Hop Thief Ale - Malt Shovel Brewery

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Hop Thief AleHop Thief Ale

Educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

60 Ratings
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 60
Reviews: 38
rAvg: 3.76
pDev: 11.44%
Wants: 0
Gots: 4 | FT: 0
Brewed by:
Malt Shovel Brewery visit their website

Style | ABV
American Pale Ale (APA) |  5.00% ABV

Availability: Year-round

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: DaveFL1976 on 03-20-2006

No notes at this time.
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Ratings: 60 | Reviews: 38
Reviews by Kroehny_Loves_Hops:
More User Reviews:
Photo of doktorhops
3.51/5  rDev -6.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Here he is: James Squire's attempt at an American Pale Ale... a brewery that runs the gamut from ham-fisted mass-market beers (150 Lashes to be specific) and decent examples of how Australians really can brew a classic old world style (i.e. their IPA). Hop-fully (see what I did there) their Hop Thief falls into that second category. Also noted is the hop bill of Simcoe & Columbus hops suggesting this is actually a seasonal brew.

Poured from a 345ml bottle into a nonic pint.

A: The body is a clear deep rust colour with a slight beige foamy head, smack bang in APA territory right now.

S: Full and fruity hops present a passion-fruit and pine nose, with a big sweet caramel malt middle and a lingering earthy background note... it actually smells on par with a big name APA like Sierra Nevada so top marks there Mr. Squire.

T: Flavour lets it down a little bit - the promise of hops was bold in the aroma and unfortunately Mr. Squire is writing cheques that my tongue can't cash, to borrow a quote from Top Gun, plus there is a certain grain element in there that is a little bit distracting... like a cowboy at a rodeo in a Hawaiian shirt. Taste is pine/grapefruit hops with a certain earthiness and that odd wheat-bix note where delicious caramel malt should be. The finish is also too dry for an APA (should be bitter dammit!).

M: Mid to light bodied with a light carbonation (though that could be because it was drunk at room temp).

D: Overall a disappointment, however not because it was mass-market pandering but more like it was disjointed, hideously scarred for some reason, a real brewers Frankenstein, which is a shame because I do like Mr. Squire and his menagerie of attempts at making typical beer styles, and although he is hit-and-miss at times James's heart is always in the right place. Perhaps the next one will be better James?

Food match: Despite being weird in the malt department this brew is pretty balanced, I would say a grain-fed steak, fries and Diane sauce would suit this well... I've got grain on the mind now.

Photo of SmashPants
4.31/5  rDev +14.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Format: standard 330mL brown bottle, pretty standard James Squire label.

Appearance: pours out a clear, deep copper-gold colour with fine carbonation visible. A half-finger of thick off-white head lingers for a time before dropping to a solid ring. Looks pretty darn good.

Aroma: a pleasant, sweet pine and grapefruit aroma up front with a touch of biscuit malts behind. Reaks of quality.

Taste: again with the grapefruit and pine, some resin with more biscuit malts than normally seen in an APA. It is a refreshing and well-considered addition. Quite buttery also.

Aftertaste: that buttery taste follows through along with a combination of malt sweetness and hop bitterness. Great!

Mouth feel: moderate in feel with also a moderate carbonation. Brings the flavours through well, with a touch of sweetness on the finish.

Overall: one of the better APAs I have had to date. Nicely complex with a bit more malt than usual without diminishing the hops. Add a price of AU$52 a case, and this is one of the bargains of the century.

Photo of chogm54
3.82/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

Reviewing Hop Thief 6 (simcoe and columbus hops) from memory - had a few hours ago, with a hearty imperial stout in between. BB date of Jan 2015.

Clear, bronze with a decent frothy head. Fruity (tropical - passionfruit) and floral odours, taste was surprisingly fruity with a muted bitterness. A little bit thin and watery, moderate carbonation

Decent APA, but the nose is better than the taste. Better than most other James Squire range, if you can grab this at the same price like I did.

Photo of danieelol
4/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Hop Thief 6 (2014)

Pours an attractive amber with a hint of copper, almost a hint of purple. I like the colour, head recedes a little rapidly.

There's a pininess from when I first cracked the bottle- there's also a subtle paw paw and mango. There's a dose of James Squire's house character and also a pronounced "meatiness" I'm not accustomed to- not sure if it's from hops, yeast or malt. Almost has an odd note of port or fermented berries to it.

Taste is decently hoppy but in a soft way that slowly fills the palate- more mango and pine here. Also a hint of those fermenting berries (blackberries?)

Mouthfeel actually has a hint of sourness- perhaps I'm thinking of blackberry leaves? Also solid bitterness and mineral character, hops.

