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Beer Review: Hoopla Pale Ale

In honor of the String Cheese Incident's 30th Red Rocks show, we reviewed keyboardist Kyle Hollingsworth's seasonal brew. 

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Hoopla, Boulder Beer Company, Boulder

Style: Pale Ale

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Serving Type: 12-ounce cans

ABV: 5.7 percent

Malty? Hoppy? Both, although neither dominates

Reviewed: July 2015


Two things inspired this beer review: the fact that festival season is currently in full swing, and that this Sunday marks the String Cheese Incident’s 30th Red Rocks show. The connection between the Colorado jam band and the Boulder Beer Company’s seasonal pale ale is Kyle Hollingsworth, Cheese’s keyboardist and noted beer enthusiast. The Boulder-based Hollingsworth initially collaborated with Boulder Beer after Cheese played a set at Bonnaroo, and he was struck by the hordes of overheated festivalgoers drinking mediocre brew. Hoopla hit the market in 2011, and every summer since we’ve been fortifying long days dancing in the sun with this session beer.

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(Read more beer reviews from 5280 editors)

You’ll immediately notice that Hoopla comes in a can, which anyone who’s dealt with festival rules can verify is a must (“No glass allowed!”). That being said, Hoopla is quite possibly the perfect summer beer. Hula-hoop dancing experienced resurgence with the String Cheese Incident in the ’90s and early aughts, and this beer is named in honor of those hoop-dancing pioneers who could not only hold down the art during Cheese shows, but could drink while they did. Light, but undeniably alcoholic, Hoopla is a more delicious, complex version of all the session beers you were forced to drink at college keggers. The beer has pleasant floral, citrus, and earthy notes, with a slight bitterness from the hops (don’t worry, it doesn’t linger). Although I don’t find the taste particularly memorable, Hoopla still stands out amongst pale ales, with a crisp finish and balanced flavor.

Hollingsworth, who first began brewing at age 16, envisioned the beer as light enough to drink in 85-degree heat and 90 percent humidity, yet with an ABV that could provide a sufficient buzz without laying you out completely. When I surveyed my friends as to why they loved the brew, they all essentially said the same thing: drinkability. No matter how inebriated (or hot from a long day in the sun) you are, Hoopla goes down easy.

(Read more: Learn to Hoop Dance)

Would we buy it again? Possibly in a can, but only if we are planning on grilling or going camping. If it’s on draft at a festival? We’ll have five, please.

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