Ever go somewhere that has a beer selection limited to a couple of macro beers and wished for something different? A guy up in upstate New York had the same thoughts and came up with Mad Hops, flavored beer drops that elevate that taste of budget-friendly beers.

Peter Hanley grows hops in South Bristol, NY and came up with the idea for Mad Hops. He uses some of the same ingredients that go into your favorite craft beer, (hop oils, bittering, and malts) and then adds fruit and other natural flavorings. Hanley is quick to point out that they are not magically turning your can of Milwaukee’s Best into a craft beer but rather “elevating the flavor”. (Quick side note - did some guy in Milwaukee really take a sip and proclaim that was the best beer that they could come up with in Milwaukee?)

madhops1“It’s really surprising,” says Hanley. “I have watched people try Mad Hops at festivals and tastings around the country this year, and I’ve seen people move from puzzled to skeptical to delighted in the time it takes to pour and taste the product. Mad Hops is for people on a beer budget and for people who, frankly don’t like the taste of beer.”

Hanley sent us samples of all six flavors (Pale Ale, Blueberry, Cherry Wheat, Irish Porter, Apple Amber and Mexican Lime) so that we could give them a try. We grabbed a 4pk of Busch, the budget-friendliest beer in our grocer at $3.37, so that our testing would be as scientific as possible. My daughter also mentioned that Busch is her go to bargain beer at college so I did what any decent parent would do – I invited her to participate and offered her the leftovers. Bet you thought I said I’d up her allowance LOL.

We poured the beer into rocks sized glasses, initially using equal amounts of each of the Mad Hops flavors. The instructions said to use a good squirt with a 12oz beer and since we were using roughly 5 ounce pours, we dialed it back. Easier to add a few extra drops rather than start over after overdoing it. We quickly noted that some of the flavors needed a little more than others to achieve the designed effects. For example, my daughter was quick to point out that the blueberry initially still allowed the Busch taste to seep through until we added a couple more drops.

These drops go way beyond food coloring. Besides altering the color of the beer, the aroma is pretty on point too. The Apple Amber smelled like a glass of apple juice and the Irish Porter had the scent of a dark beer, maybe a little more like a brown ale than a porter but definitely not what came out of the can.

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Favorites: Irish Porter – nutty, pretty close to the real thing and the Blueberry – mild & not overpowering yet didn’t taste like Busch.

Least Favorite: Apple Amber – weird taste despite smelling like the real deal.

Bottom line is that these work as described.

Watch for them at a beer festival near you and give them a try yourself or grab a bottle or two online from their website. They’ll be at Beer on the Bay in Key Largo on Jan, 7, 2017 and the Miami Beer Festival at Marlins Park on January 14, 2017.

 

 

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