1. Extreme Beer Fest. March 20 & 21, 2015 in Boston, Mass. Join us!
  2. The wait is over! Download the BeerAdvocate app on iTunes or Google Play now.
  3. Get 12 issues / year of BeerAdvocate magazine for only $9.99!

Hopback Summer Lightning - Hop Back Brewery plc

Not Rated.
Hopback Summer LightningHopback Summer Lightning

Displayed for educational use only; do not reuse.

167 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 167
Reviews: 150
rAvg: 3.62
pDev: 16.02%
Wants: 12
Gots: 0 | FT: 0
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)
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
Sort by:  Usefulness | Recent | High | Low | Top Raters
« first ‹ prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | next › last »
Ratings: 167 | Reviews: 150 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of Sammy
3.15/5  rDev -13%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

An easy drink, thin mouthfeel. Golden. Somewhat hopped, but understated. Bit of wheat and wheatgerm. Low carbonation, floral hops. Cloves, sweet csugar cookie malt and bannana. Fresh crisp. Unfinishable with 5 of us. Rest for cooking burgers. Some bitter aftertaste.

Sammy, Aug 18, 2004
Photo of nmann08
4/5  rDev +10.5%

nmann08, Dec 14, 2011
Photo of brentk56
3.55/5  rDev -1.9%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Pours a cloudy pale golden color with a big head that leaves lace all over the pint glass

Smell: Biscuity, with a lemon sugar cookie aspect

Taste: Open with a bit of the biscuit as well, with an increasingly lemon and mineral flavor profile taking over by mid-palate; after the swallow, those flavors linger, but there is too much sweetness relative to the bitterness

Mouthfeel: Medium body with moderate carbonation

Drinkability: With the light lemon flavor, this is more like a summer ale than a bitter

brentk56, Aug 22, 2008
Photo of BuckeyeNation
3.28/5  rDev -9.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

What better time to drink a beer called Summer Lightning than a humid, 90 degree July day. Too bad that there isn't a summer storm raging outside my window, lightning and all.

Lucent pale amber with plenty of vigorous carbonation. It's so vigorous, in fact, that the head quickly overflowed my pint glass (like many of the Belgian beers do unless I remember to pay attention). The head is not quite cotton white and is persistent; stubborn even. It looks like meringue from a coconut cream pie, though it leaves no more than an average amount of lace, so it isn't all that sticky.

The aroma is nothing too special. There's a whiff of sweet fruit, bananas perhaps, but grain is dominant. The flavor doesn't really inspire either; not bad, just not all that good. Untoasted grain and Brit hops are the major players on the palate. The finish is dry, crisp and yeasty sour.

There isn't too much wrong with the body/mouthfeel other than a few too many bubbles. It's too bad that carbonation is a doubled-edged sword when it comes to beer. An abundance of CO2 oftentimes makes for a great head and a powerful aroma, but it sometimes ruins the mouthfeel for me.

In the end, Hopback Summer Lightning is a pedestrian English Bitter. It isn't horrible, but at $3.29 per bottle, I can't recommend it either. I'm tempted to say that a more appropriate name would be Summer Static Electricity, but that would be unfair (although amusing).

BuckeyeNation, Jul 14, 2004
Photo of BEERchitect
4.33/5  rDev +19.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

I'm a bit confussed about the lower ratings for this brew. Folks, this is a really good brew. Maybe the comparisons to a Pale Ale hurts a bit, but it's supposed to be a Bitter. The brew starts off with an obvious bottle-conditioned hazed, and light carbonation; trying to capture the essence of cask-conditioning. The brew could handle a bit deeper more of a golden hue, but the beer looks nice and frothy. Fresh aromas of pine and fresh-cut grass complement the medium pilsner malts nicely, offering a balance and added character above the sweetness. Fruity (pears and appricots), spicy (Fuggle Hops), and super clean flavors meld neatly. The feel is a soft, candied texture and a firm hop bite. Finishes very clean with a dry-hop linger. Really liking this brew.

BEERchitect, May 02, 2007
Photo of Phyl21ca
3.5/5  rDev -3.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Bottle: Poured a gold colored beer with a standard head with above average retention. Carbonation is quite good and body is a bit thin. Aroma is lovely with a mix of floral hops and nice strong malt. Taste is very refreshing with some sweetness kicking first and ending with a slight bitterness. Overall, this is an above average English ale and very refreshing for the summertime.

Phyl21ca, Jul 16, 2004
Photo of oberon
3.68/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 3 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Kind of a hazy copper/yellow color wich is the way it should be.Got a little yeasy not in the aroma had a little clove flavor lingering in the palate.Very easy to drink, refreshing summer ale I enjoyed it,better than alot of summer golden ales and such here in the US.

oberon, Feb 04, 2003
Photo of emerge077
4.03/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Pours with very little active carbonation, an aggressive pours gets a little bit of foam. Color is a slightly hazed yellow with an amber tint. Lazy streams of bubbles drift up through the straw colored liquid. Some rings of lace form.

