Hopzeit Autumn IPA
Fall can be fleeting. In Michigan – as schizophrenic as any state when it comes to the weather on a daily or even hourly basis – it can be especially short. People always seem to be clamoring for longer, lazy summer months, so a descent into a seemingly endless winter courtesy of a short-lived fall can be especially unkind.
This year, temperatures were still hovering in the 70s and 80s in October in the Great Lakes State. It doesn’t quite feel like it is time to transition from drinking IPAs, goses, and wheat beers to pumpkin beers, Märzens and stouts (although any Michigan day can turn into a stout kind of day without warning if the sun is hidden for an extended period of time). Deschutes’ Hopzeit, an Autumn IPA, offers a solution for those looking to ease into fall coming off a summer of juicy, bitter thirst-quenchers.
As someone who looks forward to pairing a Märzen with a cool, crisp evening each year, Hopzeit is an intriguing endeavor. Märzens are enjoyable, but given a lineup of the style, I doubt I would have many varying opinions. While trying to avoid sounding pretentious, it’s a style I love, but on rare occasions have I picked up too many subtleties among the countless options I’ve come across. Most are sweet and crisp, with notes of caramel and toffee.
Forgive me for not finding anything deeper than that.
Grab a single to tide you over for those in-between days bouncing between sunny warmth and the inevitable gloom of winter.”
Aiming to put a twist on a traditional Märzen without becoming a pumpkin-spiced abomination (a SayNoToPumpkinBeer hash tag accompanies its description), Hopzeit folds some herbal hops Herkules, Sterling and Hull Melon into the nuttiness you might expect from an Oktoberfest or brown ale.
Hopzeit definitely looks the part of a summer-fall mashup – it pours a cloudy dark orange and ushers in bitter hops on the nose. The initial impression on the mouth takes a turn for the uninspiring with a sweet but reserved malt that doesn’t make leave much of a memory. The lasting bitterness on the finish doesn't complement the Märzen-inspired malt enough and leaves to the two sides playing tug-of-war instead of working hand-in-hand.
The beer is a solid but ultimately unsatisfactory hoppy Märzen stuck in no man’s land. The pairing of hops and classic Munich, Vienna, and Pilsner malts are a fine compromise on paper and work okay enough together, but it still leaves you wanting either a regular, maltier Märzen or a perhaps a wet-hopped IPA. To make this a standout is a surely a tricky line to walk, but it’s a half measure, Breaking Bad-style – an option that sounds like a fine solution, but isn’t forceful enough.
Hopzeit is a good change of pace, but it's just that. It likely won’t be a go-to fall beer that moves ahead of the traditional fall-time brews. If you're tired of a pumpkin brew or Oktoberfest, by all means, it's worth trying. But grab a single if you can, enough to tide you over for those in-between days bouncing between sunny warmth and the inevitable gloom of winter, and sometimes fall.