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.
A little more than a year ago, I picked up a collaboration beer from Lost Tavern Brewing and thought it was extremely delicious, full of both flavor and aroma. The Lehigh Valley-based brewery had partnered with a growing spot I had heard a lot about but hadn’t been able to sample. So, for quite some time, Hidden River Brewing Company was on my must-visit list but with the world being topsy-turvy, I haven’t exactly had the opportunity to hit up breweries. Last weekend, a friend saw a post about Hidden River’s latest limited releases and decided to trek over there for a curbside adventure, asking me if I wanted to split his spoils. While it’s still on my list to visit, I had to take him up one his offer, so he got me this week’s beer, Energy Dome.
Founded in 2015 by Kevin Margitich and Doug Reeser, Hidden River is located about 50 miles northwest of Philadelphia in Douglassville, Pennsylvania. While the two cohorts had a ton of homebrewing experience, neither had brewed on a production scale but Margitich and Reeser began on a three-barrel system, which has since undergone a significant upgrade to meet with demand. Hidden River is set in Brinton Lodge, a historic, supposedly haunted, 1700s farmhouse that sits right off of the Schuylkill River. Built on land once purchased by William Penn himself, the site started as a farmhouse and morphed several times. Now, it gives drinkers the feel that they’re eating and drinking in someone’s home, with about a half dozen rooms to sit and enjoy the rotating beer list or the micro-farm-to-table menu that changes weekly – well, when things are normal.
Perhaps best known for its American IPAs and Imperial IPAs, Hidden River brews a variety of styles, though it appears the brewery’s distribution footprint is very small. I’m about 25 miles away and I know I’ve never seen their offerings at any of my local beer stores.
While my friend and I also sipped on New Normal, a pungently delicious brett saison, I knew that after tasting the collaboration beer at Lost Tavern, I wanted to review a signature-caliber beer from Hidden River and, judging from the social media posts, Energy Dome was it. I mean, it does feature my favorite hop, galaxy, which offers the kind of juiciness I seek out in a beer. But let’s get back on track here. Energy Dome is an 8.4 percent Imperial IPA that is hopped with galaxy, mosaic and citra hops, creating a flavor that Hidden River describes as “notes of luscious pineapple, sour apple, pine bark, creamy orange blossom, and subtle blueberry.”
The label for Energy Dome features a black and white pattern, created by local artist Mike Keaveney, with Hidden River’s name – and the name of the beer – going down the side. There’s no additional information about this beer listed, as far as the ABV, the hops used – anything. I know I say it every week but I always appreciate when breweries provide some background on the beer, though with constantly rotating releases it can prove challenging.
I split this four-pack with my friend and we drank the first ones together, so I had a chance to let my thoughts on Energy Dome marinate a little before I cracked open the second one for this review. The minute I popped the tap on the 16-ounce can, I went in for a heaping noseful and got a delectable, yet powerful, dose of citrus aroma, but I could only really decipher pineapple and orange, along with a nice little burst of pine, all of which was brought out from the hops.
As for the pour, it wasn’t quite what I was expecting – and that was a little disappointing. While Energy Dome pours a wonderful orangey-straw color, looking a little like a weak orange juice, there was a very limited amount of head, not even so much as one finger’s worth. By the time I took out my camera to snap a shot, it had all but dissipated. It left little retention en route to being consumed, though the carbonation was completely fine as I continued to sip.
What it lacked in the pour it more than made up for in taste. It’s a medium-bodied effort, offering a complexly well-crafted mouthfeel that’s pretty smooth. I think this beer borders on a juicebomb and that’s perfectly fine with me. Much like with the nose, there’s a burst of citrus right out of the gate, with orange, pineapple and tangerine coming to the surface and then, on the back-end, there’s a little pine-grassiness that gives way to a lovely bit of bitterness. I felt like it really left me wanting more. It is potent but incredibly easy to drink. I could, especially this time of year, just drink a few of these and be completely content. I’d often reach for this caliber effort and based on what I’ve had at Hidden River, this level of beer seems common – it’s well-crafted.
A four-pack of Energy Dome was $20, which is well worth the price. Hidden River has a very small impression on BeerAdvocate and neither this beer nor New Normal was listed so, for the first time ever, I’m not giving you an average score from the people. I would give this beer an 8.5 out of 10 because I very much enjoyed the flavor. It had a few minor knit-picking issues but that can easily be overlooked for the kind of dank Imperial IPA I would reach for on the regular. Clearly, Hidden River knows what it’s doing and the folks there better be on the lookout for a visit from me in the future.
Stay tuned next week, because I might try something from your favorite brewery.