Saint Archer Hop Hash IPA
6.8% ABV • San Diego, CA • American IPA

Wednesday night, September 9th I was at Iron Pig Alehouse for the release of Saint Archer Brewery’s new Hop Hash IPA. Around me are a half dozen or more SA sales reps & brewery employees celebrating the launch. Their new Nelson IPL was on tap too, but all anyone could talk about was the rumor that Saint Archer was about to be acquired by the big, bad MillerCoors. If the employees knew a deal had been signed they were doing a good job of playing dumb while also acknowledging it was entirely possible.

Let’s leave the suspense for another day. Thursday morning September 10th, 2015 Saint Archer became the latest craft brewery to be snapped up by one of the big boys. And depending on your definition of craft, the first from San Diego to bite the dust so to speak. Today it is all anyone is talking about on social media and in local or even national beer news. People are throwing out opinions on both sides of the fence like day old bagels. Half the people see it as inevitable & welcome the expansion of a brand. Another half has cast Saint Archer aside as a craft brand & won’t be drinking their beer anymore. Finally, the third half is using lots of curse words and sputtering so we don’t really know what side they are on. Also, we’re not great with maths. Here at SoCal Sessions we are mostly concerned with whether or not we should keep wearing our Saint Archer hoodie that fits so damned good. (*Editor’s Note on the MillerCoors thing below)

The acquisition aside, when we were drinking Hop Hash IPA last night it was still San Diego’s local Saint Archer Brewery. We were in a local BBQ joint & toasting with friends and neighbors. We will continue to monitor Big Beer Industries acquisitions, but for now we’re just gonna talk about this beer.

Saint Archer BreweryHop hash is the leftover hop resin that occurs naturally when hops are pelletized. That sounds super scientific so it is probably true. In the case of Saint Archer’s IPA they used a concentrated combination of hops to make this beer.

Sometimes, just brewing an IPA isn’t enough. Sometimes, you need to reinvent the wheel. In this case, we chose to do that by employing the use of a hop hash, a by-product of the pelletizing process brought to us by our friends in Yakima. This super dense, concentrated hop product provides a very clean, pronounced hop bitterness and aroma. Using a small amount of Crystal malt to cut that bitterness, we dosed this beer heavily with Simcoe, Chinook, and Mosaic Hop Hash, leaving you with one of our most hop-forward beers to date. Archer

The beer is dark amber & doesn’t have a strong aroma in this pint glass. I actually wish it had been served in a chalice just so I could have gotten a better whiff. Maybe a fucking pimp chalice because this beer is pretty pimp.

Is it okay to say that? Sorry, for anyone who grew up with Too Short, TuPac and eventually 50 cent, “Pimp” was something we said when something was cool or really good. Even though actual pimping isn’t cool. In fact, being a real pimp is really bad. Don’t do that. Get a job.

From the first sip, this beer has a brisk & bitter effervescence on the the tongue. It tingles while filling your whole mouth with flavor. That full-flavor continues to grow & expand into a husky thickness as it traverses the tongue splashing around your mouth before kamikaze-ing down your throat. It continues to open up as it warms a bit. The complexity of flavor is impressive without being overwhelming. There is some tingle all the way to the end.

The way IPA’s are blown up with hops lately it is hard to drink more than one without getting a headache or being plastered but Hop Hash manages to avoid that weighty feeling. I could easily drink another even though it is 90 degrees out with eleventy-billion percent humidity. That 6.8% ABV is deceptive so don’t get yourself in the weeds with it.

Hop Hash gets 5 Lightning Bolts of Awesomeness from us. Yeah, that good.

Lightning Bolts of Awesomeness

*Editor’s Note: Saint Archer’s Hop Hash IPA is a really good beer. Knowing that it is now a recipe owned by MillerCoors doesn’t change that even if we kind of wish it did. In our beer loving heart we are sad that Saint Archer was purchased. We’ve been championing their beer and events over the past year. Since Kim, Yiga & Greg have come on-board each beer has been better than the last.

We’d like to believe MillerCoors won’t change the current SA processes but unlike like our justice system the craft beer industry is more of a guilty till proven innocent community. Precedent says that things will change. Bulk purchasing from hop farms, changes in ingredients over time, pressure from marketing teams on the other side of the country or even the world will inevitable make there imprint on the brand. At least that is the assumption until we hear the details of the deal.

And while we’re a little sad because it feels like we’re losing a local brand to the global marketplace we are also happy for Saint Archer. They made a great product. They developed & marketed the shit out of their brand. Despite the polish it felt pretty authentic. They were always a team of skateboarders, filmmakers & action sports stars first. They became a great brewery later, and now are being rewarded for that. Whether or not craft beer drinkers like that doesn’t matter. It isn’t our decision to make.

It’s easy to cast stones, but if someone offered me some life-changing cash for ownership of…I’d think about it. Probably, while drinking a beer.

  • Paul McGuire

    Great review (and fun read). I’ll have to stop by the brewery soon to taste this new brew. I have been a huge fan of their hoppy offerings and I don’t expect this will be any different. I’ll still enjoy saying hi to the guys at the tasting room even though I may not end up buying much of their beer outside of San Diego.