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Hop and Barrel Brewing

Hudson, WI

 

Crusin’ Rating: C-

Booze Rating: C-

 

Crusin' For Booze- Wisconsin Beer Wine Distillery Blogger- Hop and Barrel Brewing

This week, we are continuing our tour of Hudson, Wisconsin on the heels of our trip to Lucky Guys Distilling. Not five minutes down the street from the distillery is a brewery that we hit coming home from Minnesota once back when our beer curiosity was in its early stages. Hop and Barrel Brewing Company reminds us very much of one of Hannah’s preferred spots for spicy beer, Ooga Brewing Company. It’s at least one of three breweries that opts for recognizable neon-green and black marketing! The layout of the building itself, along with it’s small concrete patio, is also reminiscent of Ooga, if a little smaller. We sat outside in some 90 degree heat to try some beers and do a review in order for Hannah to enjoy some sunshine!


I’m going to preface this that, unless there is a breeze and unless the beer you’re sipping on is nearly frozen, 90 degree heat is actually not optimal for tasting beer or doing a review. For one, the beer is going to get warm before you finish even a small flight. Second, unless you are pounding water throughout the day, that beer is going straight to your head. Lastly, if you haven’t been staying hydrated, beer has a nice added effect of not making you feel the best when sitting in that kind of heat, it’s going to make you feel at the very least lethargic and sleepy, if not outright queasy. This is a lesson that Hannah and I have learned on more than one occasion, but bears repeating. Try and do your tastings inside when the weather is over 90, just a word to the wise.



Heat aside, entering Hop and Barrel leads you directly to facing the bar with a small seating area extending to your right and a glass door leading to the patio. To your left and around a slight corner is more seating and that room is significantly larger than the front. A family friendly brewery, dogs are allowed off leash on the fenced patio. The family friendliness was apparent not only literally from the kids present but also a children's book for sale at the bar entitled “Daddy Likes Beer.” A Wisconsin book if I’ve ever seen one. The space was mostly form over function with sparse artwork on the green walls. The backroom sports a few pinball machines and there was a flag hanging from the wall. I was reminded of, and Hannah aptly described a space “decorated like a guy’s college house.” Once she said that it was hard to unsee it.


Crusin' For Booze- Wisconsin Beer Wine Distillery Blogger- Hop and Barrel Brewing

We snagged a flight, and due to the aforementioned heat, really only stuck with a flight for this review, with no bonus beers as we had a long drive ahead of us. From what we could tell, only beer is available at Hop and Barrel, and water. We did not see any food other than chips and while we assumed they allowed carry-in food, we did not see anyone with food nor did we confirm that detail.


Ode to Stretchy Pants (7.6% ABV) - This Cream Blonde smelled of coffee, specifically Folgers, and poured a bronze-gold. With high clarity, this was a sweet, easy drinking beer accentuated by some low coffee notes. Hannah stated she wishes that the coffee flavor was a little bit more bold. We’ve run across a few coffee-blondes that strike a nice balance between malt sweetness and coffee that almost come out like a beer-latte. Easy drinking, if a little on the weak side.


I Thought You Said Weast (9.0% ABV) - An amber gold IPA with medium clarity sporting mango, lemon zest and other pronounced citra hops notes, this IPA tasted of rich tree sap with a dry finish accentuated by hops. Fairly straight forward, if a little on the unexciting side other than a little higher ABV.


And Lastly (12.2% ABV) - This Belgian Strong Ale poured a light, if ruddy, brown and smelled primarily of alcohol, but with some noticeable dark fruit notes hiding in there. We tasted prunes, bubblegum, and sugared plums but really this one was primarily boozy when smelling and tasting. While Belgian Strong Ale is sort of an umbrella term that can encompass Belgian Golden, Saison, and Belgian Golden Strong, I think that the ABV of this beer puts it into the Belgian Dark Strong - considered a Monastic Ale. While that alcohol presence has its place in this style, without some depth from the malt this beer came off as unbalanced and unpleasantly boozy.


Lemon Breaker (3.5% ABV) - A lemon Shandy that Hannah was quite excited to try on a hot day. This shandy was heavy on sweetness and Hannah described it more akin to a “beer-flavored lemon soda”. With some widespread shandies on the market, I think this one ended up being a little unexpected with the primary notes being closer to soda with lots of carbonation and the aforementioned sweetness. Absolutely still a shandy by definition,we both thought this pale straw colored offering was too much on the sweet side and was just not hitting the spot on a sweltering afternoon.



This is a brewery that, unfortunately, fails to really shine through or set itself apart. We sort of had that impression early on when first trying it, and we just didn’t know it at the time. It’s one of those breweries that is routinely just there. We haven’t run across a beer that has really wowed us and while some of their beer is just fine, and even nice to drink - which is something that can’t be said for every brewery. Being “fine” doesn’t quite earn a recommendation from us. If you were driving through Hudson and only had one spot you could try, this would not be our recommended stop. Tune in to a future article wherein we do find a spot worth going out of your way for!


Until next time, keep on crusin’, don’t stop boozin’!


To learn more about Hop and Barrel Brewing please visit their website at: www.hopandbarrelbrewing.com or on Facebook: @HopAndBarrelBrewing or on Instagram: @HopAndBarrel

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