Best Gluten Free Beers

Ground Breaker Epoch Fresh Hop IPA

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Ground Breaker Brewing Epoch Fresh Hop IPA

Brewed With Strata Hops

Today’s review features the Ground Breaker Brewing Epoch Fresh Hop IPA, a gluten free Fresh Hop brewed exclusively with Strata hops. These Oregon-grown hops are sourced from a Portland company called Indie Hops. The Strata hop was the first released from their breeding program, formerly known as  X-331. It was bred in Corvallis Oregon and is a descendant of the open pollinated Perle hop. 

gluten free fresh hop ipa

The 2020 release of the Epoch IPA is brewed on a base of sorghum, Eckert rice malt, and Grouse buckwheat malt. It has a 5.9% ABV and rests at 41 IBU. This beer contains 17 lbs. of fresh hop flowers per barrel.

Here what Indie Hops has to say about their Strata hop creation…

“An IPA/Session-IPA/Pale Ale (and believe it or don’t, lager hop) with many layers of different fruit flavor, dried and fresh, anchored with a dried chili-cannabis-funk that does not have any diesel, machine oil, or catty ‘baggage’. Late hot side additions bring out layers of rounded-tropical plus bright-fresh fruit flavors; dry hopping yields more grapefruit and cannabis.”

Below is the updated pour video for the Epoch Fresh Hop IPA. If you scroll past the 2020 review, you will find an older review I wrote back in 2017 for the same beer, only it was still packaged in 22s!

The Taste Test

Epoch Fresh Hop IPA

This beer pours with a lovely citrus orange color and a haze that allows plenty of light through but not much else. It has a rocky head that sticks around for a little bit. The hop aroma is intoxicating. It smells like I stepped off the plane in Costa Rica. Tropical everything. Heavy on the mango. :) I absolutely cannot wait to drink this beer.

The Epoch IPA is less fruity on the palate than it is on the nose. The tongue reveals more herbal notes and floral qualities…or as Ground Breaker puts it, ” tropical citrus fresh herb dankness”. Its mouthfeel is very dry and crisp. Epoch’s body is on the lighter-side of medium. The carbonation is light and supportive. 

When the Epoch Fresh Hop IPA first hits your palate the first thing you notice is the floral/herbal hop flavors, then the carbonation springs you through the middle of the palate, leaving you to enjoy its 41 IBU for the remainder of the experience. 

The gentle bitterness coats the tongue and throat and lingers after the swallow. It finishes the way it presents, very dry. I am really liking this Fresh Hop because it’s not at all sweet, but still makes me feel like I’m on the edge of the jungle staring out at the ocean.

gluten free fresh hop ipa

This is my second of THREE reviews for Ground Breaker Brewing’s fresh hop season limited releases. Be sure to check out last week’s review for the Route 20 New Englandized IPA as well the Fresh Hop version which will drop soon. Stay tuned. :)

If you’ve tasted the Epoch Fresh Hop IPA this year, drop a comment below to let me know what you thought of it. Especially if you’ve been enjoying it over the years and have thoughts on its evolution. 

2017 Review: Epoch Fresh Hop IPA

Brewed by Ground Breaker Brewing

Ground Breaker decided to double up on their fresh hop offerings this year. They kicked off their fresh hop season with this Epoch IPA (pronounced “epic” IPA), which was released at the end of September. The traditional Gayle Fresh Hop IPA followed a couple weeks behind, hitting shelves in early October.

Ground Breaker Epoch Fresh Hop IPA Gluten Free Beer Review

The Epoch IPA is hopped with fresh Strata hops grown at Gosche Farms in Silverton Oregon.  This particular variety of hop is a collaborative development by Oregon State University and Indie Hops. It is described as having powerful herbal and tropical fruit aroma. The Strata hop profile took 7 years to develop, and I can’t wait to see how it tastes.

Apparently Ground Breaker didn’t want to choose between an exciting new tropical fruit hop, and a well-loved classic forest hop–so they decided to brew both! They also brewed an “Estate” Fresh Hop Blonde Ale for their Gluten Free Fresh Hop Festival at the end of September.

Ground Breaker Epoch Fresh Hop IPA Gluten Free Beer Review

The Taste Test

Strata Hopped Epoch IPA

The Epoch IPA poured a beautiful crystal clear amber color. I detect a very unique spiced earth characteristic in the aroma of the Epoch IPA. It smells to me a bit like fresh edible flowers taste, when you throw them on a salad or eat them as a garnish. (As you may recall, I don’t have the best sense of smell when it comes to flowers, hence my connection to the taste. haha) The tropical fruit notes are prominent as well, as would be expected with the Strata hops.

This fresh hop IPA does in fact, taste very different from the Gayle. The fruitiness really comes through in the taste for me. But it’s not fruity in a sweet way. It’s fruity in a sharp and bitter way. It’s texture is very crisp and clean. The bitterness lingers long after the sip. It’s strong and consistent, yet not overwhelming. As you move through the tasting experience, the fruit fades away but the bitterness does not.

Ground Breaker Epoch Fresh Hop IPA Gluten Free Beer Review

That stubborn bitterness leaves your mouth feeling…what’s the word I’m looking for…fresh? The way that mint does. It’s both a taste and a texture really.

My friend Barb stopped by while I was reviewing this beer, so I gave her a taste and asked her what she thought. She said it’s aroma was super fruity, and the taste was smooth and tangy. Then she told me it was delicious and if I didn’t take it away from her, she would drink it all. Needless to say, I snatched it back right away…Haha

Ground Breaker Epoch Fresh Hop IPA Gluten Free Beer Review

If IPAs aren’t your thing and you happen to be within visiting distance of Ground Breaker Brewery, check in with them to see if they put any of that “Estate” Fresh Hop Blonde on draft in their taproom. Maybe you’ll get lucky and get the chance to try their lighter experimental.

The Epoch IPA is available in 22 ounce bottles and should already be on the shelves where you buy your Ground Breaker beer. If it’s not, be sure to ask for it! This is an experimental that no IPA lover should miss. Let us know what you think of it!


P.S. Like what I do for the gluten free beer community? Consider buying me a beer for my efforts! ;)

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