ipaAnderson Valley Brewing Company is a California brewery that has recently made its way to Kansas. I first heard about AVBC a few years ago on Craft Beer Radio, but this is my first time getting to try the company’s beer. The brewery is located in Boonville, about 115 miles north of San Francisco. The people of Boonville have their own dialect, called “boontling.” Hop Ottin’, in boontling, means, “hard working hops.” According to legend, the boontling language came about so that people in the area could talk freely about their marijuana crops without the fear of being overheard by the wrong people. Coupled with the fact that AVBC is solar-powered, you can start to see where the company’s obsession with the hop cone (cousin to other Cannabis varieties rumored to grow in the area) becomes more clear!

I drank this beer from an English style pint glass (you know, the kind Guinness is often served in with the bulge 3/4 of the way up the glass) out of a 22oz bomber bottle. My bottle was a gusher! I lost several ounces in the eruption of foam from this bottle. Consequently, it had pretty light carbonation, but I don’t know if that was from the loss of a lot of carbonation or if the beer is supposed to be that way. Luckily I bought a 6-pack of the same beer today, so I should get plenty of chances to figure it out!

The beer pours a nice dark orange/amber color that is a little cloudy and with a nice head that dissipates pretty quickly. Aroma is of nice, citrusy hops, leaning more toward grapefruit and away from the stickier, pinier aromas I’ve been detecting lately.

The first thing that struck me about this beer is what a nice mouthfeel it has. Nice and smooth, very little carbonation (which I actually usually like). The lower carbonation (again it could be by accident) gives this beer a nice, firm, solid body that is really a joy to drink. The aroma and the flavor are very similar, in my opinion. The hops are very forward, but balanced by a big malt backbone. Unlike the Boulevard Single-Wide I’ve been writing a lot about recently, the bitterness on the Hop Ottin’ doesn’t build. Within 30 seconds of a sip my palate is pretty much unencumbered, but it isn’t flat or weak by any stretch.

Of the IPA’s I’ve been drinking lately this is by far the best balanced. The malt really holds back the hops and works well with them, while the nice body and mouthfeel make this beer go down really smooth. This is an exceptional drinker for an IPA and I think it would make a pretty good gateway beer for someone who is unsure about IPA’s, bitterness, etc. Fantastic and I am glad I invested the $11 in a 6’er of this today, too!

Edit: added minutes after posting… It struck me as I was refilling my glass that this beer tastes really familiar to me. A few months before I moved from Michigan to Kansas City one of my favorite bars got “Stone IPA” on tap. I don’t know which beer it was, but Hop Ottin’ reminds me a lot of that beer in the flavor. The Stone was definitely more in-your-face and not balanced like AVBC’s, but the hop flavors seem really similar to me.