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Hopback Summer Lightning - Hop Back Brewery plc

Hopback Summer LightningHopback Summer Lightning

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

166 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 166
Reviews: 150
rAvg: 3.62
pDev: 16.02%

Brewed by:
Hop Back Brewery plc visit their website
United Kingdom (England)

Style | ABV
English Bitter |  5.00% ABV

Availability: Year-round

Notes/Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

(Beer added by: pezoids on 09-11-2002)
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Ratings: 166 | Reviews: 150 | Show All Ratings:
Photo of akorsak


3.98/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On cask at the General Sutter. I originally saw this beer in one of Michael Jackson's books, so I am excited to finally try it.

A: The bitter is a pale straw color (seemingly par for the course here), fizzy and clear. The fizziness leads to wispy lace.

S: The bitter brings light bitterness and ample pale malts. The hops are vegetal at times but generally mild and earthy. The pale malts are light and bready.

T: Light and refreshing, a perfect way to start the day. Balance is key, at least initially. Upfront, light malts are biscuity and the hops earthy - very mild. That changes as each sip progresses. The hoppiness builds quickly, a bitterness that, by the end, is surprisingly strong and dry. The lightness of the ale is nice, plenty of flavor in such a small package.

M: While the ale is light, it doesn't skimp on flavor. The rising bitterness is a reminder that the Brits know their way around hops too.

Serving type: cask

11-06-2011 20:22:48 | More by akorsak
Photo of Koufax21

New Mexico

2.93/5  rDev -19.1%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

Had on cask a Bull's Head Cask Festival in Letitz, PA.

A - poured a faint yellow straw color with a hint of fizzy white head that disappeared after a few moments.

S - this one smells pretty good. A bit more of a hop aroma than I would typically expect from British beer.

T - mildly bitter with a dry finish. I keep hearing from people how good this one is. To each their own, I guess.

M - dry and no carbonation. Light bodied.

O - nope. A very average beer in my opinion. I tried on a recommendation. While I'm glad I got to try this highly touted ale, it just didn't blow me away.

Serving type: cask

11-05-2011 17:06:06 | More by Koufax21
Photo of BlackHaddock

United Kingdom (England)

3.9/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

After giving this a crap review in its bottled form I'm now evening up the balance with this cask review.

Hand pulled into a pint UK sleeve in one of my local pubs on 2 Sep 2011.

Good deep golden body with a thin white head that tried to stay around awhile.

The smell was of floral hops and hints of some citrus interest.

The taste was a well balanced blend of semi-sweet biscuity malts and mildly bitter hops. The hops becoming more dominant as the beer warmed and the mouth dried.

A whole lot better than the bottled version, are they the same beer?

Serving type: cask

10-08-2011 09:44:26 | More by BlackHaddock
Photo of hophopandaway

United Kingdom (England)

4.5/5  rDev +24.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

This beer comes around at my local less regularly than I would like but i is one of my favourites. The beer is nicely hopped so that there is an element of bitterness but it is not super-dominant. The head is creamy, fine and lasts right to the last sip. The lacing is as good as it comes.
When drinking the mouthfeel is unsurpassed, it's floral on the nose but with a gentle hint of soft summer fruits. The taste is of a mild bitterness that is perfectly balanced with the light earthy and herby flavours that make this a very well balanced beer perfect for an afternoon in the beer garden of your favourite pub.
This is no longer the best beer in it's class but it is a beer that was almost revolutionary in its early years. This is the kind of beer that converts the lager heathens in to real ale fanatics. 5 pints of this on a friday after a tough week is a super way to start the weekend.

Serving type: cask

02-21-2011 07:22:36 | More by hophopandaway
Photo of boss302


3.95/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Hopback ale, summer ale. I had this beer in London.

A It was gold and had the typical cask fine bubble head. Nice looking beer. 4

S For the London area, this is a very hoppy smelling beer. There is a trend to move away from hoppy beers in London. This one was much closer to a hoppy beer. 4

T Lots of malt, and a nice hoppy flavor. 4

M Medium mouthfeel, carbonation was low but appropriate for a cask ale. 3.5 

D Yes, one I could drink more of. 4 

Serving type: cask

10-25-2010 00:49:21 | More by boss302
Photo of benclimbs


3.85/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

on tap @ the cat/wheel pub in bristol...suprisingly great cask bitter.

look is a light yellowish amber with a lot of lacing and a 1 finger head.

smell is citrus hops with a bit of malty balance...nice hoppy bitter smell.

taste is quite bitter/hoppy/crisp with a nice combination of fruit hops and off-dry malts...a bit of biscuit in there too.

