Burn, Burn, Yes Ya Gonna Burn
A Review of Hop Burn High by Mikkeller
Posted on 2/18/2012 by Chops
Better beer fans are explorers at heart. And much like true explorers, our new treks are always exciting and we regularly revisit rewarding locations. But the longer you explore, the less there is to see and explorers can quickly become bored or complacent. In the world of better beer, this is a phenomenon called “drinker's fatigue”. You have reached a point where you know what the best of the best tastes like, your palate has been sharply honed, and even your regular selection can seem dull. During this most troubling of times, many beer fans turn to one man for help: Mikkeller, Denmark's mad gypsy brewer. You may or may not like his whimsical creations, but they are all guaranteed to challenge your senses. I recently had the pleasure of battling yet another Mikkeller brew potion: the Hop Burn High Imperial IPA.

In the glass, this beer has a semi hazy coppery orange coloration. It comes with a creamy white head that dissipates at a reasonable pace. The aroma is where things start getting interesting. It has a piercing piney citrus smell that comes across as spicy hot, almost like a blackened orange or cooked pine resin. It's a nostril burner, so proceed with caution. Coupled with what I know about Mikkeller, I had to properly brace myself going into that first sip.

Good thing I was sitting down because the hop profile damn near punched a hole in the back of my throat. To say this beer is aggressive would be a gross understatement. It's a relentless assault of sharp spicy hops, so much so that it actually feels hot in your mouth (which I would assume is where the name comes from). As core flavors go, it's a simple citrus base of mostly orange and grapefruit. The mouthfeel is extremely harsh as the hops latch onto every inch of your mouth with an iron death grip. Oddly enough, the mouthfeel starts off quite smooth for the first few seconds, which I would imagine is the time it takes for your brain to return “WTF” to your taste buds. From then on it's a hop juggernaut through the finish, which is very dry, very bitter and insanely long. The harsh bitter aftertaste stays with you for quite some time, so best to make peace with it. In fact, it's so potent that your brain forces you to get used to it.

Overall, Mikkeller's Hop Burn High Imperial IPA is a vicious brew that only a select few beer drinkers will appreciate. Hop heads will adore this beer as a monstrous delight. Aside from that group, I can only recommend this beer to seasoned drinkers with a honed imperial palate, and even in those hands it's a beast. Everyone else should probably avoid this beer altogether. Trust me when I say that you're not ready. It's just too aggressive to properly appreciate and you'll end up wasting a Mikkeller brew, which is a grave sin to the almighty beer gods. Hop Burn High is a beer you drink when you've grown to appreciate the various nuances of imperial IPAs. And even at that point, this beer will show you that you can still be surprised.

And speaking of burn, I thought it was only appropriate to close this review with a little old school Rage. Burn, burn, yes ya gonna burn!

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Hop Burn High by Mikkeller
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