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.
If you live in the northeastern United States and you’re any type of wannabe beer snob, there’s probably several breweries you’ve heard about over and over. Spots that many people consider holy grail beer-destinations, with typically little-to-no distribution footprint. But that hasn’t really been the case in 2020 as breweries continue to look for ways to thrive amidst COVID-19. So, when I found four different efforts from Equilibrium Brewery at my beer store, I had to grab some singles and give it a try because, let’s face it, to find their beer usually means you have to be in the right place at the right time. Choosing which one to review wasn’t easy but, in the end, I decided to choose the most robust beer of the group, a DIPA by the name of dHop5.
I’d never had anything from Equilibrium before cracking open this beer and jotting down some notes, so I was pretty excited to see how it stacks up to other heavy hitters. I even grabbed a couple for a friend, just in case they all vanish between now and my next visit to the beer store.
Founded by MIT graduates Ricardo Petroni and Peter Oates in 2013, Equilibrium channeled the duo’s passion for engineering and homebrewing to experiment with unique beer offerings. The result ultimately became a destination brewery, with folks flocking to Middletown, New York to imbibe in great beer founded on scientific principles. That’s part of Equilibrium’s philosophy, to brew beer that was thoroughly tested to reflect their state-of-the-art scientific brewing knowledge, providing the local community with the freshest, boldest beer imaginable.
Originally, there were seven beers in Equilibrium’s repertoire, though these days the brewery operates on an ever-changing release model, with several new limited efforts available almost every week. No style is off limits but it’s clear that the brewery focuses much of its time on IPAs and DIPAs.
Part of an ongoing series with about 26 different variations, dHop5 is an 8.5 percent DIPA that “supersizes” one of Equilibrium’s IPAs: Fractal Citra/Galaxy. It’s brewed by scaling Fractal’s grain bill, water treatment and fermentation, all while adding even more Citra and Galaxy hops. The brewery proclaims it to be “dangerously drinkable and balanced.” I’m about to find out but not before checking out the label for dHop5. It fits right into Equilibrium’s brand awareness, with a neon green background, the brewery’s logo front-and-center and the hops used. The only thing missing is a brief summary of the beer, just so drinkers know what they’re getting into here.
I held out on the aroma, instead starting right with the pour. It had an opaque look to it, one that more resembled grapefruit juice rather than a highly sought after beer. It was hazy, offering a yellow-orange color that was complemented wonderfully by the two fingers worth of fluffy head. I want to talk about the off-white head for a minute because it was among the best I’ve ever seen come out of a can. It was decadent-looking, almost like a whipped topping, and lingered around for quite a while, proving dHop5 has well-executed carbonation. If you want an Instagram-worthy beer to make people jealous, this one just pours like an absolute dream.
When I was done ogling it, I went in for the nose. What I got smelled beautifully but was a little more faint than I anticipated. I gathered a juicy aroma, with a strong tropical undertone of grapefruit, orange juice and lime. The hops were quite evident in the nose, providing a dank vibe that gave a distinct grassy, earthy tone – something I really love when it comes to DIPAs.
And when it came time for the taste, it didn’t disappoint. It has a medium-bodied mouthfeel, with an abundantly silky characteristic, and immediately I got a punch of the tropical taste – pineapple and grapefruit mixed with some cream. It then gives way to a grassy flavor, like the nose, and ends it with a little bite of bitterness on the back-end. There’s a dankness, a juiciness and a touch of bitterness, all of which make it more complex than I was anticipating. There is an acidic aftertaste that took some getting used to through the first couple of sips, however.
Having said that, it’s really a well-crafted beer and one I could easily drink a lot of, if it was readily available. They weren’t lying about the drinkability. A few of these on a given night would be no trouble at all.
After I reached my verdict, I jumped on to BeerAdvocate to see what the people think. The site itself gives dHop5 an outstanding 94 score, while the average score is 4.41 – based on 43 ratings. For me, this beer gets a 8.9 out of 10. I’m pretty spot on in agreement with the people. It’s clear that Equilibrium knows what they’re doing and knows how to make a crushable and complex beer with a delicious flavor profile. Could I have used a little more nose, sure. But that, along with getting used to a slight acidic aftertaste, is definitely the biggest complaint here. Still, Equilibrium lived up to the hype. Now if you’ll excuse me, I have to try the others.
Stay tuned next week, because I might try something from your favorite brewery.