200 | Hightower Brewing
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Traveling has returned! After a year-plus of staying home, getting out of the house and seeing the outside world and people (I guess) is very much welcomed. My first big travel stop happened to be Pittsburgh, mainly to visit family on my wife’s side. So of course breweries were on my list of things to do. Upon contacting some Pittsburgh people about what breweries to hit, one that wasn’t on my radar kept coming up – Hightower Brewing.
So why wasn’t it on my radar? Hightower Brewing brews out of Rayland, Ohio, about an hour outside of Pittsburgh. Pittsburgh has opened many new breweries in the last 5 or so years, so justifying a two hour round trip car ride wasn’t in the cards on this trip. Awesomely enough, I met up with Nick Adams of The Weekly ReCap podcast. Just as I handed out Chicago beer, he kindly gave me some Pittsburgh stuff, including two beers from Hightower. Score! Thanks Nick!
Hightower Brewing opened in May 2017 by Greg and Megan Whiting. In their garage. With a two barrel system. And they canned. A small operation to say the least. The Hightower name comes from a nickname Greg received while he worked as an electrician (he’s 6’7”). Since those days Hightower bought a permanent, non-garage space to house a taproom that opened in May 2019. (They’re also up to a 5-barrel system.)
Hightower Brewing celebrated their recent four year anniversary with the release of 200 the 200th beer brewed by Hightower. Anniversary beer, you say? It’s either something barrel-aged (usually a stout) or some crazy IPA of some sorts. 200 checks off the crazy IPA box. An 11% triple dry-hopped IPA with Strata, Mosaic, Citra, Galaxy and Nelson Sauvin, fermented on Moscato juice and a small amount of tangerine and peach puree. Much like the Ten Year Beer from Revolution, behind the 200 on the label Hightower lists the other 199 batches of beer that they’ve brewed.
200 pours a dark yellow – almost orange – color. An aggressive pour yielded about two fingers of head with big bubbles. I wish I had taken a video of it dissipating as it hypnotized me. Big bubble would crackle and pop and vanish, leaving the next big bubble to do the same. I loved watching it. Once done, no head remained on the beer at all. From a distance it resembles juice, with it being light on top and darker near the bottom. It looks like it would be one of those slow-moving milky beers but it thankfully isn’t.
Did you see the list of hops used in 200? Yeah, everything you could think of aromatically comes off this beer. Wine grapes, orange, papaya, mango, and grapefruit come in waves. The sherbit and grass notes were unique and definitely welcome. It’s one of those “choose your own nose flavors” beer where whatever you want to smell you’ll get.
I’ve had a fair share of hazy triple IPAs and there’s one thing different about 200 – the booze. Wow is it boozy. Sure the juicy notes get complemented by papaya, orange and grapefruit with some hints of orange, but the booze hands around. A small touch of grassy bitterness shows up near the end that helps things out. And it’s not sweet at all. But that booze!
My initial research just had it as just a triple dry-hopped triple IPA but after drinking it I found the culprit for all the booze I was getting. It was aged on Moscato juice! 200 definitely doesn’t go the malty, bitter and boozy traditional triple IPA route, but I think the juice does more harm than good here. After quite a few sips the booze dies down a bit, but it does make it very difficult to finish a 16 ounce can.
Thankfully the carbonation on 200 ranges from medium to high. That keeps it from getting both too sweet and moving across the palate slowly and hanging around too long. The increased drinkability this causes, however, suffers from the one thing that remains on the palate – booze. It kind of numbs the tongue after you drink enough of it.
200 did bring back fond memories of college for me. My drink of choice back then was a screwdriver, and 200 apes it perfectly. I had no idea how to make a tasty mixed drink in college, so most of my screwdrivers ended up with too much vodka and not enough orange juice. Like any college cocktail should!
I of course realize that as a hazy IPA there will be little to no bitterness, but I still would like a little more. The perceptible booze really knocks this one down for me from an absolute must try to a try it before you buy it. I have one more can of a Hightower beer (one of the Through My Lens sour beers) that I’m excited to try. I’ll definitely be making a stop if I’m ever near Rayland, Ohio though.
Hightower Brewing is located at 3445 Co Rd 16, Rayland, OH and is open for curbside pick-up and on-premise consumption in their taproom.