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Sierra Nevada Hop Hunter uses hop oil to robust hop effect

Chicago Tribune
Put on the map by a lawsuit, Sierra Nevada Hop Hunter stands up to the scrutiny

What it is: In a crowded craft beer market, Lagunitas Brewing gave Sierra Nevada quite a gift earlier this year: free advertising. Lagunitas owner Tony Magee thought the label on Sierra's new Hop Hunter India Pale Ale veered a bit too close to his own IPA label, so he sued, claiming copyright infringement. Intense public backlash led Magee to withdraw the suit a day later, but the episode accomplished two things: It showed the degree to which craft beer is an ethos among its denizens, and it generated deep interest in Hop Hunter, Sierra's second year-round IPA. Just now arriving in Chicago, it turns out to be a beer worth whatever curiosity the lawsuit generated. The wrinkle: Sierra converts fresh hops into oil that is added to the finished beer, giving Hop Hunter a little extra hop oomph.

Alcohol (by volume): 6.2 percent

In the bottle: It's always worth considering a beer's aroma, but that's especially true of Hop Hunter. Open a fresh bottle and hops explode from beneath the cap: zesty, piney and bearing more than a passing resemblance to marijuana (based, of course, on how the smell of marijuana has been described to me — winky emoji). The hops, of course, are abundant in Hop Hunter, but what won me over about the beer is its phenomenally dry — and almost peppery — drinkability. Hop Hunter is ultimately crisp, satisfyingly bitter and surprisingly refreshing for an IPA. Hop Hunter is a relatively one-dimensional beer, but it's a satisfying dimension for hop lovers.

Drink it with: Hop Hunter is a relatively unfussy beer that deserves an unfussy meal, such as a brat or hamburger. IPA doesn't always make for an ideal food pairing, but Hop Hunter works quite well due to an effervescence that clears the palate, bold hops that add a pleasant flavor dimension and a dry finish that doesn't linger.

Find it: Available in six packs of 12-ounce bottles at better beer stores.

More information: sierranevada.com

jbnoel@tribune.com

Twitter @joshbnoel

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