Both a hoppy and otherwise strange and unique beer. Definitely recommend trying this year's, will grab some more bottles if my fridge has room.

Photo of MrKennedy
3.1/5  rDev -17.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 3

16oz pour at 30 Knots.

Pours amber in colour with some golden highlights. White foam on top provides some spotty lacing and retains well.

It has a nice passionfruit aroma, strong to start with and stays with it for some time. Not a lot else to compliment it though.

Taste is a bit of a mix. At first it was a little metallic, then some stale passionfruit, before improving with fresh passionfruit and a little bit of chalky sherbet. A little tangy later on as the sort of stale passionfruit back end has an encore. Good at times. Not good at others.

Medium bodied, decent bitterness and consistent with it. A little chalky which helps it. But the tang of the stale passionfruit comes back to haunt it and hurt the drinkability.

Decent, but done staleness really does hurt this beer. Could be quite good, shame this wasn't at that level though.

Photo of goodbyesoberday
4/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours clear and gold with a moderate head that dissipates. Aroma of mandarines and rockmelon with a hint of fleeting cinnamon/nutmeg spice. Mandarine and slight rockmelon continues into the flavour with a nice light malty presence. Some slight sulphur qualities dissipate. Good strength of hop flavour plus malt-hop balance lend the beer a certain sweetness that is refreshing rather than cloying.

Lovely beer and well worth buying. I had heard reports that the new season's batch was lacking on hop flavour but the case I purchased lives up to its name.

[edit] Mulling over another bottle a day later, I think the malty sweetness is a little too overbalanced for what I think this beer is trying to achieve.

Photo of Andrewziggy
2.75/5  rDev -26.9%
look: 2.75 | smell: 2.75 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 2.75

Pine and grapefruit not to bad

Photo of CrazyDavros
3.19/5  rDev -15.2%
look: 2.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

Dark amber approaching a coppery brown. Small head fades rapidly.
Sweet floral hop aroma, some clean malt with a bit of caramel and toffee. Resinous, a hint of pine. Very enjoyable but not that complex.
Taste is too sweet - the hops don't manage to keep the sweet malt in check. There's a fair whack of resiny hop flavour, but next to no bitterness.
Undercarbed in my opinion. Almost watery.

Photo of Kulrak
3.93/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Pours a deep orangish golden color with fluffy white head that takes a while to fade away. The smell is faintly of spicy and citrusy hops, and not much else. The taste is very very hoppy. Citrus and floral hops, lots of hops. Not a whole lot of bitterness though. There's some malty sweetness there along with it. I'm really liking this. The finish is a little sour from all the hops, but if you like hops, it's worth it. The mouthfeel is creamy and heavy, not a whole lot of carbonation. Overall, this beer is very drinkable, especially if you're a hop lover.

Photo of eric5bellies
3.88/5  rDev +3.2%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Drank from my Duvel Tulip

A - Pours a dark honey colour with a large bubbled white head that reduces to a film.

S - Plenty oh piney notes here.

T - Hops, hops and more hops with a hint of sweetness at the finish. Mostly piney flavours balanced out by a little malt honey.

M - Light to medium body with well balanced carbonation.

D - The best one limited release from James Squires so far.

Photo of rec
3.65/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This years batch is the first I've encountered, and I was pretty impressed. While resembling Squires much loved Golden Ale it was different and intriguing, despite not neccessarily being better or worse.

The pour delivers a golden copper body with one finger head that dissipates quite quickly but laces remarkably well.

Straight after pour I stuck my nose over the bottle. The aroma is delicious, consisting of fresh hops, florals and unique light fruits such as lychee. Quite simply fantastic.

The taste is sweet, but not too sweet. Those lighter fruits come through too, with strong honey undertones upon first sip. Spice and hops are also present and help to balance that sweetness.

The aftertaste is flat and mildly bitter, and due to the carbonation probably won't be considered a session beer, which is a trait shared by most in the James Squire range.

I highly recommend giving this one a try, but I think I'll stick with the Amber Ale for my choice of Malt Shovel Brewery beers.

Photo of goatherder
4.29/5  rDev +14.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 5

a: pale gold colour. small white head which disappears quickly and gathers around the rim. lacing all the way to the bottom.

s: a little bit malty and a lot of passionfruit. this is one lovely smelling beer.

t: oh yes, i am impressed. the malt really takes a back seat to the hops. crisp, fruity and a sharp bitter finish which goes on for ages. there is a hint of alcohol there too, a bit more obvious than I would expect for a beer with this abv.

m: the ample carbonation really showcases the hops but also helps to overwhelm the malt character a bit. i would rate the body as medium - not to big as to affect the drinkability.

d: this is a definite session beer for me. an easy drinking ale, perfect both for a summer barbie or a winter warm-up session.