Overall its a very drinkable, nice cask bitter...a very refreshing summer ale.

Serving type: cask

09-29-2009 16:52:29 | More by benclimbs
Photo of StJamesGate

New York

3.8/5  rDev +5%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

On cask at the Hilden Beer Festival.

Pours deep gold with no real head. Big honey lemon nose. Grain and angel food cake malts. Woody, bright citrus hops with a herbal sting. Medium, sticky body.

As hoppy on cask as I always wished it was in the bottle.

Serving type: cask

09-04-2009 20:55:58 | More by StJamesGate
Photo of soulgrowl

United Kingdom (England)

4.18/5  rDev +15.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Clear but slightly hazed golden yellow. Looks a lot like a lighter honey, crowned with a lacy white head with fair retention. Pilsnerish, delicately leafy/floral (lettuce/dandelion) hops and a pleasant orange-and-honey, sort of biscuity malt sweetness tickle the olfactory glands. Crisply hopped with a nice, firm, citric bitterness that dominates the overall flavor, but not without letting a mild but noticeably nutty, whole-grainy malt character to shine through. Quite nicely robust and refreshing, yet light with a pithy hop finish that dries up nicely but leaves enough juicy sweetness to pull you back in for more. This is a lovely summer ale that drinks like a really very good pilsner or kölsch. Possibly a good curry beer.

Serving type: cask

05-20-2009 09:59:05 | More by soulgrowl
Photo of DaveUK

United Kingdom (England)

4.33/5  rDev +19.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Appearance - Clear brown with well formed 1/2 inch head. The head settled to a ring halfway down.

Aroma - Bitter hops and lightly roasted malt.

Taste - Taste of fresh, biscuity malt. Hint of fruit in the juicy, hoppy finish.

Mouthfeel - Light to medium, wonderfully refreshing.

Drinkability - I would certainly seek out this superb golden ale again.

I had this in the Turf tavern, Oxford, UK. If anyone is in the region I highly recommend this pub for its large choice and excellent handling of quality ale.

Serving type: cask

08-19-2007 15:31:20 | More by DaveUK
Photo of PeatReek


3.98/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Clear and straw yellow, with a light lid of head. Aroma is mostly malty with bright English hop aspects. Taste is all malt up front, nice and crisp with a stiff pleasing bitterness and a bit of hoppy flavor on the back end. The mild cask carbonation really allows the malt backbone to shine, and the body is so light that I'm shocked its original gravity was 49. Super drinkable; I had lots to try this evening, but I'll definitely have several of these if I ever come across Summer Lightning again.

[NERAX 2007]

Serving type: cask

05-03-2007 15:07:31 | More by PeatReek
Photo of mdagnew

United Kingdom (Northern Ireland)

3.9/5  rDev +7.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Half pint sampled at the Belfast Beer Festival, 17th November 2006...

Poured a light golden yellow colour... Slightly off white head poured fairly foamy then faded quite quickly to light layer.. fair amount of carbonation... some light patchy lacing...

Aroma - Light biscuity malts, vanilla hints, grassy, nice honey sweetness, some light lemon notes, apricot, sea saltiness, spicy / pepperiness, some floral hops, some yeastiness...

Taste – Light spicy / grassy hops, some light toasted biscuity malts, definite honey sweetness, peppery notes, floral, some creamy vanilla, light fruits (lemons, apricots, light grapefruits)...

Feel - Pretty smooth... Light bodied. Very drinkable and refreshing - a nice summer, thirst quenching, beer...

Overall - A pretty good beer... nothing too exciting but very drinkable.... certainly worth a try...

Serving type: cask

11-22-2006 15:36:24 | More by mdagnew
Photo of Dithyramb


4.33/5  rDev +19.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Enjoyed on cask at the Jolly Farmer (Hopback owned) in Surrey. Poured a pale and clear golden yellow, with a small white head that gave excellent lacing. Floral hops and some citrus aromas.
Sharp herbal bitterness on the front end. Mellowed out with some floral hops mixed in. Just enough mellow chalky malt in the background to round it off and call it "complex."
Finished dry and very well balanced medium bodied brew. Very drinkable and, at 5%, gives just a tinge of warmth on you after the second or so.

