What I had previously called Hump’s Best Bitter has turned out decidedly not my best. It isn’t a bad session beer for those of us who love hops. But it is quite unbalanced. My previous impression of it was much more positive. At that time, the beer wasn’t completely carbonated. So perhaps it isn’t just the hops that overpower the malt, but rather a conspiracy of hops, carbonic acid, and biting bubbles.

After a few sips, a soft malt and caramel flavor becomes evident; but it isn’t enough to truly provide balance to the in-your-face level of hopping.

Alas, I will simply rename it: Hump’s Brash Broguish Brute. I know, know: “broguish” isn’t a word. But “roguish” is, and so is “brogue”. And combining the two results in such alluring alliteration… And somehow ‘Brash Brutish Brogue’ doesn’t resonate the same for me, despite being dictionary-compliant. Besides, a brogue is a thick accent – which this beer is not. A brute, on the other hand, is something that is coarse, insensitive, and/or beast-like.

A tasting of the brute reveals that it is so named for the way hops assault the senses. The beer pours an alarmingly cloudy orange (I’m not actually alarmed – the first few pulls from the keg are always very cloudy). The head pours very thick and consists of bubbles from large (though not quite soapy) to small and beady. The thick, enduring disc of foam stands tall over the cloudy beverage beneath it, leaving large patterns of lace on the glass as it slowly shrinks in stature. The aroma is intensely hoppy. It is full of fresh, grassy, flowery resins from the large dose of Willamette dry-hops. The flavor starts a bit grainy with hints of toast and much more than hints of big, fat, green hop cones. The middle of the tongue detects an astringency in the perfumey tide of hops. After a few sips, faint flavors of toffee and malt can be found, fighting their way to your taste buds. But most of them are swiftly beaten back by myrcene, humulene, and isomerized alpha acids. The finish consists of a rather delightful, soft hop bitterness. But the overgrown, astringent hop flavors cast a shadow that lulls the delight into indifference. The aftertaste is all hops, and burping makes me think of chewing on hop plugs – except wetter.

All in all, it isn’t a bad beer. I’m pretty certain that I’ve had products from overzealous commercial brewers that had similar out-of-balance flaws (though perhaps theirs were less cloudy in appearance). But it is certainly not my “best” bitter. It makes a fine session ale for hop-heads. Those that don’t care for hoppy, bitter beers: beware. And that last fact is a shame, because I enjoy sharing a beer with my wife, but she is not as fond of the hops as am I. She remarked that she liked the brew when it was still flat the other day, but I think she’ll now find its character too brutish.