- Des O'Neil
Brew Review: Toppling Goliath Sun Reaper
Toppling Goliath has quickly become a household name in the beer world since their incredible flagship beer King Sue reached number one on Untapped a few summers ago. Since then, the brewery has been hitting it out of the park on pretty much every release we’ve been able to get
our hands on over here on the East Coast. (We still can't get ourselves any of their Kentucky Brunch Stout.)
Sun Reaper is one of their current rotating DIPA's and, once again, they hit the nail on the head. Featuring a variety of hops including Azacca, Citra, Columbus, Galaxy, Sabro and Mosaic, this juicy and fruity Double IPA punches you in the nose as soon as you crack open the can. Those heavy tropical fruit flavors follow through in the taste and are polished off with a piney and slightly dank finish. I will say that this brew is on the sweeter side which I assume Toppling Goliath was going for since there is such a strong pineapple and orange flavor/aroma presence. Mouthfeel wise, Sun Reaper is very pleasant: soft and pillowy with a touch of carbonation. Now, let's get into the hops:
While I don't really like Sabro-exclusive beers, I have enjoyed seeing them become more
mainstream as a secondary addition to elevate the complexity of a brew. As a stand alone, I find
them to be a bit overwhelming but when you add them into something like Sun Reaper with a
bunch of tropical flavors, it blends nicely- adding coconut, tangerine, and tropical aromas.
One of the other stand out hops here is the Azacca. (If you’re unfamiliar, stop by the store and I can get you acquainted with them. There are plenty of Azacca solo beers out there if you’d like to get a feel for what they taste like.) This hop provides heavy tropical notes to a lot of your favorite brews by adding them as an aroma hop towards the end of the boil or even as a dry hopped addition. Known for its notes of pineapple, mango, and pine, Azacca is a fan and brewer favorite that really comes through in Sun Reaper. I’m not quite sure when they add the Azacca in the brewing process, but based on the giant whiff of pineapple as you open the can, I assume it is as an aroma hop. Since 80% of what we taste comes from smell, the pineapple easily carries through on the flavor and is accompanied by ripe mango that ends up lingering through the back end.
The last hop I want to touch on is Galaxy. This has to be another aroma hop because the peach profile is amazing. At first I thought I tasted orange but after my second can it had to be peach. This beautiful but subtle flavor only seemed to unmask itself after I thought long and hard and really lingered on the profile. That being said, it really felt like a Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon situation because once I figured it out I just couldn't stop tasting it. Absolutely nothing on the nose but the fresh peach seemed to linger around all throughout the brew (like a stray cat that doesn’t want to be seen but quickly becomes your best friend once it realizes how many pets it can get). Galaxy is an Australia hop that’s only started to be used in US Craft relatively recently.
Overall, this is another great beer from a favorite brewery of mine and if you haven’t tried their stuff yet, head over to our store where we always keep an inventory of their selection in our 12-door cooler. —Des O'Neil
"Somehow, this beer manages to be both hoppy and malt-forward which is a weird experience in the mouth, let me tell you. There's a lot of bitter brightness on the back end, but it comes and goes on a wave of malty smoothness which does create a balance. Maybe it's because I've been enjoying a number of light, fruit forward beers, but I really struggled to pluck out flavors to enjoy from the complexity of this one (mind you, I could drink an entire case of King Sue—a Toppling Goliath stand out—on my own).
While I caught the pineapple aroma that Des mentions above, I really didn't get the powerful tropical beer experience that he did, possibly because the double IPA style tends to blow out my whole entire palate. If I focus on the idea of fruit when drinking this one, I can taste the suggestion of pineapple and peach, but I probably wouldn't if I wasn't actively looking for it. That said Sun Reaper is way more drinkable than other double IPA's I've encountered and I wouldn't say no to (slowly, sip by sip, and definitely not when thirsty / consumed by any inherent need to gulp) sharing a four-pack with friends six feet apart on a weekend evening." —Amber Rambharose