Here’s a crazy trend beer lovers should look into: The Hop Bar. Asheville Brewing Company has jars of fresh, dry hops (Cascade, Chinook, Citra, Amarillo) sitting on their bar. Order a beer and for an extra dollar, the bartender will stuff a mesh tea infuser full of the hops variety of your choice and let you dunk and soak away. Because, you know, ABC’s Shiva IPA isn’t hoppy enough.
I actually saw a dude do this at Brevard Brewing last Fall. He asked the bartender for a handful of hops and crushed them into his beer. A few minutes later, he proclaimed it to be good. When I saw it, I remember thinking, “that’s kind of stupid.”
To me, it’s kind of like ordering sushi from Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto, then dousing it with salt. The brewmaster has specifically chosen 69.5 IBU’s for his IPA, and I see no reason in throwing that beer out of balance by adding hops after the brewing process. I’m pretty sure the guy working the tanks in the back knows more about beer than I do.
And yet, I am totally psyched about this Hop Bar at Asheville Brewing because I’ve never seen a f$%*ing hop before. The hop is a foreign, magical thing to me. Tasty, necessary, but typically shipped in from the West Coast (though some intrepid brewers here in the South have started growing their own) and handled behind the scenes. And now there’s a jar of them sitting on the bar down the street? And I can pick one up for a dollar and drop it in my beer? It’s like the magician is unveiling the secret behind his best trick.
Asheville Brewing is the first brewpub I know of that has a Hop Bar in the South, but I’m sure the trend will catch on with breweries near you soon. In the meantime, stop in at the brewery’s Coxe Avenue downtown location, dunk the dank in your beer, and let us know what you think.
Follow Graham Averill’s adventures in drinking and Dad-hood at daddy-drinks.com