Review: Hop City Brewing Co. - Hopbot IPA

With a name like Hopbot, a beautiful yellow can with a kickass robot on it, and a brewery like Hop City, how could I resist picking up a couple cans of this IPA when I saw it at my local LCBO over the weekend?  The answer is simple: I couldn't.  When my love for robots, cool artwork and branding, and craft beer all collide I have what is called a nerdgasm.

Let's chat a little about Hop City before we have a taste of the Hopbot.  These guys already have some great selections at the LCBO in Barking Squirrel (a solid, solid amber lager) and 8th Sin (one of my favorite go-to black lagers.)  Both are quite reasonably priced and have solid branding (honestly, who doesn't love that squirrel?)  Now my fellow veteran craft beer lovers will already know this, but for the budding craft beer enthusiast you should know that these guys aren't exactly a craft brewery as you or I would define it, they are owned by Moosehead.  Despite that they maintain a great microbrewery feeling and put out some solid products, so who cares if they're owned by one of the big guys?

Alright, enough chitter chatter, let's get at 'er.

This IPA pours a hazy golden copper with fluffy white head that has good retention and light lacing.  All in all, a very appealing start.

The aromatics on this are quite mind blowing.  Huge, HUGE citrus in the nose, mostly grapefruit from what I can smell.  There's definitely a resin pine undertone there mixed with some caramel and toasted malt.  And do I get a hint of peppery spice from the yeast there too?  Even more appealing, I can hardly hold myself back from gulping it down.

And why would I hold myself back?  As I dive in, the first thing that I get is balance.  Everything just blends together and creates a hoppy, malty, spicy, citrusy melange that just works really, really well.  It takes a few sips (gulps) to really dissect what's going on with this beer.  With that balance there's a fair complexity that I just wouldn't expect.  First I get some of that piney-ness from the nose, then some of the pepper and that caramel maltiness, chased down by that big grapefruit citrus and hop bitterness which dries out the mouth quite nicely.  There's a little alcohol burn in the middle of all that (oh, did I mention this puppy is a huge 7.1% ABV?  yeah, sorry... maybe I should have said that sooner...) but not nearly what I would expect for such a high ABV.  The mouthfeel is smooth and creamy, although the carbonation leaves a little to be desired.

Overall, this IPA crushes it, much like I crushed it.  Crushable.  It's a term.  Well, maybe not really, but we use it as an alternative to sessionable.  Because it sounds cooler.  So yeah, crushable, but also scary given the alcohol content.  DO NOT buy a dozen of these for a backyard BBQ because although it is a great well-balanced IPA, that ABV will sneak up on you and your significant other will find you passed out, face down under the deck with one shoe on your hand, your shirt missing, and your head resting on a half eaten burger as a pillow.  DO buy a few cans and enjoy responsibly, because this is a great IPA.  Seriously though, Hop City and their Hopbot IPA do not disappoint.  Find their 473mL cans at an LCBO near you.

-James