Class in a Glass: Dominion Brewing’s Hop Lips IPA

Dominion Brewing struck a chord with Delaware and local beer drinkers several years ago when it began introducing what the brewery now calls its Pin-Up series of beers.

The beers (which I refer to on occasion as “the bomber series”) began as seasonal offerings in 22oz “bomber” bottles with artwork that harkens back to the posters favored by G.I.s in World War II.

Hop-LipsThe series became so popular that Dominion had no choice but to expand their availability by offering them in 12oz six-packs individually, or in a rotating sampler case dubbed The Pin-up Pack which now comprises of Double D IPA (All year), Morning Glory Expresso Stout (All year), Candi Belgian Triple (Fall/Winter) and Abbey Ale (Winter/Spring) and Gigi’s Farmhouse (Spring/Summer).

In an interview I did back in January, CEO Jim Lutz informed me that they were brewing test batches with the plans of adding another girl to the group this summer, Hop Lips, the brewery’s first IPA but because the beer was in its early stages, there wasn’t much he could tell me about it at the time so I simply made a mental note to keep an eye out for it.

And now it’s available, so let’s taste.

THEM: Hop Lips (whose pin-up girl is named Hannah) is built on a grain bill of Munich, Crystal and wheat malts. Her lips get their hoppiness from Nelson-Sauvin, Cascade, Select and Crystal. The beer clocks in at 6%ABV and 45IBUs.

ME: Good looking beer. Dense foam head, lace, decent carbonation. The nose is filled with hop contributed aromas like florals, tropical fruits and some straight forward cascade goodness.  The taste is right in line with aroma. The hops aren’t over powering, but they do tip the scale slightly to their favor over the malt base. I’d say the mouth feel is about medium, although it does finish a little watery on the back end. In some beers this could let the hops linger, which they do, leaving a light tingle and a hint of astringency in your mouth, but Hop Lips never builds to the point of being overly bitter or bitey.

Hannah is worthy of being the next pin-up girl. She’s pretty well balanced, has a nice hop profile and drinks pretty quickly. When Jim described his future 6.0% IPA to me as “sessionable”, I admit I chuckled a bit, but it wasn’t lasting long in my glass. She’s definitely more in line with an American IPA style, as opposed to and English style I recently talked about when I reviewed 16 Mile’s Inlet IPA. For Dominions first offering in the IPA style I think they hit the mark pretty well.

As far as where it falls with the rest of the brewery’s beers, Double D is still my favorite with Candi coming in at a close second, but Hop Lips is high on my list. Any IPA lovers living or traveling through Delaware should give her a shot. She just may be your kind of girl.

Time for another beer.

THE FINAL SIP: One out of two actresses who played Hot Lips Houlihan prefer Hop Lips beer. (ORIGINAL PHOTO CREDIT: 20th Century Fox)
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