image of The Ram's Restaurant & Brewery sourced from FindTheBest.com. Click on the image to go there now. Every once in a while this writer cannot help but promote a brewery or brewer, even when their beer is draught-only. This time around it’s Bighorn Brewing’s Z.Z. Hop Double India Pale Ale.

Promoted to 'wish you were here’ status, this beer was (some say) conceived and brewed by the late Jim Quilter, at the University Village Ram / Bighorn Brewing location. Perceived as an India Pale Ale by many, we decided to judge it as such.

Brewery Description

  • Malt: Pilsner, Kiln Amber, Wheat
  • Hops: Chinook, Columbus, and Simcoe
  • ABV: 8.00%
  • IBU: Approximately 80

Suggested Style Guidelines from the Brewers Association

Imperial or Double India Pale Ales have intense hop bitterness, flavor and aroma. Alcohol content is medium-high to high and notably evident. They range from deep golden to medium copper in color. The style may use any variety of hops. Though the hop character is intense it’s balanced with complex alcohol flavors, moderate to high fruity esters and medium to high malt character. Hop character should be fresh and lively and should not be harsh in quality. The use of large amounts of hops may cause a degree of appropriate hop haze. Imperial or Double India Pale Ales have medium-high to full body. Diacetyl should not be perceived. The intention of this style of beer is to exhibit the fresh and bright character of hops. Oxidative character and aged character should not be present.

Our Thoughts
You Should Try It. Despite the namesake host and the connotations that come along with a so-called franchise brewpub, ZZ Hop is treat for someone needing something a bit stronger than their Big Red India Pale Ale. Hat’s off to Kevin Forhan for upping the wattage in hops, while maintaining the balance. For those feeling peckish we suggest pairing this with a salted pork sausage, smoked game bird, or some sharp (blue cheese) or funky cheeses.

image of Big Horn ZZ Hop in an Mug Club mug courtesy of our Flickr pageOn draught, Z.Z. Hop appears cloudy with a very IPA-esque hue of rustic gold. Poured straight down into the glass, the beer produces over two inches of head before settling. Over time this cap of foam dies leaving a skeleton of antique lace behind, demonstrating the strength of this beer.

Taking the first whiff there is an evident, almost dank aroma, of pine, cooking spices, and a bit of grapefruit citrus. Further analysis allows for recollection of sweet breadiness.

Taking that first sip is immediately rewarded by a punch of grapefruit citrus, pine, cooking spices, and what can only be described as cannabis. Overall ZZ Hop has a medium to strong mouth feel and there is a definite alcohol burn. It's important to note there is a definite balance to this beer, despite the 8.0% Alcohol by Volume tag.

Just don’t ask Regional Brewery Operations Manager Dave Leonard or Northgate Brewer Kevin Forhan where to find this ‘IPA’ around town. They will only inform you that their Northwest Imperial Pale Ale (as they have called it) can only be found at the Northgate location.

Cheers

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