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Hopback Summer Lightning - Hop Back Brewery plc

Not Rated.
Hopback Summer LightningHopback Summer Lightning

Educational use only; do not reuse.

169 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 169
Reviews: 150
rAvg: 3.61
pDev: 15.79%
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:
Beer added by: pezoids on 09-11-2002

No notes at this time.
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 169 | Reviews: 150 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of ThatWineGuy
3.48/5  rDev -3.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Yellow-gold colour would be less hazy had I not been careless on the pour - it's bottle conditioned alright. Low carbonation, white head, bubbly one to two fingers with a bit of sheet lace to begin with. Head reduced, ring remained with a few cloudy wisps. Grassy smell, yeast, floral but not that strong. The taste is simillarly mild, hops are light weight, pleasant, refreshing. Earthy finish with a bit of malt thrown in, bitterness is muted. This is an easy going summer ale that could easily be a sessional but remains pretty uncomplicated. Thanks to Jan for picking this up for me to check out.

Photo of ZorPrime
3.81/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 4

Thanks to Bobsy for making me try this beer. Tasted on July 17, 2009.

A: Pale yellow color with a very nice head (cloudy style, I like!). Sticks well to the glass. Nice bottle and sticker too.

S: Floral hops with light notes of malts. Some lime, maybe?

T: The taste is more hoppy than malty. Resinous taste in the after-taste. The bitterness hit you in the after-taste.

M: Meidum body, however feels thin in the mouth. Not bad.

D: Easy to drink, a good ale overall. I like this one to have more than one per night. Would surely buy more if it was available in the province of Quebec.

Photo of biegaman
3.58/5  rDev -0.8%
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.

Photo of shamus
3.53/5  rDev -2.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a honey blond with plenty of thick foamy head. A very interesting smell. magic marker!? and wet dog??! Well thats what it evokes but it's not as bad as it sounds. very wet and pearly on the pallette. light and refreshing with some odd flavours. A bit of a sour aftertaste, again not bad as it may sound. Interesting but not necessarily to my taste. I don't know what to make of this. it's quite different. Grassy after-taste; pear and lemon notes?
You'll have to try it and tell me what you think.

Photo of MeisterBurger
1.52/5  rDev -57.9%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 1 | feel: 2 | overall: 1

Pours a light straw color, slightly cloudy, the head being comprised of large, white bubbles. Lots of rising streams of carbonation going on here--pours almost like a pilsener. That said, it has some impressive lacing which is about the only good thing I can say about it.

The aroma is stinky floral hops, a bit acidic or vinegary or sour, and not much else.

The taste is gross. There's this off sour taste with a very noble, flowery/metallic-bordering-on-saaz-and-hallertau like hop kick to it. It has some nasty phenolic chemical like properties. It tastes really watered down, which is probably a blessing if true. There's a weird waxy taste to it.

Mouthfeel is thin and weak.

I don't like it. I would never drink it again. If I could undrink it, I would.

Photo of soulgrowl
4.17/5  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.

Photo of Lukie
3.78/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Hazy golden straw colour, with a firm head, which dissipitates into mild lacing around the ring of the liquid.

Slight honey, marmalade and flowery aromas. Slight hop resin, but nothing overly strong. Slightly perfumy.

Malty honey, with some strong citrus lemon flavours. There isn't heaps happening in this, but yet, it is well balanced, and enough flavour to enjoy.

A very nice mouthfeel. This is the definition of thirst quencher. Good flavours, while very easy to drink, and a delight to do so. I'm enjoying it.

Photo of puboflyons
3.34/5  rDev -7.5%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

From the 1 pt. 0.9 fl. oz. bottle marked 0708. Sampled on April 26, 2009. The look was a cloudy pale yellow with a very puffy, fizzy white head. It looked more like an American Pale than an English Bitter. Not dark enough in my opinion. The aroma is hoppy, mildly yeasty, and vaguely fruity. Again, not what I am used to in an English Bitter. The mouthfeel has reasonable carbonation and texture. The flavor was very sour and tart rather than hoppy. This seemed to have more of the properties of a Blonde. It was a pretty good Blonde but an average Bitter.

