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Hopback Summer Lightning - Hop Back Brewery plc

Not Rated.
Hopback Summer LightningHopback Summer Lightning

Educational use only; do not reuse.

151 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 151
Hads: 173
Avg: 3.64
pDev: 15.66%
Wants: 14
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.
View: Beers (10) | Events
Beer: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 151 | Hads: 173
Photo of jwc215
4.28/5  rDev +17.6%
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.

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Photo of dsa7783
3.72/5  rDev +2.2%
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...

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Photo of nkruback
3.81/5  rDev +4.7%
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.

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Photo of Cresant
3.81/5  rDev +4.7%
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.

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Photo of brendan13
3.28/5  rDev -9.9%
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.

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Photo of emerge077
4/5  rDev +9.9%
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.

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Photo of CharlieMopps
3.88/5  rDev +6.6%
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.

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Photo of kwakwhore
3.58/5  rDev -1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Clear gold pour with a small white head. Small bits of lacing halfway down the glass.
Some grassy hops in the aroma along with a faint bit of fruit(peach?), and an initial bit of skunkiness.
Light amount of hop bitterness in the flavor. Muted malt accents and some fruitiness emerge as the beer warms.
Mouthfeel is refreshing with a nice amount of carbonation.
A refreshing summer beer, easy to drink, but not a really memorable beer either.

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Photo of DaveUK
4.3/5  rDev +18.1%
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.

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Photo of nightcrawler
2.82/5  rDev -22.5%
look: 4 | smell: 2 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

The pour produced *large* amounts of white foam, even though I was quite careful.

The beer itself was a light gold/coppper color.

I wasn't impressed with the smell or flavor. Not very different from some macrobrewed lite beers.

I could taste hops on the backside.

The body was fairly watery and I burped for about a half-hour after finishing the beer. A decent summer, lawnmower beer, but a bit overly priced for what it is.

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Photo of LeftyBWS
2.64/5  rDev -27.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 2 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: This beer poured very fizzily and with a lot of head. The color is a nice gold, with visible bubbling.
Smell: Not much, actually. Just smells like beer to me.
Taste: Pretty constant throughout. I can taste some hops in the middle and afterwards, but other than that, there’s not much going on.
Mouthfeel: Calm and a little watery, with plenty of carbonation in the aftertaste.
Drinkability: Certainly refreshing in the summertime. If I was outside in the sun I might enjoy it more and want another. Otherwise, it’s just a fairly plain lightish beer.

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Photo of rec
3.45/5  rDev -5.2%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

A crystal yellow body and foamy white head leaves you feeling refreshed before first sip.

On the nose I encounter grassy farmyard hopps and wheat, with some citrus and apple too.

The taste is dry and pleasant with orange peel and buttery malt. It finishes on a sour bitter citrus note.

Carbonation feels fitting with nothing rudly standing out as inappropriate... unfortunately it didn't stand out as anything better, either.

As its price on shelves here as an import is relatively high, I doubt it's one I'll buy again, esspecially with brews like James Squires Golden Ale so much cheaper here in the land of Oz. I can however picture it being a popular choice once in London next year.

A fine golden ale indeed. I'm not usually a fan of many English brews, but this was delightfully competant.

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Photo of JayQue
3.91/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I know this is a British beer and a British style, but if the Belgians made a lawnmower beer, this would be it!!!! This beer has more than a taste of Belgian astringent beers. Taste of cloves and banana, but light. The flavor is there but not heavy and pronounced.

Pours a cloudy dull gold with a totally huge, highly carbonated white head. A hard pour would have half the bottle spilling over a pint glass. Head holds up fairly well, very little lacing on the glass. Smell is not strong, but gives a hint of the flavor. Taste is good, I was expecting a malty beer, like an ESB, but this tasted more like an "ultra" of a Belgian Ale. Since it is so light and the flavor is good, drinkability is high.

A nice change of pace summer beer!!!

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Photo of Brent
4/5  rDev +9.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Good choice for a summer afternoon session ale. Poured a light golden straw. Moderate head. Malt was not prominent in the flavor profile, and the body was light and lager-ish, but not watery. Moderate hopping cleaned up at the finish. Overall a very tasty ale, perfectly suited for hot weather.

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Photo of plaid75
3.68/5  rDev +1.1%
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.

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Photo of PeatReek
3.95/5  rDev +8.5%
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]

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Photo of BEERchitect
4.3/5  rDev +18.1%
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.

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Photo of Monkeyknife
3.73/5  rDev +2.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Poured from the bottle a very clear straw color with a huge, bubbly, foam head. Patches of sticky lacing were abundant on the sides of the glass.

Aroma is hops and green apple.

Taste is malty and dry. Finish tends to be a bit sour.

Mouthfeel was light and smooth with practically no carbonation. Very similar to a lot of bottle-conditioned British ales out there.

Nice beer. You could enjoy these easily as session beer.

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Photo of BuckSpin
3.95/5  rDev +8.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Presentation: 500ml bottle in a classic conical pint glass.

