Minted | Hop Butcher For the World
Hop Butcher is noted for two things – new beers and hoppy beers. A typical week for them sees two to three beers being released with one to two being entirely new; returning beers just come out whenever. As for hoppy beers, let’s just say we’ve been tracking their released this year and, pre-taproom opening, they released less than five non-hoppy beers (I’m throwing pale ales, IPAs, DIPAs, TIPAs into that mix). So having a non-hoppy beer come out at a regular interval goes against two of the big tenets of the Hop Butcher ethos. As such, here comes Minted for the holiday season.
Off the top of my head, only two beers have releases you can set your calendar to – AleMerica The Beautiful and Milkstachio. Alemerica comes out (you guessed it) around the 4th of July while Milkstachio (a collab with DryHop) comes out in the middle of December. Minted, first released December 2021, look like it will join that list, even being labeled on the can as a “Holiday Imperial Stout.” Consistency.
Another Hop Butcher tenet, though, is collaboration. I won’t even bother to list all the collabs they’ve done with other breweries as it goes on and on. They also collab with non-breweries, most notably The Smashing Pumpkins on Soul Head for their Gish 30th anniversary celebration last year. Minted came about as a collaboration with Garrett Brands, which also owns Garrett Popcorn, who collaborated with Revolution on the absolutely delicious CaramelCrisp brown ale. Frango mints became a Chicago staple after being sold at the former downtown Marshall Fields stores. Can Minted join those ranks?
Minted pours pitch black with little to no highlights. A finger of khaki head forms and slowly dissipates to nothing. Some alcohol sticks around on the side when swirling but it quickly goes away. Some particles do remain on the side of glass after the alcohol leaves though. Hop Butcher used mint oil and (thankfully) not the actual mints so maybe chocolate?
Don’t expect a ton of mint aroma on Minted. Odd sentence but true! The chocolate really dominates on the nose, coming off as a chocolate ganache. Some roasty notes also creep in as well, giving me some hope for it. It doesn’t smell sweet or like toothpaste, so two possible pitfalls avoided!
While being a little sweet, Minted sticks to that nice kick of roastiness that came on the aroma to keep things in check. The amount of mint on the palate depends on its warmth. It seemed the colder Minted was, the less mint showed up on the taste. The warmer it got, the less roastiness showed up. Keep in mind that even at room temperature Minted never became a mint bomb at any point. It existed as a perfume in the mouth, existing above the tongue and just hovering there.
The chocolate on Minted, however, exists throughout. I think due to the lack of roastiness when it warmed, Minted trended more chocolate forward and a bit sweeter than when cold. Somehow, Hop Butcher got Minted to fully coat the tongue and then leave right away, only leaving behind some chocolate and that mint essence from the last paragraph. It’s a refreshing combination.
Minted could have gone wrong in many ways. Too much mint would have moved it into the toothpaste realm and decidedly undrinkable. Too much chocolate would’ve made it too sweet (I’m looking at you, maple syrup in Dark Black). The roastiness really cuts the sweetness down and keeps things drinkable. It’s by no means an easy drinker either, requiring a bit of time (think an hour or so) to get through a 16 ounce can.
So is it the best mint beer I’ve had? No, as that honor still resides with Werk Force’s 2021 BA Mint Chocolate Chip Sleepy Bear. (Full disclosure: Barrel-aged Minted was on tap at Hop Butcher when I visited. It was too cold to form a full opinion on it, especially based on what I experienced with this can.) I would definitely pick up another can of Minted, especially if this becomes a yearly December release. Make it so, Hop Butcher!