I am really impressed with this brew. As far as i'm concerned, this is one of the best widely-available aussie beers on the market at the moment. I hope they keep brewing it.

Photo of joecast
4.1/5  rDev +9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

hop thief version 2.0
best before 11/07

had this on tap a couple weeks ago. wasnt too impressed, actually, i was disappointed then with the aroma after being so impressed with version 1.0
we'll see what the bottle brings.

damn! what stands out on first impressions is how clear this beer is. light amber with little carbonation. forms a small off white head that settles to a few stray bubbles with little lacing.

now, the showcase of the beer. sniff...sniff...
hmm, its nice. but much more "standard apa" than v1.0
citrus, a bit spicy, some floral and sweet malt hints. missing the "exotic" feel of v1.0 which was easily the high point of the beer for me.

well talking about the taste seems a bit unnecessary now. anyway, good hop flavor and long bitter finish.
trying to put this beer in perspective. being a hophead, it finishes a bit flat, but anymore hops and it probably throws things out of whack.

man, would LOVE to try the two versions side by side. just shows what a change in hop variety can do. keep 'em coming james.

Photo of DaveFL1976
4.3/5  rDev +14.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

A two-hour lunch break between classes at Melbourne Business School provided me enough time to ride my bike to the James Squire Brewhouse on Russell Street and sample the new beer, Hop Theif.
Now I'm an admitted hophead. Guilty as charged. But I wanted to criticize this beer for being not hoppy enough, too hoppy, or whatever. The fact is, it's good stuff.

Pours an amber/gold colour with a chunky white head that sticks to the side of the glass. The smell is citrusy and spicy. Smells like Cascade to me, maybe a little Saaz? But a malty backbone is evident still evident and not blown out of the water by the hops. I would have scored aroma higher than a 4 if it had a little more hop punch on the nose.

The taste is sweet up front, with a nice malt character. That is until the hops hit the back of your tongue. Mmm, good. Nice balance. It's not overly bitter like I was expecting. Actually, I'll bet it has less IBUs than the James Squire IPA, but there's heaps of aroma hops (for an Aussie Ale) that give it the zing that I like in my pale ales. It's hoppy, but not overpoweringly so. It fits right into an APA style, in my books.
A full mouthfeel, but not heavy, and good carbonation off the tap. Drinkability? For me at least, it's dangerously good.
But then again, I use hop bags as car air fresheners.

Photo of Stavage
4.17/5  rDev +10.9%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Had to pour it pretty hard to get a decent head, didn't retain so well but left an ok lacing. Colour is a light brown amber.

Smelled of tropical fruits. I got a whiff of paw paw straight away. That and your typical floral hops smell dominates. Did its job well in making me intrigued about the taste.

Crystal malts lend some sweetness to the malt which blends very well with the aromatic hops. A hint of that paw paw/tropical fruit comes through with the taste, though it's nice and subtle. I'm a bit confused to be honest, I actually hate paw paw but I'm enjoying this beer. Finishes with a nice bitter bite. Be warned though this is not a hop heads delight. Focus seems to be on the subtleties of flavour and the hop bitterness definitely won't bite your head off. Suits me just fine though. I think the balance is great.

Mouthfeel is good. Medium bodied, decent carbonation, pretty crisp, pretty dry. I could drink and enjoy a few of these.

Not what I expected but fortunately I was in the right mood to appreciate this brew for what it is. Seems pretty adaptable do, I think this would be an easy pairer for food

Photo of rjimlad
3.13/5  rDev -16.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

I drank some of this last season and all I can remember is liking it. I can't compare with this season at all. This one poured into a schooner glass leaving a short-lived head but light lacing, There was an initial herbaceous aroma from the hops but nothing I could put a finger on. There is a good balance of malt and hop with pleasant bitterness but it's not that interesting. At 5% abv I found the alcohol a little too present which may make the mouthfeel too sharp for me. Maybe at 4.5% there might be some smoothness to balance the pretty fine flavours. In wine terms you'd call this "austere". Temperature is the key to getting the best from this drop and I'd suggest around 8-10 degrees. I think I started too cool and it improved in the glass over time. I had a Little Critters straight after this and was astonished at its superiority. Hop thief is pretty OK and I'd be happy to drink it again but I would buy it over LC.

Photo of Macca
3.65/5  rDev -2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

This pours very dark golden colour with a hint of red. OK white head which drops away to a thin covering.

When first poured all I get out of this is resinous hoppiness. As it opens up a bit the florals come through a bit stronger. A bit of sweetmess too. Passionfruit.

A pleasant drying bitterness on the palate. Some sweet maltiness.

