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I recently stopped into Hoops Brewing to try a flight of beers with a few friends, Corey, Ryan and Chad. Ryan just turned 21 a few weeks ago, so this was his first experience trying a lot of varieties of beer at the same time. We each got five 5 oz drinks. I asked for their five most popular beers. This ended by being their sparkling ale, pale ale, guava wheat, pomegranate rye and chocolate oatmeal stout. Note this was only their most popular on tap right now; they are constantly changing up their beer selection giving the customer something new to try with each visit.
The sparkling ale is inspired by Australia beers of the 19th and 20th century. It is highly carbonated and sweet, but the sweetness is far from overwhelming. Corey and I agreed it reminded us of La Croix.
I had tried the pale ale not too long after they originally opened this past summer and honestly, it was so hoppy it hurt my face. I was a bit worried when I saw this was one of their top five, but I powered through. Maybe they changed their recipe or I’ve become more immune to hops, but this was not that bad. Their description is that it is hoppy without excessive bitterness and I definitely agree with that. And like most of their beers, it had a fruity taste and aroma to it.
The guava wheat I enjoyed a lot but it was definitely high on the sweetness scale. I failed to write down who said the following quotes, but these were the reactions from the table: “It tasted like a cheap cherry lollipop.” “It tastes like the best tasting cough syrup.” “If I wanted to drink a girly drink without my bros knowing, I would chose this.” Whatever. I enjoyed it.
I’ve had rye beers before and the pomegranate rye doesn’t taste like them. The group consensus was that it really just tasted like pomegranate. It’s sweet, mild, and drinkable.
The oatmeal stout was very chocolatey, robust and full-bodied, as the description states. It is very dark and a little hard to drink if you’re not used to it. But if you are used to dark beers, there is a lot of flavor to enjoy here. Chad commented this was the chocolatiest stout he’s ever had.
I also tried the cream ale, which was creamy and delicious. The Vienna-style lager was probably the closest to in flavor to what you would often expect a regular beer to taste like. The Keller pilsner we found to be fruitier than the average pilsner. Chad said of the porter, “I thought it was excellent. It’s got a toasty caramel taste to it.”
So what beers were our favorites? Ryan liked the cream ale, Chad liked the porter and Corey liked the pale ale. I actually think my favorite was one I had later while interviewing a bartender, the common ale. It was a very smooth, rich tasting amber.
Something that impresses me extensively about Hoops is that it has so many beers. They have 30 tap lines allowing for 30 different beers to be served at once. When I was there this past weekend, they had 25 on tap. They are constantly rotating beers in and out. This shows that brewmaster Dave Hoops is a master of the craft. A lot of breweries get their certain recipes down and they run with them forever and that is great, but Hoops takes it a step farther. He is creative enough and knowledgeable enough to create the recipes for dozens of beers, and to make each one unique and delicious.
The tap room is located in Canal Park. Immediately you can tell everyone there is having a good time. There is music playing, TVs on, a ton of board games and tables. You can sit at the bar or a server can help you at your table. I noticed every time I’m there that it is really common for people to get several 5 oz beers. Another unique thing about Hoops is that you can choose what size and glass type you would like your beer to come in.
I certainly understand why this is called a destination brewery. It is a place for people who love beer. It is a place that truly embraces beer and everything that it can be. Hoops steps up the craft beer game.
Special thanks for Ryan Pavlich, Corey Cusick, and Chad Dachel for drinking beer with me.