For a few days I'd seen Pond Hopper being mentioned around twitter, and then I read Matt Curtis's blogpost about it, and mentions of Halcyon which got my tastebuds tingling. On a late Friday night visit to Beer Ritz I noticed it on the shelf... not expecting to be able to find it yet. It was the last bottle there, and it cost around £16 for 750mls. Lucky for me and Mr T, we had the super generous Mr T Snr. with us, who decided to treat us all.
87: Pond Hopper Double Extra Pale Ale, Thornbridge and Odell, 8.9%
As soon as the bottle was opened, you could smell the hops across the room. A slight wheat beery aroma, tropical fruit hops with a hint of banana, and it tasted the same. This was brewed with English malt, and American hops, between the English brewery, Thornbridge, and Odell, based in Colorado in the US (a collaboration across the pond, hence the name). There were complex flavours going on, but it wasn't as in your face as some of the heavily hopped beers I have tried, I think this was more sophisticated as it was packed with flavours but in a slightly muted, mellow and soft fashion. Not particularly bitter, and the flavours blended beautifully. A very very drinkable beer, and one that hid its strength very well.
But it was £16. We did our maths, and worked out this would be just over £7.00 for a 330ml bottle, to help us put it into perspective. We have spent a lot of money on beer before. We have spent more than £7.00 on a 330ml bottle. But when you can get incredibly tasty and varied beers for half this cost... is it worth it? Is it better? It is delicious. But so are many many beers that cost less. Maybe my palate is not developed enough to distinguish some unique qualities and flavours.
For me, it was worth it (well... technically I didn't pay...but I'm pretty sure Mr T Snr. agrees) because it was an opportunity to try something that is a one-off. Something that has a pedigree. An opportunity to experience what others were experiencing and join in with the hype. For many this won't be a good enough reason, but for me, this time, it is. I would buy a Pond Hopper II, if one was to be brewed, but this was my one and only taste of this beer. And it was a good one.