With all of the heavily hopped American beers out there we are spoiled for choice with beers that will literally sucker punch our taste buds. Sometimes the subtlety is lost in these beers, certainly lots fail with balance and technicality but not so with Southville Hop.
Anyone who has read my review of Bristol Beer Factory’s Milk Stout will know what I think of their brewing, skill is applied and character is achieved, so it should not have been a surprise when I first tried Southville Hop and not only found that it ticked all the boxes but that there was something just a little bit special about the beer.
The nose is a wealth of fruits with passion fruit and a slight citrus maybe even lime note. The initial taste is the promised citrus and loads of bitter grapefruit, the hops which are present throughout take over to the end with something like fresh grass and more of the ever present grapefruit. Although very hoppy this does have some malt to balance it, not perfect but with this amount of hops it would have been near impossible to do so.
As a beer Southville Hop will not be for everyone, but as heavily hopped beers go this will suit those who like the grapefruit taste explosion normally found in the American style IPAs. At 6.5%ABV you wouldn’t session this beer and I think it is best enjoyed as a one off when you really want to taste some hops. The only problem might be that other beers will taste pretty bland after this one.
I have not been lucky enough to try Southville Hop off the tap but I would expect it to be slightly different – just like other bottle conditioned IPAs the bottle and tap both have slightly different characters. I will be looking out for this one on my trips to Bristol. The bottled beer won SIBA south west bottled beer 2011 and I think it was well deserved.
As with all hoppy American style IPAs this beer is best served lightly chilled, the usual care to not over chill is probably less problematic (subduing the hops in this would be an achievement) but to get the best out of the intoxicating nose of this beer careful serving would be beneficial and would give an extra level of enjoyment.
My only thoughts with Southville Hop is the strength, as with similar beers it is not the weakest of styles and this restricts how many you can enjoy. But every beer has it’s place and this one is a “sipping on a sunny evening” kind of beer.
If you are lucky enough to live in or neat Bristol then you can buy direct from the Bristol Beer Factory or Southville Hop is available from many of the online retailers and in the area around Bristol. The Bristol Beer Factory website has a list of pubs which stock their beers.