Haze has overtaken the IPA. Anything north of 7% in IPA world is coming out juicy, cloudy, and all New England. Sierra Nevada says to hell with all that with their double IPA Hop Bullet. Although the California brewery had success with haze, its true calling has always been the piney West Coast IPA. Hop Bullet is not a return to form. It’s retaliation. It’s 12 oz. of ammunition against the haze bombs that have freckled the battlefield. It might not be enough to win the war, but the beer proves that Sierra Nevada’s stand is worth making.
I would hesitate to call Hop Bullet “clear.” Plenty of light gets through the beer’s hazel body, but there is a syrupy obscurity to it. Looking through it is like seeing the world through smudged sunglasses. A formidable, two-finger head builds at the top, a trademark of Sierra’s prowess with the IPA style.
Sierra Nevada claims that Hop Bullet was created by “hitting the beer with a double-barreled blast of Magnum hops and lupulin dust,” which is an intense way of describing adding concentrated hop flavor to beer. But the rhetoric makes sense once you get a whiff of Hop Bullet in the glass. It’s an assault of resinous hops, matched with the sweet, rye-like character of the five-malt blend in the beer. A huge precedent for the flavor to live up to.
Aggressively bitter and ostentatiously boozy, Hop Bullet takes no prisoners in reasserting hop bitterness.”
The lupulin dust gives Hop Bullet an unexpected burst of grapefruit and tangerine up front, but those citrus notes are soon bested by the darker, danker flavors. This is a whole pine forest, a double IPA that tastes double bitter.
Sierra Nevada’s purpose is renewed with Hop Bullet, an absolute showcase of West Coast dankness. There are shades of Celebration here, but this double IPA is a grade above anything else Sierra has brandished before. Aggressively bitter and ostentatiously boozy, Hop Bullet takes no prisoners in reasserting hop bitterness, and its peers on the East Coast should take notice.