Poured with much carbonated agitation. Nose has qualities of butterscotch, grapefruit, wet summer pavement, lightly floral, a rocky seacoast at high tide. Some orange pekoe qualities rise as it warms. Head was an excuse of a pinky's worth of very active, noisy, off-white foam that faded almost immediately to a thin sheen floater with no lacing. Whoa...talk about sediment! The slightly hazy brew, ranging from straw gold on the bottom to a warm, orangish gold near the surface, is filled with suspended particles not moving, as if where they stopped during the pour was enough work for one day, screw the laws of gravity and say "Thats it." Its hard to believe, given all the noise & activity that the carbonation made that there is none noticable.

Slightly creamy initially with very mild orange, butterscotch and a hint of room temperature honey tones, that quickly changes with a semi-dry, crisp apple cideresque rush. The malts are finally noticable on the palate as it warms, more citrus qualities (almost like a weak Witbier) some leathery tannins. I do find myself slowing down, not out of any taste burnout or high ABVs, but just wanting to chill, relax, take my time. I am noticing this trend more & more with beers of this style/genre. The "sessionality" of a good beer has much more to do with loitering, unwinding, letting go, not hurrying and rushing from one mild, easy to drink & low ABV beer (usually English in origin) to the next, and this is a good thing, IMHO.

It finishes semi-sweet & semi-dry, crispy malts, cool on the throat with a semi-sweet coating that leaves a mildly chewy aftertaste and a faint, bitter echo. The sediment, once rather fine & independent, is beginning to come together in larger clumps which do sink to the bottom, yet rise as a snowglobe flurry when agitated.

My biggest revelation of 2007 is learning to appreciate the "less is more" in beer styles like this, so once again I find myself enjoying the soothing, calming, relaxing pace of a beer like this over the actual taste. I cannot quite place my finger on it, but maybe I'm starting to get this. This was good, a nice, easy to drink English Bitter that would excel in warmer weather per its name. Could pair very well with any grilled fare, some light, soft cheese, shellfish, or just a good hot sandwich. There are much tastier beers to be had, but this is a nice change of pace. Nothing spectacular, but worth a summer's night lingering over good, simple food with a few good friends. Give it a shot.

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Photo of GClarkage
3.82/5  rDev +4.9%
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.

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Photo of Stephen63
3.6/5  rDev -1.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A - Nice light golden appearance with rapidly vanishing head.

S - Quite strong at start but fades quickly. Apples, bananas and yeast come to mind.

T - As expected from a bitter the hops are the main thing and good character for the style.

M - Nice level of carbonation and enough hoppiness in the finish to know you are drinking a "bitter".

D - Easy drinking beer without being spectacular.

A decent bottled beer that evokes images of drinking in a English country pub beer garden on a long summer evening. Now what would be really interesting would be to try this as a cask ale.

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Photo of geexploitation
4.4/5  rDev +20.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

Pours a very light gold color, perfectly clear, with a sticky head that leaves lacing and a collar. I'm surprised at how clear this is, given the bottle conditioning. Fine English hop aroma, combined with some sweet malts, monkey fruit and apples. On the palate there's a nice, snappy bitterness here that resonates like a rubber band stretched to the near-breaking point. Toward the finish the sweetness of the malts comes out, and adds a juicy burst to things, but this beer never veers over into "sweet" territory -- it's always very dry (which would make this a great summer beer). The finish is prickly and quite dry; it's bitter in the English way, not the American way (snappy not sludgy). Very lean mouthfeel, almost ephemeral, and very drinkable. This is quite a nice bitter overall. I would absolutely order this for session drinking, summer drinking, or bar food pairing (especially fried stuff like fish and chips). Very good.

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Photo of mdagnew
3.87/5  rDev +6.3%
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...

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Photo of DogFood11
3.67/5  rDev +0.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Poured into a small tulip it forms a big bubbly white head that has very good retention. Yellow body with slow rolling medium sized carbonation. Chill hazed or slightly unfiltered cloud.

The carbonation is aggressive and sizzles a bit up front and doesn't allow the beer to really develope. The backend hops are well done and saves this beer. The flavor is excellent once you get past the sizzle. Gets a little husky 3/4 of the way through. Slightly grained up finish. Mouthfeel and Drinkability intertwine in this beer because the mouthfeel is soooo sharp that it detracts a bit from the drinkability. Overall a damn fine "drop" of beer.

Notes: I'm really getting into english bitters and this one to me is a nice representation. More hopped up and on the dry end of the house for the style which fits my taste buds perfectly. Pick this up if you have the chance.

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Photo of charlatan
2.88/5  rDev -20.9%
look: 3 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

500ml bottle has freshness date. It is a rather anaemic straw colour and slightly cloudy with a minimal head. There is plenty of sediment at the bottom of the bottle. This doesn't have much of a nose although it is obviously rather yeasty. There is a faint fruity air. The taste is not unpleasant, but there isn't much going on here either; a pleasant light hoppy bitterness (I suppose that is why we are calling it an English bitter), a little sweetness, a return to an even fainter bitterness and, um, that's it. The yeast has surprisingly little direct bearing on the flavour.

Rather bland for a brewery with hop in its name (in Oregon that means, boom, HOPS!) and not as rich as I would expect a golden ale to be. Perhaps it would be called a summer ale in the US?

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Hopback Summer Lightning from Hop Back Brewery plc
82 out of 100 based on 151 ratings.