It was nearly two years ago when I got a call from Phil, one of the owners of Brookeville Beer Farm, to stop by the brewery for a small gathering and sneak preview.
At that point, the brewing equipment was in place, christened with small batches, and the historic building’s renovation and construction were halfway completed. There was sawdust everywhere, and I sat on a stool at the unfinished bar near a pile of lumber. My companion next to me was a 12” chop saw, whose steely gaze and teeth contrasted with all the warm tans and browns of the reclaimed wood.
Even in its unfinished state, the place looked great and gave off a wonderful vibe. “Alright Phil – I’m ready for a beer. Whatcha got?”
As it turned out, it would be a couple more months before I could sit at that bar and drink one of Brookeville’s beers.
Three weeks ago, I stopped in for a quick beer on the way home, and realized that I was sitting in the same spot I had a couple years ago. But this time, the lumber was gone, and the intimidating chop saw had been replaced by Kenny, the friendly head brewer, who joined me for a pint after his shift.
The thing is, not only has the building transformed into something special, but so has Brookeville’s beers – the most recent of which is a Double IPA called Hop Envy.
It’s actually called a “New England” DIPA, which is a bit different than the current trend of “NEIPA” beers, which are opaque, fruity-tasting beers with the hoppy bitterness dialed down.
However, Hop Envy doesn’t fit that criteria. It’s actually a dark gold color that I’d consider to be slightly cloudy, rather than the orange-juice-esque aesthetics of so many NEIPAs these days. And with an alcohol content of 8% ABV, it’s higher than a lot of beers, but on the lower end for a double IPA.
The thing you notice right away is the aroma. There’s lots of great fruitiness that fills the air with a quick blast from opening the can. The taste definitely reveals the same story. There’s LOTS of fruit – grapefruit, orange, mango maybe? Then it’s combined with some nice sweetness from the malt. In fact, I’d almost describe the aftertaste as having a similarity to white wine or cider. There’s definitely a lot of hops going on, too, but it’s really not overly bitter. Kenny did a nice job of really bringing out several complex hops flavors without it tasting like you threw clippings from your backyard into a blender (as is so often the case with DIPAs).
Overall, this makes for a very smooth-drinking beer that’s full of flavor and won’t make you pucker from bitterness. Beer snobs will mark it down for the lack of “haziness”, and that’s fine. This beer is really something special that can be enjoyed by any IPA fan, particularly if you’re enjoying NEIPAs or any of the many “tropical”-labelled IPAs that have been appearing over the past year.
I’ve been told that a tweaked version of this is scheduled to be released soon in limited quantities, so if I can get my hands on some, I’ll be interested to see how that compares to the original.
Because if it’s better than this, I can’t wait to try it.