot. Man, that might be the most intense aftertaste I’ve ever had on a beer. It’s just a little too much for me though, I think.

The beer is more likable than I expected, since I’m not a huge hophead. But, that aftertaste just might do me in. It was a good one to try, and definitely impressive, but probably not one I’d buy again, just because it’s not my preferred style. But I can definitely see the appeal!

Rating: 3/5

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