Beer Of The Week: Hoptimus Prime

The further we get from the '80s, the less defensible the hero-toys look. G.I. Joes might've delivered creepily timed PSAs - oh, don't mind Doc hanging around outside your bathroom window, kiddos - but in setting up a reflexively force-oriented response to terroristic threats probably helped set the psychic groundwork for America's hyperjingoistic response to actual terrorism in the early aughts. He-Man pioneered the Ugg. The Gobots were just the Canal-and-Broadway Coach bags version of Transformers.

But those Transformers. Lo, before Michael Bay turned them into a carnival of slapstick flying metal shards, they were truly a toy to behold. No bullshit here; they were alien robots that changed into planes and sports cars and space ships and dinosaurs. They had an element of puzzle cube about them, so long as you diligently ignored the instructions when you opened the box. And unlike too many cornball cartoons, they had an alpha who projected an air of leadership you actually wanted to follow. Optimus Prime, the truck, lugged a handheld cannon and spoke with the kettle-drum voice of Peter Cullen. He was powerful but merciful, commanded respect among his allies and enemies, and most importantly was a huge alien robot who turned into a truck and shot bad guys. He was a true hero.

Ruckus Brewing Company out of Wilkes-Barre - from eastern Pennsylvania, the Cradle of Inebriation - has dared invoke the name of the baddest Transformer of them all in its double India pale ale Hoptimus Prime. Its label depicts a giant made of hops leaves and vines overlooking a city he's undoubtedly protecting. In one shaggy hand he's raising a stein with a nice foamy head and bubbles rising through its golden amber depths. Oh, and there's beer inside the bottle. It turns out to be a tangy, grassy brew with a strong alcohol presence (owing in no small part to the 9 percent ABV). The beer begins floral, stings the exact point on your rear palate that grapefruit juice hits, and leaves a long, hoppy aftertaste. (The recipe calls for five different types of hops, apparently.) It pits sweet against bitter in the fashion of a piece of orange peel. Somewhere in there is fresh bread and pine needles.

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Overall it's not a life-changing beer, but it's perfectly serviceable and has gotten me thinking of Transformers all afternoon, so I have it to thank for that. One wonders what kind of sucker one is to buy a beer based almost solely on its name - which merely adds one letter to that of fictional alien truck-robot. But we all have our soft spots for keen niche marketing. I would probably also plunk down for a My Little Pony Keg of whatever, just for grins. I would buy a 40 of King Cobra Commander or a ThunderCats Porter or a high-gravity TaleSpin malt liquor. Dear beer marketers: I'm describing a low-risk proposition. Mathematically every child of the '80s is of legal drinking age now, and many of 'em wanna get Skeletor up already.

Pairings for Sunday: Nothing goes with grass essence like the Chiefs at the Bills. The Ravens are visiting eastern PA and the Eagles. And Megatron plays in San Fran to close the day.