Welcome to Thirsty Thursday, a weekly column where we pick a beer from our fridge and review it, because in a world where two new breweries launch every single week, sometimes we need some help sifting through all of the hops.
About two weeks ago, I was in a New Jersey beer store looking for something just a little different from the Pennsylvania-based stuff I tend to gravitate towards. Sifting through the state’s more well-established names, I found a Galaxy hop-based beer from a brewery I’ve heard whispers about, as it begins to infiltrate my area. I’ll try anything brewed with my favorite hop, so I grabbed a four-pack of Departed Soles Brewing Company’s Honey Hop: Galaxy.
Founded in Jersey City in 2015 by Brian Kulbacki as a way to honor a friend – and fellow beer enthusiast – who had passed away in a car accident years earlier, Departed Soles takes pride in a very diverse tap list, with a spotlight on gluten free beer. Kulbacki actually became the first brewer in American Brewers Guild history to focus on that specific style and all of the offerings are listed on Departed Soles’ website under two categories: Gluten Free and Definitely Not Gluten Free. With one year-round gluten free effort, GoodbIPA: Four My Homie and a slew thrown into seasonal rotation, there’s plenty of options for those looking to steer clear of the wheat protein. As far as the other category goes, there are five year-round beers and a ton of rotating stuff, including Trash Can Banger IPA which received national attention for trolling the Houston Astros’ recent scandal, and it can kind of be hard to keep up with what the brewery is releasing.
And they have no issue throwing pop culture references in their names – and I love that.
Honey Hop: Galaxy is a 5.1 percent ABV, Double Dry-Hopped IPA that highlights the flavor of its namesake hop. First brewed several years ago as a lighter alcohol Session IPA, it proved challenging to find additional information on this beer, like the hop and grain bills as well as a breif summary. Honestly, I’m not entirely sure how long this beer was sitting on the shelf. I began to drink the four-pack I bought before checking and the can I reviewed didn’t have it stamped on the bottom – but knowing the store I got it at, it wouldn’t have spent much time sitting there and just wasting away on the shelf.
The label design for Honey Hop certainly caught my eye. With a vibrant golden color, it features a man with a luscious red beard coming out of a pool of honey with a honeycomb look around the can. Think Bo Derek in 10 or Tommy Boy. The only problem I have with it is there’s no explanation of what I’m about to drink, despite giving both the ABV and IBUs, or what ingredients were used. I’m a beer nerd and something as simple as that tends to make me appreciate a packaged beer just a little more.
When I cracked it open, I immediately went in for the nose. What I got was a noticeable tropical aroma, with hints of pineapple, peach and some citrus – along with a surprising touch of booze. I wouldn’t say it was the best smelling IPA I’ve ever had but it certainly got me to want to take a sip but first I had to pour it into my IPA glass. That is where this beer definitely shined the most. It poured a hazy golden color, mimicking the label, while offering a wealth of head, to the point I had to slow my pour down a little to ensure there wasn’t much more than three fingers worth. A perfect pour on this one would leave you wanting to share it with everyone on your friends list.
The taste was a little lackluster, however. I’ve had a ton of beers that make the Galaxy hop the focal point and Honey Hop just didn’t offer that same tropical vibrancy I’m used to enjoying. It certainly wasn’t bad by any means but nothing to write home about, with a fair tropical taste in the beginning, evoking the flavors brought about by the nose, while a bitterness on the back-end started off less than stellar but actually became even more drinkable the more sips I had. Honey Hop has a medium mouthfeel and is carbonated well, with a lacing that hangs in there all the way to the end. I just think it missed the mark for a beer that showcases the trendy, and popular, Australian hop.
After some rooting around on BeerAdvocate, I found that Honey Hop is basically a ghost with only one review on there, so I’m going to just throw that out the window this week. I would give it a 6.2 out of 10, because there’s nothing truly memorable or above average about this beer. I had three during a Zoom happy hour and it was certainly more drinkable as I went on, so there is maybe a slight underlying drinkability factor. Having said that, I’d definitely try something else from Departed Soles, because I think Kulbacki knows his stuff, like their recent TMNT-inspired Casey Cones Strawberry Vanilla Milkshake IPA or the Rick and Morty-inspired Wubba Lubba Dub Double IPA, which looked amazing.
Stay tuned next week, because I might try something from your favorite brewery.