Hop Thief Ale | Malt Shovel Brewery

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36 Reviews
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Hop Thief AleHop Thief Ale

Brewed by:
Malt Shovel Brewery

Style: American Pale Ale (APA)

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 5.00%

Availability: Year-round

Notes / Commercial Description:
No notes at this time.

Added by DaveFL1976 on 03-20-2006

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Reviews: 36 | Ratings: 64
Photo of Andrewharemza
4/5  rDev +6.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Reviewing Hop theif no 6. Deep amber with small head. Light malty aroma with tangerine and light grapefruit. Light honey taste with toffee, biscuit, a little tangerine and lemon. A little bit of cardboard in the finish. Light bodied and low carbonation.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Photo of heygeebee
3.53/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Growler from Warners. Many thanks to MrKennedy for sourcing.

Pours a completely clear dark amber. Fluffy white head. Lines of lace.

Aromas of peaches, mango, tangerines.

Taste is a fruit salad hit on the front palate, then a somewhat duller back palate. Hint of honey sweetness. Hops are there, but not in a zesty crisp way on back palate. After a while a certain staleness grows, sadly. Big plus - flavour lingers for a looong while.

Mouthfeel is a little oily, unusual for the low ABV. Medium weight. Carbonation a little low, maybe from the growler.

Definitely up there at the top of the James Squire range, if not the Mad Brewers...

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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.

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Photo of Stew41
3.54/5  rDev -5.9%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

There’s been a touch of hype around this beer in the past and from what I can see on this tasting mostly well founded. Fluffy head on pouring but fairly short lived; leaves a residual spotty frothy cover. Bouquet is very encouraging with very lifted aromatic notes of fresh tropical fruits and passion fruit…loads of character but not powerful like you might see in an equivalent US micro. More subdued in the mouth but still shows the very attractive fruity, aromatic hop character. More passionfruit early but the palate sharpens up (as expected) with a firm bitter finish and just a slightly bitter, hop resin ending. Good stuff from a generally over-rated (IMHO) brewer.

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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.

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Photo of dgilks
3.73/5  rDev -0.8%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours a crystal clear copper colour with lots of visible bubbles flowing through the beer. Tight, lingering, 1 finger pale tan head with nice lacing.

Good aroma with grapefruit, passionfruit and a hint of menthol in the background. Sweet and juicy.

The flavour is good but disappointing compared to the aroma. Thin front palate with just a hint of malt and bitterness flows into a light, grapefruit hop flavour. The finish is a lingering bitterness. I can't help but feel that there is too little mid-palate depth to hold up to the back-palate finish.

Medium body with vibrant, above-average carbonation.

A tasty beer that just lacks a bit of depth through the mid-palate. Nonetheless, refreshing and worth a shot.

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Photo of Cs1987
3.85/5  rDev +2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance - Red, 1 finger of head which reduced. Good retention.

Smell - Plenty of fruity esters, mostly kiwi fruit.

Taste - Sort of like a milder version of the IPA, but here they have done a better job with the hop balance, creating a strong, bitter grapefruit flavour. The malt content is also higher than usual for an APA, but the malts don't stand out in the taste.

Mouthfeel - Medium bodied, carbonation is a little too high.

Drinkability - Again, like JS IPA but easier to drink.

Overall - Another very good beer from Malt Shovel.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Photo of ADZA
3.34/5  rDev -11.2%
look: 3 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

After trying the first hop theif ale i was looking forward to this one and to be honest it was quite dissapointing i mean it wasnt a horrible beer just nowhere as good as the first one,it pours a orangey amber colour which leaves a two finger head,as like the first the smell of this beer is wonderful it is very hop driven notes of citrus,pine and passionfruit come thru and on taste it is citrusy with passionfruit flavours coming thur definately nowhere near as good as the first and couldnt see myself buying any of this in the future.

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Photo of LittleCreature
3.71/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 3 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance - 3.0
Poured a finger of rocky cream to beige coloured head over a bright amber to copper body. Head retention is somewhat lacking, same goes for lace.

Smell - 4.5
Nice! A very hop driven aroma of toasty malt, citrus, pine needles and passionfruit.

Taste - 3.5
Lots of flavour, but not as nice as the original Hop Theif. As expected, it very much a hop driven brew, bitterness is moderate for an American style pale ale, tastes of citrus zest, pine and biscuity malt. Finish is rather tinny, no doubt from the POR hops.

Mouthfeel - 3.5
Somewhat sticky and syrupy in the mouth, low to moderate carbonation.

Drinkability - 3.5
I probably wouldn't get it again as there are better APA choices out there. Not hard to drink though, quite pleasant.

Again, not as good as the last Hop Thief, but still a tasty, drinkable APA. Less Pride of Ringwood and this could have been excellent.

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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.

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Photo of SimmoGee
4.03/5  rDev +7.2%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

I was suprised to see this as I was told that there was not going to be any Hop Thief this year. I am reviewing the Winter '09

A - A quick head that diffuses quite quickly. Pours a dark coppery colour with mild to moderate carbonation

S - A floral but metallic smell from the hops.

T - A tangy hop flavour that reminds me of strong honey.

M - A dry hoppy feel that lingers in the mouth

D - I vaguely recall last year's batch and it was quite smooth, sweeter and very drinkable. This one is nice but not quite as good.

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

Pours a beautiful amber colour, surprisingly small rocky head, little lacing. Strong thick carbonation, looks inviting

Smell is of noble floral hops paw paw and other tropical fruits. Nice bold flavours, strong hop flavours prominent from the start but well balanced with a complex, smooth malt profile.

High score in mouthfeel and drinkability makes this beer very easy to drink dispite its strong flavours. A good sessionable beer. If only it were easier to find.

Overall nothing amazing but a very tasty beer.

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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.

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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

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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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Photo of brendan13
4.04/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

A - Pours a golden colour with an orange tinge. Medium head that quickly falls to a thin whisper. Leaves genourous lacing.
S - Citrusy and herby, undoubtedly from the Simcoe & Tomahawk hops. I'm also getting slight passioncfruit hints.
T - Unsuprisingly, the big hop aromas follow through with the taste with a bit of grassiness & light biscuity malt.
M - Medium body with a crisp finish.
D - Very drinkable beer. These guys know how to make a pretty decent drop, and so they should given they are a craft brewery with macro money & machines.

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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.

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Hop Thief Ale from Malt Shovel Brewery
3.76 out of 5 based on 64 ratings.
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