You gotta love the label of Sweetwater’s latest limited release, the Johnny Hash double IPA. There’s a cartoonish Johnny Cash-looking dude holding a guitar and giving us the finger—how do you not buy that beer? Fork over the cash for the Johnny Hash and you’ll be rewarded with a double IPA that lives up to its “dank” promises.
Johnny Hash pours kind of pale for a double IPA, but it smells like a bushel of citrus has been jammed up your nostrils. The nose is sweet, floral, with heavy grapefruit. I can’t emphasize that enough. Heavy grapefruit.
The beer has a highly carbonated, effervescent mouthfeel and it’s bitter as hell, but there’s an undeniable, almost candied sweetness to the beer as well. Don’t mistake these two qualities for balance. If you’re looking for balance, look elsewhere. That’s not Johnny Hash’s bag of tricks. But is any double IPA balanced? It’s possible that we in the modern world put too much emphasis on “finding balance.” Great things are rarely balanced. The Leaning Tower of Pisa. Dolly Parton. Instead of balance, Johnny Hash delivers an over the top citrus bomb. It’s like drinking 8.5% ABV grapefruit juice. If I had to describe the beer in a single word, it would be “juicy.”
Sweetwater went experimental to jack up the hop qualities of this beer. They kept the traditional hops minimal, and instead used a concentrated form of citra hop resin (or hash), gleaned from the barrel of hop pelletizers. Each barrel of beer is given a pound of the hop hash, which looks like a green brick and is loaded with bittering agents and citrus flavor.
A couple of other breweries are using hop hash in their beers. Caldera Brewing does a Hop Hash Ale, and Cambridge Brewing Company uses hop hash in the oh-so-cleverly named #Hashtag. I haven’t had the chance to try these two versions, but if Sweetwater’s Johnny Hash is any indication, we’ll be seeing more beers using the green bricks in the future.
Johnny Hash is part of Sweetwater’s Dank Tank Series. Look for it in 22-ounce bombers, but look fast—it won’t be on the shelves long.
City: Atlanta, Ga.
Style: Double IPA