Hop Head Red is an Amber Ale on paper, but it’s really a Red IPA. Following their standard procedure, this is available throughout the year in 4-packs for about $12. As you can see, they’ve updated the label, but the recipe was also slightly altered by increasing the dry-hopping, and raising the ABV by 1.1%. The nose is bursting with citrus-driven hops with notes of grapefruit, orange pith, and apricot. The herbal side comes across like grass, black tea with mint. Malts smell like sweet caramel.
The palate gives a combined dose of low-register malts, and high-register hops with suggestions of white grapefruit. Grainy sweet bread fills the middle right before the hops begin to escalate toward an edge of orange peel and spice. Oils deliver a well-maintained bitterness under flavors of peppermint and spruce. The mouthfeel is chipper and smooth, then leaves a little dry with little sign of alcohol. Drinkability is average.
Overall, I think it’s a good representation of this niche fusion style. The sweetness of the malts gives an agreeable amount of weight to properly counterbalance the hoppy bitterness. I suppose 8% is the tipping point between single and double, but this doesn’t quite reach imperial heights. This isn’t my favorite Red IPA, but I’ve reviewed it several times now, and it’s always interesting to revisit. The flavors are good, but I think it needs some work. If you would prefer more caramel sweetness in your IPA, I recommend it.
Hops: Columbus, Nugget, Amarillo
San Diego, California