Hop Commotion from Jennings Brewery came as part of a well hopped selection pack I picked up from LIDL, basically it's a bunch of beers from breweries owned by Marston's, but at £6.99 for 6 I wasn't going to complain. Regardless of who owns them now Jennings are a proper old brewery based in The Lake District and I usually like their beers. If I'm honest I'm a little nervous about this one though. I don't usually go for hugely hoppy beers, and the idea of a strawberry flavoured blond ale just seems weird. I've had some strawberry and raspberry flavoured wheat beers before and they just weren't right, so hopefully Jennings have done a better job with this.
The beer comes in a pretty nice hop covered 500ml bottle, so it at least looks the part. At 4.1% alcohol Hop Commotion isn't exactly a big hitter, but there should be enough in there to get you merry after a couple. The beer pours a really pale almost translucent red, which I guess is appropriate for a strawberry beer. The head starts off decent but fades really quickly, which is a bit of a shame. This certainly isn't an ugly beer, and the red tinge gives it a slightly unique feel so despite the disappearing head I quite like the look.
Boy does this smell sweet. It's like taking a whiff from a huge packet of skittles or starburst (opal fruits for the older generation). There's certainly some strawberry scents in here, and I'd say some citrus too, but really it is a smell of chewy strawberry sweets. I quite like it. Hop Commotion certainly smells different to your normal beer, and having drank a lot of bland stuff in my time I'm choosing to take this as a positive. This really feels like it could have been brewed by a new craft beer company looking to try something different to break into the market rather than an old school 200 year old English ale brewer.
Fortunately it turns out Jennings knows what they're doing with this beer. The taste really is very sweet, which makes me worry about what it's doing to my teeth, but it's so smooth, light and tasty I'm choosing not to care. My nostrils weren't deceiving me this really is like someone has put a packet of skittles in a blender, added some alcohol and served it up as a beer. Hop Commotion certainly wont be to everyone's taste, but I really like it, and I like it when a brewery tries something a bit different as Jennings clearly have here. I'm going to give Hop Commotion 8.5 out of 10. It's unique, it's tasty, and you really could just have it for dessert after a meal.