Medium bodied.

Not bad especially since this is a style that doesn't usually rock my boat.

Photo of juju7
3.9/5  rDev +3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Amber bronze with a good collar of foam that laced all the way to the bottom. Plenty of fresh hop flower and muted fruit notes on the nose. Low-med carbonation with a good malt backbone and prickly bitterness leading into a long finish. I wish they did this all year round.

Photo of vincehayter
3.31/5  rDev -12%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

Smooth flavor with a gentle but consistent hop finish.

Photo of Bearded_beer_guy_
4.74/5  rDev +26.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Bottle into glass.

Look: a strong medium Amber.
Good pour with small head. Not sustained but not bothering me.

Smell: It smells like its name. A medium bouquet. Not too overpowering. Inviting if anything.

Taste: exactly how a pale ale should taste. A good floral aroma backed up by a very smooth palate.

Feel: not cloying at all. Strong first taste with an aftertaste that lingers but isn't annoying.

Photo of lamarr04
3.75/5  rDev -0.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Pours dark ruby brown. clear with a thin off-white head. smell is mostly of sweet citrus hops with a bit of sweet grain. sweet citrus hits palate first with firm caramel malt backbone through the sip. finish is resinous bitterness. medium body with medium carbonation.

Photo of vancurly
4.29/5  rDev +14.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

2nd release of this fine drop...

Light amber in colour, fairly heavy white head.

Big hit of fruit salad on the nose...pineapple, lychee, kiwifruit, passionfruit.... not as citrusy as previous edition. Maybe the NZ hops are gaining favour over the ubiquitous American varieties... With time & warmth, a touch of honeycomb lifts out as the hop notes dissipate...

All there in the palate.... partic the passionfruit. Not overly bitter... most of the hops must be in the less-than-20-minutes-to-go stage of the boil.

Malt profile is subdued, or should I say bludgeoned over the head by the H.lupulus... a light cara & grain component adds a nice counterbalance to the hoppy fruitiness. But as the bitterness is restrained, there is no overt need to ramp up the residual sweetness.

I love it. This for mine is the best use of hop varietals. You can keep your hairy-chested high IBUs.... but let me have the flavour of the strobile....

Photo of schoey
4.12/5  rDev +9.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bought from the local bottle shop after longish wait for them to get it in, this is a seasonal limited release from the malt shovel brewery.

Served in a pint glass, pours a nice light golden amber with large head which laces to the bottom of the glass. Carbonation is rather high, which is to be expected of the style.

Very strong aroma from the first waft, passionfruit and citrus dominate.

Strong citrusy flavour from the hops is the first impression, leading to a bitterness and a very clean finish.

Light mouthfeel which is complemented by the high level of carbonation.

This beer would be good for a barbeque, the high bitterness would probably be a hinderence as a session beer though.

Definatly one for the hopheads, of which I am one. A good allround APA, will be a pity when this one isn't available anymore as good APAs are hard to find at a good price in Australia.

Photo of BeerNutta
3.62/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Hop Thief Ale from Malt Shovel Brewery (2009)

A = Poured a dark copper with a thin foam head.

S = You couldnt smell the Hops at first. But as the beer warmed, the aroma of the hops and a hint of citrus started to come out.

T = For a JS beer this beer is definitely hoppy. The hop profile this year is not as crisp as the other years.

There is also a malt backbone to this beer with a hint of citrus orange. I cant help but feel, that this beer is nice but somehow lacking from other years.

M = Carbonated but not over carbonated. Good.

D = Very drinkable. Great to drink on a hot day.

Photo of lacqueredmouse
3.4/5  rDev -9.6%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

This beer was quite phenomenal when it came out. As unfair as it is to review the old bottle I've had squirreled away for a couple of years, here goes...

Pours a golden yellow hue with good clarity. Thick and fluffy head of white foam. Lacing is great, but the head does dissipate quite severely after a while. Pretty nice looking though.

Odd light fruit/banana phenols on the nose. A tad buttery as well. I remember this being exceptionally pungent when fresh. It doesn't stand the test of time, but it's still reasonably pleasant.

Pretty flat on the palate too; I remember a sharp, resiny bitterness. Instead, we have a light butterscotch diacetyl character, and just a thin phenolic bitterness. Finish has a pleasant bitter dryness, but otherwise it's pretty thin. Mouthfeel is ok, still gives a bit of a lift.

Overall, it's still pretty drinkable in this condition, but this was far better when fresh. I will fondly remember this as one of MSB's best brews, and only hope that one day they will brew up some fresh bottles again.

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Hop Thief Ale from Malt Shovel Brewery
85 out of 100 based on 60 ratings.