Serving type: cask

12-09-2005 16:11:15 | More by Dithyramb
Photo of twelvsies


3.73/5  rDev +3%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

Gotta love the cask. This beer appeared a very light amber color, with a pretty substantial head clinging to the glass. Smell isn't really that expressive, but a nice herbal hop quality hits the nose. As for the taste, it's pretty hoppy there as well, with a great bitter kick. I might be apt to look for a little more flavor however, it's a tad bland. However almost anything tastes good on cask, nice super smooth mouthfeel. Excellent. Like I said, a little more complexity of character would make this beer stand out more.

Serving type: cask

05-20-2005 19:08:59 | More by twelvsies
Photo of goodbyeohio


4.08/5  rDev +12.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

from the hand-pump.. delaney's new haven on saturday afternoon..

cloudy pour.. yellow-orange with minimal head and a very thick, solid lacing.

smells of lemon, yeast, bananas and coriander. tastes very wheaty and yeasty yet light. drinkable all day long. a great session beer for mr. moneybags.. for me, a great sampling. highly recommended by the barwench and with her i must agree.

Serving type: cask

03-07-2005 16:41:36 | More by goodbyeohio
Photo of karst


3.45/5  rDev -4.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Touted as having a fresh hoppy aroma, well rounded malty flavor, and intense bitterness that leads to a long dry finish. This 1/2 L. bottle showed me little of these promises except some presistant lace and a chalky dry finish that seemed more from its yeast than hops. Aroma was more of sugary grain and apples. Nice carbonation. Pleasent mouthfeel for this "summer ale" style
Comming off a local stout and porter I just did not find much in bitterness. A lesson on not adding something this light at the end of a tasting. A BA buddy was equally uninpressed and preceeded it with a IPA. I may revisit it this summer and start out with it.

Serving type: cask

03-05-2005 04:19:09 | More by karst
Photo of palma

New York

3.5/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

On cask at the Brazen Head's Tri-Annual Real Ale Cask Festival.

Hazy yellow body with a small head for the duration of the pint. Alcohol whiffs and a light fruity fragrance. Taste is bitter citrus and a bit cloying to my dismay. A little strong in terms of alcohol taste and sharp citric flavors for an English ESB. I guess that's why they call it lightning.

Serving type: cask

02-27-2005 19:19:31 | More by palma
Photo of ppoitras


3.28/5  rDev -9.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Enjoyed at The Moan & Dove, Amherst, MA. Presented in a pint glass.

Short-lived, uneven off-white head over the golden brew. Aroma is pale malts with a tinge of vinegar. Taste is the same as the nose, with some hoppy crispness at the close. Mouthfeel is okay, with the vinegar presence knocking it a bit, and the drinkability is good. Worth a try, as all cask ales usually are, hopefully I just had a bit of a bad experience with this one, and the norm is better.

Serving type: cask

02-13-2005 02:25:52 | More by ppoitras
Photo of Stimack

New York

3.95/5  rDev +9.1%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Had this brew last evening at Mahars and was server on cask. This brew was pulled to a cloudy pale yellow/golden (but not like an American macro) color with a nice frothy whipped like head that had fantastic retention and produced excellent lacing. The aromas of this brew where of a hoppy nature! Had a pine and grapefruit hop aroma that was very noticeable and then had a solid malt smell that was biscuity and buttery, a very interesting smelling brew. The taste was nice, very well balanced between the hop like tastes and malt. The hop notes tasted more floral than citrus like IMO, and the malt backbone of this brew is real nice and as I said really balances out the brew. This is a brew that I could sit around and enjoy for an evening, as it is quite refreshing, but next time I hope to experience it during the actual summer or warmer months. Seems a bit weird having something called Summer Lightning in January when the temp was –1 out!

Serving type: cask

01-22-2005 15:37:49 | More by Stimack
Photo of francisweizen


4.4/5  rDev +21.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

On cask at the Head of Steam, Euston Station. Dark golden/amber, big white head for a cask ale, a pretty looking beer for sure....but how does it smell? The aromas are very nice. East Kent Golding hops meld with buttery, biscuity malts, reminiscent of fresh baked bread. The taste is that of a well balanced strong English bitter. A nice floral hoppiness dances with a lightly toasty maltiness to create a very, very, drinkable ale. This ale is medium bodied>light with low carbonation and an insane drinkability. Wow, now that I have done this review, I have just remembered how good this beer is on the hand pump. I'll have to pick up a bottle to review soon!