Photo of tai4ji2x
1.95/5  rDev -46%
look: 4.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 2 | feel: 2 | overall: 1

500ml bottle with "07 08" on the label. from the cold case at julio's in westboro. tasted in mid-march 2009.

golden straw with slight haze. moderate head is foamy, and developes really nicely on the second pour. fades to thin layer. very good lacing.

sulfurous and grassy hop aroma with lots of weird chemical notes. (phenols? fusel?) traces of yeast fermentation and grain. hint of esters, but overpowered again with the sulfur and chemical notes.

flavors are similar, with watery malt overpowered by grassy hop that is in turn then overcome with the chemical and phenolic notes, plus astringency and acidity which by this point is unpleasant, esp along with the otherwise moderate bitterness.

slightly thin and watery, with astringency in the finish. fizzy carbonation becomes overactive with the bitterness and again more phenolic/medicinal/chemical character.

more bearable as it warms up, with esters and malt starting to counteract the chemical note, which also lightens up ever so slightly.

still, in the end, this was not drinkable. AVOID

what a shame that this was my 500th review. blech...

Photo of SilentSabre
1.5/5  rDev -58.4%
look: 1.5 | smell: 1.5 | taste: 1.5 | feel: 1.5 | overall: 1.5

I cannot form the words to say how exceedingly disappointed I am with this. An English Bitter? Um..no, it isn't. It poured up like a hefeweizen, a light, moderately cloudy, fizzy thing. Smell was almost like a sour BMC sort of thing. Taste was like a mildly hoppy pilsner. An absolute disaster, IMO. I really had high hopes for this one, too. Pity.

Photo of yemenmocha
3.26/5  rDev -9.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours hazy golden color with generous white head. Nose is plain with wheat cracker, grain, and slight fruit. Palate is ordinary as well with light malt, slight citrus, good carbonation, and nothing exciting at all. Finish doesn't offer much either. Pass on this beer.

Photo of laituegonflable
4.17/5  rDev +15.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pale yellow when first poured, massive tower of delicious pillowy white head with great retention. Little bit of lacing. I think there should be more sediment but I'm using a 200mL glass and there's a lot of this still in the bottle. Gets a bit of cloud by the end.

Nose is ripe and fragrant, lots of fresh fruit, maybe a bit sour from underripeness (that is, the hypothetical fruit that these malt esters produce). A touch of banana, some passionfruit, guava even and a hint of strawberry - although that just may be a slight tannic edge. Good generous smell of hops blends well. Delicious.

Far more full-bodied on the palate than is suggested by the nose, and not so airy and fragrant. Rich bittering hop dominates with a slight grittiness which is not unpleasant but certainly unexpected in a golden Summer ale. The finish is extremely dry and feels like there's sediment getting caught at the back of my throat. It's not bad though, it's like a very good dry riesling finish. The star here is the palate. There is a rich bouquet of flavours here that makes it hard to pinpoint specifics. But it's slightly tonic, bitter and quite fresh, but bold and flavourful. Mouthfeel is a bit dry but mostly fluid, goes down smoothly.

A really interesting drop - chock-full of character and with a huge deal to like. Really pleased I bought this.

Photo of avalon07
3.7/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

A: Poured from a bottle to a pint glass. Had a yellowish color and a cloudy consistency. A lot of sediment. Had a quarter inch of long-lasting head and some good lacing.

S: This beer had a malty smell, as well as some mild hops and a little citrus.

T: Tasted of roasted malt, citrus and a bready aspect. There were bitter hops going down.

M: A good amount of carbonation and a dry finish.

D: This is a solidly made, drinkable beer that goes down easy. Not my favorite, but good nonetheless.

Photo of brentk56
3.56/5  rDev -1.4%
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

Photo of MrHurmateeowish
4.4/5  rDev +21.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

500ml brown bottle from The Lighthouse in Manchester. Pours a slightly hazy yellow body with a good half-inch of persistent off-white head. Smells like caramel malt with spicy, grassy, and citrussy hops. Tastes like bready malt with some caramel character, and just enough grassy, spicy, citrussy hops to provide balance. Light bodied with light natural carbonation. Flavors, while subtle, are balanced and pleasing, and this is a very drinkable beer for sure. A lighter example of one of my favorite styles.

