Now That's Some Weird, Wild Stuff
A Review of Hop Strike! by Tommyknocker Brewery
Posted on 6/25/2011 by Chops
Sometimes a beer can leave you speechless. Tommyknocker Brewery's Hop Strike is definitely one of those beers for me. This beer was the result of a dealer's choice at my favorite local pub. The pub owner knows that I like to review beers, so he will often hook me up with the weirdest beers he can find. I think it's as much fun for him to find oddball brews as it is for me to try them. And of course, it's completely hit or miss. Sometimes you find hidden gems. Sometimes you find horrendous interpretations. Hop Strike sits firmly in that central gray area of WTF.

First of all, the style really throws you off: a black rye IPA. It's hard enough to dissect black IPAs and now they are going to further define it through rye malt. And not only rye malt, but chocolate rye malt. This beer has you worried before you even pop the cap. Once in the glass, it has a deep brown coloration. Not quite black, but certainly is compared to average IPAs. Surprisingly enough, there is very little aroma to find. I was expecting this bad boy to be an aromatic assault, but not even close. I had to bury my nose in the glass to find much of anything. The two conclusions I could make were zero hop presence and smokey qualities. Weird.

Then came the first taste. Here's my advice for anyone tasting this beer for the first time: ignore the label. The first sip threw me for one hell of a loop. The first trait you notice is the mouthfeel. It's very, very chalky. It's a lot like the feel of cold black coffee. It's just gritty all around your mouth and is very unpleasant. Once you get past the first few sips, that grit starts to take the form of bitter chocolate, which I would assume is coming from the chocolate rye malt. Oddly enough, there are absolutely no IPA qualities to be found. I taste no hops anywhere on the flavor train. To be honest, it tastes more like an average coffee stout. I was really hoping it would warm a bit halfway through and soften up, but those core feels and flavors refused to go quietly.

Overall, Hop Strike is an okay beer. Fans of stouts and porters might find it interesting. Fans of rye ales or IPAs should probably pass it up. Novices should stay away completely, unless you're a big fan of gritty coffee-like feels and flavors. Hop Strike doesn't really work in any specific category, so I can't give it good marks. It's a pretty good experimentation beer, but that's about it. Just be sure to tackle it with an open mind.

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Hop Strike! by Tommyknocker Brewery
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