Review: Friar Hop Ale, Samuel Adams

Friar Hop Ale

  • Style:  Belgian IPA
  • Bitterness:  Not provided
  • ABV: 9.0%
  • Malts:   Not provided
  • Hops:  Not provided
  • Sampled: 12 oz. bottle (provided by brewery)
  • Price:  $9.99 (six-pack) at supermarket

Description "Richard Roper’s Friar Hop Ale combines his love of hops with his affinity for spicy Belgian ales. To develop his recipe, Roper created a hybrid of two styles, uniting the big hoppy taste of an IPA with the spicy, fruity flavor of a Belgian. The toasty caramel sweetness from the malt and Belgian candi sugar mimics a Belgian ale, while the big citrus hop notes of an IPA balance the style. A spicy yeast fermentation and hints of orange and coriander round out the brew. Richard’s Friar Hop Ale is a refreshing beer that can be enjoyed any time of year." — Samuel Adams 

Random thoughts:   From my series on Samuel Adams Category 23 award winning homebrews.  I plan to taste Raging Bitch, another Belgian-style IPA as part of my IPAs Gone Wild! series.  The bottle is marked with an "enjoy before" date of September 2011.

The tasting:  Orange in color (crystal clear) with almost no head.  The shot below wast taken immediately after I poured it into the glass.  The color is unique, I don't recall seeing a beer that looks like this.   Very spicy aroma with notes of clove and coriander, as well as citrus hops, sweet malt, and alcohol.  It smells like a Belgian and nothing like an IPA, in my opinion.  Flavor of sweet malt, lots of fruit (apricot & banana), and clove.  Light bodied, with minimal carbonation, it has a very smooth mouth feel.  The 9.0% ABV is remarkably well masked. I tasted a bit of alcohol in the finish along with some sweetness and peppery spice.  Surprisingly drinkable for a 9.0% beer.  Be careful with this one!

Rating:  3 star.  Good.  I would drink this again if someone gave it to me.   I'm fairly new to Belgians, and plan explore the style by starting a Belgian review series within the next few weeks.  However, I've tasted a few in the past, and Friar Hop is a good representation of the Belgian style.  I really didn't get the IPA aspect of this beer.  I expect it was hopped at a higher level than most Belgians, but the spice and fruity characteristics dominated the hop characteristics.

Category 23 is a great way to sample three diverse styles in one six-pack.  Honey B's Lavender Ale is very unique, and Blackened Hops is a great Cascadian Dark Ale (or Black IPA).   Pick up a six-pack and try all three for yourself.  If you do, let me know what you think! 

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