Photo of wl0307
4/5  rDev +10.8%
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.

Photo of Wasatch
4.3/5  rDev +19.1%
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.

Photo of zeff80
3.8/5  rDev +5.3%
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.

Photo of jwc215
4.28/5  rDev +18.6%
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.

Photo of dsa7783
3.72/5  rDev +3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Single 1 pint, .9 fl oz bottle purchased from Buy Rite on Oak Tree in South Plainfield..
Pours a clear, lucid, golden-colored hue with a modest head, ample carbonation and no lacing...
Bitter, bread and butter aroma replete with a tinge of vanilla...
Taste was characteristically bitter, rendolent of caramel, vanilla, bread and butter and honey...
Slick, medium-bodied Bitter with a decent mouthfeel and a good level of drinkability...
Worth a shot...

Photo of nkruback
3.81/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Agitation was key for this beer. The head only formed when I failed to hesitate with my pour. Lacing was good, retention was standard to good, and the color was better. I love the clay deposits of yeast settling and sticking to the bottom.

Slight grassy nose, with bits of biscuit, Provincale crisps, lemon grass and shortbread.

Tastes of graphite, like when you bite too deep into a pencil. Complexities abound like a slightly chilled Sauvignon Blanc that's been chilled for about ten minutes. Fruity and tanic at the same time. The zesty citrus note saves this sensation, and doesn't so much balance it, but contradicts it. Fighting flavors, in my interpretation (not necessarily a bad thing).

Mouthfeel is interesting. Not cloying, not thin... Not memorable either. I liked it, that's it.

A good beer. I recommend it for those that haven't tried it. A nice example of the style, and a fresh, crisp beer from a brewery notorious for it's real ale.

Photo of Cresant
3.81/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.5

Poured this 500 mL brown bottle into an English pint glass. BB date 23-05-08. The body was slightly cloudy and light golden yellow with a pithy white head. The head was persistent. Sediment remained on the bottom of the bottle, this is a "real ale" after all. I brought this one home from London.

Smell was lightly metallic. Lemony. Fresh and floral.

Taste was snappy and refreshing. Tangy, with a light grassy bitterness. Pleasant, clean and flavorful.

Mouthfeel was zippy despite the lack of active carbonation bubbles and the low alcohol content. Medium bodied. Very nice overall.

Photo of brendan13
3.28/5  rDev -9.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

A - Poured into a pint glass with a slight haze. Centimetre or so of white head that quickly falls away.
S - Grainy aroma at first followed by some light fruit yeast esters upon swirling.
T - Again grainy but the fruit notes come through a bit more as well as some floral hoppiness.
M - Fairly light bodied with low to medium carbonation.
D - Not a bad beer but nothing all that exciting either. At $8AUS a bottle I could think of many better options.

Photo of emerge077
4/5  rDev +10.8%
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.

Photo of CharlieMopps
3.88/5  rDev +7.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: Poured somewhere between orange and yellow, with a white head of about a finger and a half that took its time receding. Only the slightest bit of haze, with bits of suspended yeast sediment floating here or there, but most remained in the bottle.

S: Has a rather clean and grainy aroma, much like a lager, actually. Light hoppiness in the bouquet that pushes the nostrils to work hard at detecting it. Smells rather mild.

T: More complex than it lets on in the nose. Introduction is soft and grainy, but almost immediately following is the hop bitterness that is assertive, yet still retains a rather mild character. Very English in nature, which is pleasing. Touch of caramel toward the finish, actually, but this is immediately replaced by a stronger hop finish. Aftertaste is a subdued and refreshing departure of hop oil.

M: Light bodied but very appropriate level of carbonation, which actually gives it a mealy character in the middle. Some hop oiliness present, but nothing egregious.

D: With enough flavor presence to keep the tongue intrigued, this one is worth a try. I enjoyed the subtleties and more assertive hop character that didn't kill the palate. I got a sense of freshness as well from this beer, and recommend it to those who think they've got what an "English Bitter" means down to a science. It may surprise you.

Hopback Summer Lightning from Hop Back Brewery plc
82 out of 100 based on 169 ratings.