Clean malt aroma, fairly simple.

Taste reminds me a little of Czech Pilsner, lightly malty with a grassy hop in the middle. Honey lingers faintly in the aftertaste. Biscuit or crackery presence. Very clean feel, smooth with low carbonation. Hop bite is mild but adds a pleasant bittering at the end. It would be much easier to session this on a cask, the $5 cost of the bottle is a little prohibitive on the session end of things.

emerge077, Dec 09, 2007
Photo of zeff80
3.83/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A - Poured out a somewhat cloudy, golden-yellow color with a creamy, foamy, white, two-finger head. It left some nice rings of lace.

S - It smelled of grains and floral notes.

T - It tasted earthy and grassy with some sweet grains. It also had a nice light caramel flavor.

M - It was crisp and very sharp. A light to medium-bodied beer.

D - This is a nice bitter. Nothing fabulous, but certainly drinkable.

zeff80, Jul 09, 2008
Photo of TheManiacalOne
2.93/5  rDev -19.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Poured from a 16.9oz. bottle into a US tumbler pint glass.

A: The beer is a light gold color, with a large white head that fades slowly and leaves a spotty lace on the glass.

S: The aroma is very faint with just some light malts and a touch of hops.

T: The taste starts out with light and decently balanced flavors of mild citrus, a thin malt character and a bitter but mild hops presence. There's not a lot to the taste overall, but the hops transitions into a mildly bitter after-taste.

M: Crisp but not very smooth, light-to-medium body, medium-to-high carbonation, finish is clean.

D: Not very flavorful, goes down ok, not too filling, mild kick, not the best representation of style, there are definitely several other beers in the style that I would choose first.

TheManiacalOne, Aug 12, 2009
Photo of Slatetank
4/5  rDev +10.5%

Slatetank, May 16, 2013
Photo of WesWes
3.68/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

The beer pours a gold color with a thin white lace head. The aroma is decent. It has a light pale malt scent with a slight hop presence. The taste is decent as well. It has a crisp pale malt flavor with a mild bitter hop flavor. It goes down easy and finishes dry with a bit of a hoppy aftertaste. The mouthfeel is good. It is a low bodied beer with good carbonation. This is a good drinking beer, although I feel it's highly overrated. It doesn't have nearly the aroma and taste it boasts of on the side of the bottle.

WesWes, Mar 25, 2005
Photo of jwc215
4.28/5  rDev +18.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

Pours bright straw yellow with a thick, fluffy white head that leaves rings of foamy lacing.

The smell is of lemongrass with grainy honeyish sweetness.

The taste is grainy and lemony. Sweetness becomes a bitterish, woody dryness in a crisp, refreshing finish.

Refreshingly light-bodied and crisp. Thirst-quenchingly clean and dry. Laid-back carbonation helps give it an incredible smoothness.

Extrememly drinkable. Has a cask-like character to it. I can imagine this being awesome, to say the least, poured fresh from a cask. I could happily drink this all day - esp. in the summer, but any time of year. It has subtle complexities with both a nice malty and hoppy character. Well-balanced and very smooth. A unique brew for the style that works very well.

jwc215, Jul 08, 2008
Photo of Rochefort10nh
5/5  rDev +38.1%

Rochefort10nh, Nov 26, 2011
Photo of BlackHaddock
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?

BlackHaddock, Oct 08, 2011
Photo of GClarkage
3.83/5  rDev +5.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

10/28/06- Purchased at Ledgers Liquors in Berkeley, CA.

Presentation- 16.9oz bottle with no freshness info. Poured into a standard pint glass.

Appearance- Light amber in color. Minor 1/4 inch or less head. Leaves behind decent patches of lace.

Smell- Pretty strong citrus hops with some mild toasted malt notes.

Taste- Nice orange and lemon hop flavor...a bit of grapefruit as well. Very light malty backbone. Enought to make it pretty well rounded. Light bitter aftertaste.

Mouthfeel- A dry finish beer with medium carbonation.

Drinkability- Reminds me a lot of a hoppy freshly brewed blonde ale. Really refreshing.

GClarkage, Mar 10, 2007
Photo of wl0307
4/5  rDev +10.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bottle-conditioned, BB 09/05/09, served cool in a straight imperial pint glass.

