Event Recap: Hophead Heaven at the Publick House
Hophead Heaven at the Publick House
Saturday afternoon around 12pm, I took a deep breath and walked into the Publick House. Upon entering, I found it difficult to catch said breath, as I was almost positive that in the instant between leaving the sidewalk and entering the bar I had died and gone to Heaven - Hophead Heaven. And oh how glorious it was.
To describe this scene as a ‘Hophead Throwdown’ is an incredible understatement; to say that what took place this past weekend at the Publick House in Brookline was anything less than ‘Hophead Paradise’ or a ‘Hophead Head Explosion’ is totally downplaying the hop madness that was afoot. Certainly, the hops threw down, but they also mingled, explored, and blew any previous conceptions you held about the beauty that is hops out of the water. This was serious business.
I began my tour-de-hops with Founders Devil Dancer, an Imperial IPA boasting 12% ABV. This beer was served in a goblet/wine glass sort of thing and was strikingly red in color. It looked ok, and even smelled pretty good – fruity, citrusy hops and apple – but to me, the taste was just too much. The beer was extremely bitter, which was to be expected at an event like this, but not in a good way. The biggest issue I had with Devil Dancer was it’s syrupy, cloying texture/taste. Not up my alley for sure, but with an A- (excellent) rating on Beer Advocate, there’s clearly plenty of people out there who do like this. Check it out if you are into high alcohol IPAs and have at least one other person to split a 12oz with – this stuff hits hard.
Over the course of the afternoon, I also sampled Dark Horse Crooked Tree IPA (a tropical, citrusy and bright beer with a nicely balanced malt background) and Port Hop 15 (a super bitter brew with pine and citrus dominating, and a bright, crisp and dry mouthfeel). Though both of these beers were good – better than good, even – there is no question in my mind what the standout beer of the afternoon was: Wachusett Larry. This beer is perfect: super floral hops with fruity, tropical notes (my favorite kind!), balanced so well with a strong malt background – exactly how I like my IPAs. Larry is actually an Imperial IPA, but pulls off it’s 7.5% ABV extremely well. In the opinion of some, Larry compares well to Russian River Brewing Company’s Pliny the Elder, a famously perfect and difficult to attain Imperial IPA. Not having had the opportunity to sample Pliny for myself, I can’t weight in on that issue, but certainly recommend this beer as highly as they come.
Overall, I thought that the Hophead Throwdown was a fun experience and I enjoyed sampling the beers that I did. However, there were about 15 more IPAs on their draft list that I would’ve liked to try as well. The beers were served strictly in pints with no combinations of smaller sized samples available like there often are at many beer pubs and breweries. Taking into consideration as well how high in alcohol the majority of the beers were, there unfortunately was just no way to tackle a significant portion of the menu. A few beers I especially wished I had been able to try were the Smuttynose #@*! Clubber IPA, Berkshire Brewing Company’s North End Gwen, Cisco’s 15th Anniversary Ale and Mayflower’s Throwdown 3 IPA, all of which were brewed specifically and uniquely for this event.
One other thing I will say about this event is that the atmosphere kind of, well, sucked. Though it was a beautiful, sunny day outside, the inside of the Publick House was deeply in shadow, and though rather empty, it was super loud. Perhaps if I had gone in a larger group, it would have been a bit more festive. My disappointment is partly to do to my expectations – I had assumed that this event would be more like a beer festival, outside and designed to encourage mingling and less like a sit-down lunch in a restaurant. Despite the slightly subdued atmosphere though, this really was a fun day and I think that the beers speak for themselves. Now, go pick up a bomber of Larry and tell me what you think.
Anyone else attend the Hophead Throwdown at the Publick House last weekend? What did you think?
I’m just a girl who loves beer. I recently graduated from college with a BA in English and am now living, learning and drinking in the Boston Area. I enjoy going to beer festivals and I try to write about the majority of beers that I drink.
About the Hophead Throwdown
A benefit for the MS Society, the Hop Head Throwdown is a celebration of the hop and its palette-crushing power. We fill most of our 35 draught lines with some of the hoppiest beers we can get our hands on, several of which are crafted especially for this event. And we create a special menu of some intensely spicy food to pair with these aggressively hopped ales. Every penny of the $15 cover, as well as all proceeds from donated kegs go straight to the MS Society. So come on in, fill your belly, and feel good about yourself.
Draught lineup (partial list):
- Bear Republic Racer X
- Weyerbacher Double Simcoe IPA
- Moylan’s Hopsickle Imperial IPA
- Founders Devil Dancer
- Wachusett “Larry” Imperial IPA
- Green Flash West Coast IPA
- Dark Horse Double Crooked Tree
- Southern Tier Oaked Unearthley Imperial IPA
- Avery IPA
As well as special creations from Berkshire Brewing, Smuttynose Brewing, and Mayflower Brewing..