St. Louis brewery Perennial Artisan Ales, in collaboration with Chicago’s Hopleaf, created Hopfentea as a way to explore the overlap between beer and flowers, finding a common ground in tea. Hopfentea takes a traditional, low-gravity Berliner weisse and flavors it with fruits found in tropical tea punch. This is the kind of beer you’d be served by a shoeless bohemian in a new age spa—a spiritual sour sweetened with a rosy tincture, an intoxicant that tastes like it could detoxify.
Hopfentea looks like something you’d order off a Starbucks menu. It pours an earthy pink, the color of a hibiscus flower. A very delicate current of carbonation flows up the middle of the glass, building to a head that fizzes audibly.
Perennial’s aim is an unforgettable fragrance, and Hopfentea is its master work. This is a botanical garden in a glass. You can almost smell the pollen clinging to a crimson lily or the beads of rain falling from the petal of an African tulip. It’s an extraordinary experience underlined by a sugary sweetness that could pass for rum punch.
It tastes alive, utterly hopping with flavors you’d find in a cupboard of teas.”
Before hitting cans, Hopfentea was called “Tart Hopfentea,” and it’s clear why the brewery dropped the adjective. Hopfentea is indeed sour, but not in a way that would warrant the beer wearing that tag on its face. That’s enough to scare off the novices. Underneath the delicate pH is a sweet bouquet of apricot, guava, and raspberry. It tastes like a cool breeze on the Italian coast.
Hopfentea is a true beyond-beer experience. Throughout the tasting, you scarcely feel like you’re tasting something that’s been mashed, boiled, and fermented at all, but at the same time, there’s something so familiar and distinctly beer-y about it. It tastes alive, utterly hopping with flavors you’d find in a cupboard of teas. Drink and be restored.