Serving type: cask

11-16-2004 18:52:39 | More by francisweizen
Photo of GreenCard


3.43/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Tasted from cask at St. Andrews Tavern in Norwich, UK...

Appearance: pale gold, good clarity, glowing color, frothy topping of white foam, lace

Aroma: hop cheese, pine sap & grapefruit rind, malt peeks up through the hops just a bit

Flavor: banana-like fruitiness, bready malt sweetness, grapefruit rind hop flavor, hint of diacetyl, finishes dryish with a lingering bitterness

Mouthfeel:medium-light body, no carbonation, slight astringency, some alcohol warmth

Other comments: The publican told me this was a "strong" beer. To which I replied, "I lived in Belgium for a year... this is NOT strong." She was not amused. Good beer though, plenty of hops without overpowering the senses. Touch of mold in the background, though (this could have more to do with the serving conditions).

Serving type: cask

09-09-2004 15:38:09 | More by GreenCard
Photo of CAMRAhardliner

Ontario (Canada)

4.78/5  rDev +32%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 5 | feel: 5 | overall: 5

From notes taken at the Olde Gaol House in Winchester, England (13/08/04):

pours a light gold color with a decent head and a mad amount of lace, even for a cask ale. It totally coats the glass. The aroma is of lemony hops and wheat malt. The taste is equal parts citrusy, very floral hops and light bready malts. The hops make a very nice bitter finish. The mouthfeel is perfection, very silky and subtley carbonated. The aftertaste is crisp and lightly bitter. An excellent beer, one of the best casks I tried in England.

Serving type: cask

09-04-2004 04:51:07 | More by CAMRAhardliner
Photo of taez555


3.43/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Had this beer on cask at this bar in London, for the life of me I can’t think of the name of it, but it was right next to Madame Tussaeds wax museum.


It poured a clear orange/yellow body with a small white head.

Really not a whole lot of flavor in this cask version. Nice smooth and refreshing malt body. A slight fruit touch, a little floral, some nice soft subtle bitterness. Beyond that though, just a basic thirst quencher for me. I might have to see if I can find a bottle of this somewhere else.

Serving type: cask

09-02-2004 08:40:59 | More by taez555
Photo of Shiredave

New York

3.98/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

On Cask at Mahars in Albany.
Golden color with bright white frothy head and good cling. I even noticed and occasional bubble of carbonation.
Aroma is honey covered bread and earthy hop. Light and clean, very little yeast notes and very British.
Light, session beer mouth feel with excellent balance of sweet and bitter. Grassy hop bite lingers and forces you to order another.
A Classic British Real Ale.

Serving type: cask

01-10-2004 19:15:51 | More by Shiredave
Photo of UnionMade


4.25/5  rDev +17.4%
look: 5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 5 | overall: 4.5

Pours a beautiful pale amber, with a creamy white head. Slightly hazy. Excellent lacework, leaving a trail all the way down the side of the pint.
Aroma is decidedly british, with some goldings. Fairly hoppy, with a good malt backing. A touch of toasted malt, but very light. Plenty of floral esteriness, with a touch of nutty aroma. Well balanced, with no flavor particularly standing out.
Flavor is straight up my alley. Creamy and rich, with terrific malt/hop balance. Lightly bready maltiness, sweet and lightly fruity. A touch of apricot and floweriness. Body is medium, with nice low carbonation, that signature cask creamy feel. Awesome. If you have an opportunity to try this beer on cask, do it. Your tongue will thank you, and ask for another.

Serving type: cask

08-19-2003 07:50:14 | More by UnionMade
Photo of PatandDavid


3.73/5  rDev +3%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

I've had this several times on cask, but actually took a few notes yesterday.

I've had this better at Nerax, but here goes:

Clear golden color when poured. Not much to smell. No head or lace to speak of.

The flavor was actually rather floral I thought. There was a slightly sweet, delicate lemony note in the finish. The aftertaste proved slightly bitter.

I would recommend this on cask in situations where you know it's going to be fresh: at Nerax, or another situation where it's freshly imported. While my pour wasn't awful by any means, knowing how good this can be fresh, leaves me unable to rate this one any higher at the moment.


Serving type: cask

07-21-2003 22:53:20 | More by PatandDavid
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Hopback Summer Lightning from Hop Back Brewery plc
82 out of 100 based on 166 ratings.