O’so Brewing’s latest beer falls into the camp of “fuzzy” IPAs. A hefty dose of oats added to the grist combines with an assertive hop bill for a take on the IPA style that’s been growing in popularity, especially in the northeast. Hop Debacle offers lots of citrus aroma and flavor, with a very cloudy, almost hefeweizen-like appearance.
What is it? Hop Debacle from O’so Brewing of Plover.
Style: The India Pale Ale (IPA) emphasizes the bitterness of hops, which provide herbal, citrus and pine character to both aroma and flavor. IPAs are medium-bodied and often golden- to copper-colored. They range from 5.5 percent to 7.5% percent. An emerging cloudy twist on the style is generally credited to northeast/New England breweries, where IPAs are made with hops featuring strong citrus qualities and enough oats to create a cloudy appearance. For O’so Hop Debacle, roughly 20 percent of the grist is composed of oats, which makes it very cloudy.
Background: “The East Coast IPA is the fad right now,” says O’so owner Marc Buttera. His Hop Debacle just started appearing in Madison beer stores as the brewery’s new spring seasonal. It’s one of the most talked-about Wisconsin beers in social media over the past week. If it does catch on, Buttera’s challenge will be getting enough hops. Four varieties go into Hop Debacle: Galaxy, Citra, Denali and El Dorado. Buttera estimates about six pounds of hops go into every barrel produced. “We can’t get all those hops year-round, and they are very expensive,” he says. For this initial batch of Hop Debacle, Buttera ended up buying hops from brewing colleagues Ale Asylum in Madison and the Stevens Point Brewery.
Hop Debacle finishes at 5.8 percent ABV. It sells in six-packs of 12-ounce bottles for about $16. Because of that price, some liquor stores are offering it in single bottles (around $3/each).
Aroma: A burst of citrus hoppiness, especially orange, tangerine and grapefruit.
Appearance: Cloudy yellow with a thick, soft, white head.
Texture: Medium-bodied with a soft, round backbone.
Taste: Sharp, crisp citrus flavors of grapefruit, orange and hints of apricot, pineapple and pine.
Finish/Aftertaste: The citrus hoppiness is strong throughout, with a dryness that lingers.
Glassware: The Willi Becher with its inward flare at the lip is great to focus the citrus notes of the aroma, while showing off just how cloudy Hop Debacle is.
Pairs well with: A pub burger, especially a cheeseburger with well-aged sharp cheddar or pepper jack.
The verdict: This is a beer worth getting excited over. There’s huge hop aroma and flavor. Serve it very cold to accentuate the mixture of hops. The use of Denali hops, which is a new experimental variety sometimes called “Nuggetzilla,” lends hints of citrusy pineapple. While the hops make the flavor crisp and sharp, all the oats not only make it a very cloudy yellow beer but add softness to the body. Overall, there’s a citrus explosion, while the beer remains remarkably easy drinking at 5.8 percent ABV. Get it now and drink it immediately. Don’t even think about aging this one; you’ll want all those hop flavors and aromas while they’re at their peak freshness.