My relationship with Lagunitas got off to a rocky start. The beer I tried out of Petaluma was their Pale Ale and I really, really didn't like it. I went on to try a couple more small bottles of their beer and I found a common thread through all of these beers was a really bitter hop component that I just didn't like at all. I decided to give Lagunitas one last try a few months later and went with the Hop Stoopid, a beer that was supposed to be hoppy. I thought it was a great beer and it warmed me up to trying more Lagunitas beers again. Since then I've found a couple more bombers of Lagunitas that I thought were quite good, now it's time to try the Gnarly Wine.
I've pretty much sworn off Lagunitas. Well, more-or-less sworn off... With the exception of Hop Stoopid I have not enjoyed any of their beers. After the third or fourth "Pale Ale" from Lagunitas I bought that tasted exactly like the last Lagunitas beer I had before, I got a little burnt out on this brewery. I like their stoner ethic and approach to making beer, but I don't like how each beer in their lineup is essentially the same as the last, just with more hops. Hop Stoopid was a great beer and I continue to drink it when I'm out and looking for a cheap bomber. I've heard Cappuccino Stout is similarly different and even more enjoyable.
Here's a beer I've been putting off for a while... Hop Stoopid from Lagunitas is pretty much everything I hate about craft beer. That may sound a little extreme, and I'm probably being overly dramatic, but that's why I've passed on this beer for so long. First, I've had four or five other Lagunitas beers in the last six months or so, I haven't thoughts highly of a single one. The common thread amongst those beers, they were too hoppy for their style. I complain a lot about brewery's who try to be extremely extreme and push the IBU envelope by just cramming obscene amounts of hops in a beer. That was my impression of Lagunitas, they make traditional style beers, rinse their bottles with that beer, then fill the bottles with hop tea... Hop Stoopid, their Double IPA, seemed like it'd just be more of the same. Just look at that name... there is no way I'd like this beer.
I'm not sure what to make of this beer... I originally picked it up without paying much attention to it. This was one of those beers that I grabbed to finish out a six pack sampler. In some ways it was an impulse purchase. I just assumed, based off of the name, that this beer was a Brown Ale. So as quite a surprise when I was pouring this beer into a pint glass and glanced at the bottle to notice it was 9.8% alcohol. Taking a whiff of the beer in my glass it smelled a bit like what I expected, but with more than a hint of piney hops. Still, I was intrigued by this beer and dove right into this pint glass.
The label of the Lagunitas New Dogtown Pale Ale has a friendly looking down on it just above a small line of text that reads "Still Doggone Good." Doggone good? I beg to differ. I enjoy beers that are balanced or showcase complimentary flavors, this Pale Ale doesn't do either of these. The New Dogtown is too hoppy which makes it taste dry and bitter. It smells like there is some citrus in this beer but you can barely tell through all of the bitterness. There are plenty of beers with strong flavors that I like but bitter, over hopped Pale Ales just aren't my preference. This beer isn't all bad but it is difficult for me to say much nice about it. The best part of this beer would have to be the few seconds after taking a drink when you are able pick up on the sweet flavors in here just before the bitter hops rush in and make everything taste a bit like dandelion. My advice would be to take a pass on this beer.