A: pours a brilliantly clear, moderately carbonated light-golden hue, topped with a white cottony frothy head that slowly retreats into a white rim.
S: lightly stinky-earthy hay, an herbal edge of wild flower, and dried-tangerine-rind hops skirt the main theme of citric fruitiness; a swirl brings out a lightly mineral touch of yeastiness added to very clean & light-bodied maltiness that suggests a touch of raw-ish, powdery wheat-malts.
T: an earthy-nutty (a bit like wet peanuts with shells!) and lightly salty-sweet yeasty foretaste, citrus-fruits, and juicy pale malts approach upfront in harmony, gradually deepening along with an increasingly tangy hop bitterness (like Challenger)... A semi-powdery undertone of wheat-malts lingers along with rather clean bitter-sweet aftertaste.
M&D: crisp for a golden bitter, it drinks absolutely refreshing yet also smooth, thanks to the attenuated carbonation level. Although it's not as flavoursome and assertively hoppy as the cask version (when served absolutely fresh), this RAIB version is still a full-flavoured but light-bodied and quaffable hoppy golden bitter.

wl0307, Jul 29, 2008
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.

akorsak, Nov 06, 2011
Photo of rhoadsrage
2.88/5  rDev -20.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.5

(Served in an imperial pint glass)

A- This beer has a straw yellow clear body with a big white head of huge bubbles and a boil of carbonation made up of tiny bubbles.

S- The smell of very light faint fresh grain is soft but pleasant. There is a very faint green note that is not distinctly hops but is plant material.

T- This beer has a faint fresh light grain note that leads into a faint lemon, green hop note. All of that is quickly overpowered by a carbonic acid flavor that finish the taste. As it warms the hop flavor turns more lemony and kefir lime notes.

M- This beer has a light mouthfeel with a strong fizz finish.

D- Don't believe the hype on the bottle. I feel like this is a English bitter that is "dumbed down" with a nice label for the American market. It would be nice to taste some more of the malt and turn down the carbonation.

rhoadsrage, May 18, 2006
Photo of jdhilt
2.95/5  rDev -18.5%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Pours with a white stiff head that stays and leaves a lot of lace. Light straw colored that is cloudy from the bottle conditioning. A lot of yeast stuck on the side of the bottle at the top - unusual. Expiration date was 4-9-03 but the flavor was fine, finishes hoppy but this is a light summer brew.

jdhilt, Jun 17, 2003
Photo of Wasatch
4.33/5  rDev +19.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a nice hazy pale yellow color, nice carbonation, nice littlye creamy white head, which leaves alot of sticky lacing behind. The nose is hoppy, bitter, and slightly sour. The taste is hoppy, bitter, with some sourness. Medium body, with some nice bitterness. Very drinkable, this is a very tasty English Bitter.

Wasatch, Jul 13, 2008
Photo of BillRoth
3.75/5  rDev +3.6%

BillRoth, Dec 07, 2013
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.

ppoitras, Feb 13, 2005
Photo of biegaman
3.63/5  rDev +0.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Hot neon banana peel that despite its incandescence is not nearly as brilliant as actual lightning. What I mean to say is that, sure, the colour is luminous, almost blindingly so against the light, but beyond that it isn't much to look at. Its clarity is smeared as if someone's greasy fingers were all over the glass and its head is depleted, sunken like a crater. There's no electricity yet...

A hop back is a sealed chamber full of hops through which the wort (unfermented beer) passes before being cooled and then going into the fermentation tanks. What it does is impart and essentially trap additional hop aromas into the beer. Despite the brewery's name it is very doubtful they used one for this offering. There's maybe a hint of Noble hop but it takes a lot of warming to unearth.

Oh, wait a tick... there's some hops in here after all! The taste has the typical British maltiness, one of dry crackers and sweet bread, sort of drab and flavorless, but then the flavours of fragrant summer flowers, savory herbs and citrus-kissed lupullin wash over the palate. It is an almost potpourri kind of savoriness that combines a bit of spice, plenty of grassy herbals, fruit shavings and flower petals.

The mouthfeel is half-way decent considering I'm sure much of what gives it its liveliness was filtered out and the remainder pasteurized and possibly even loaded up with preservatives. The bitterness is present but feather-light; it flutters over the tongue, powdering it in fine resinous, floral particles. Its filling, medium-bodied presence also comes with an authentically grainy texture.

Summer Lightning didn't create any sparks. To be fair, it is (by the brewery's own admission) a better beer in its true element, as a real - that is to say alive, unfiltered and cask-conditioned - ale. It's sort of like having a glass of ice-cold lemonade in the heart of winter, you can taste it but you aren't really *tasting* it, if you catch my drift. Hopefully one day I'll make it to Wiltshire and get a proper sample.

biegaman, Jul 17, 2009
Photo of plaid75
3.68/5  rDev +1.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Poured a dark straw hue with a one finger pillowy white head. There was good retention and lacing.

The smell featured a light husky grain with a lemony and grassy hop.

The taste consisted of a doughy light malt with a flowery and grassy hop. Slight ginger ale element.

The mouthfeel was very clean with a semi-dry finish.

Overall a very easy to drink ale. An excellent summer drinker.

plaid75, May 14, 2007
« first ‹ prev | 1-25 | 26-50 | 51-75  | next › last »
Hopback Summer Lightning from Hop Back Brewery plc
82 out of 100 based on 167 ratings.