Knee Deep Brewing Company is a relative newcomer to the craft beer market, initially opening production in 2010 by contracting its brewing to Mt. Tallac Brewing in Lake Tahoe before opening its own brewery in 2011 in Lincoln, Calif. While initial distribution was limited solely to the Reno, Nev. area, Knee Deep has since expanded to sell their beer in California, Nevada, Arizona, Idaho and Ohio. With a relatively small line-up1 the majority of Knee Deep’s beers are hop-centric and over half of the year round offerings are some variant of an IPA. Of all its hop forward brews, perhaps the most highly regarded is the Hoptologist Double IPA.
Just from reading the label it’s abundantly clear that the Hoptologist is not messing around. 102 IBUs and a 9-percent ABV makes for a big IPA no matter how you slice it. I have to be honest, I had never heard of Knee Deep Brewing or the Hoptologist before my editor handed me a bottle and said “review this.” The bottom line is there are so many quality breweries putting out fantastic IPAs in smaller regions with limited2Or non-existent.] distribution that it is all but impossible to keep track of them all unless you do a lot of traveling or have a lot of fellow beer nerd friends scattered across the country. Either way, the hop fields are ripe for harvest if you know where to look, but I digress. Back to the beer at hand.
Hoptologist pours a hazy honey-gold into a tulip glass with a modest amount of head that gradually disappears into a slight layer of foam on the surface of the glass with a thing ring of bubbles around the rim. Several bubbles rise lazily to the top and a quick swirl brings some nice sticky lacing that slowly glides back into the beer.
The nose is sweet hop deliciousness and full of pine, lemongrass, and grapefruit. There’s a faint hint of the substantial alcohol content, but it’s not overwhelming and only noticeable if you’re really looking for it.
Now it’s business time. My first sip of Hoptologist is a fist-full of hop bitterness straight to the face. There’s a touch of sweet orange rind mid-palate before finishing with another round of bitter hops. The mouthfeel is chewy for an IPA which I contribute largely to the resinous hops being rounded out by a decent malt backbone. Carbonation is on the lighter side of medium and could honestly use a little boost, which is saying something when you consider that one of my biggest gripes in a beer is over-carbonation.