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Belt’s Beer Garden: Wired Up

Hi-Wire Brewing’s Man Eater & Hop Circus Vol. 5


This week I have a two-for-one, as both brews I showcase come from Hi-Wire Brewing.

Hi-Wire opened back in 2013 in Asheville, North Carolina and is one of the few circus themed breweries in existence. In the six years since opening they’ve blown up (in a good way) and now have three locations across the Tar Heel state and have quadrupled their brewing capacity.

You can find their brews in Georgia, Kentucky, Ohio, both Carolinas, and Tennessee.

Today I have their Man Eater, a seasonal offering, and their latest version of Hop Circus, which has multiple variations released throughout the year.

Up first is their Man Eater, a double IPA dry-hopped with Amarillo, Citra hop with some Doctor Rudi hops added in as well. It packs a big punch with an 8.3% ABV and 88 IBU and costs $14 for a four-pack of 16-ounce cans.

It poured a super bright orangey copper color with about two fingers of slightly tan head sitting a top the beer. However, very quickly it fizzled down to a light dusting but left a thick lacing as it did so.

On the nose this brew had an intriguing combination of hop flavors. There were some citrus notes (mostly grapefruit and lemon), some spicy pepper notes, and a dash of earthy/pine as well.

My first sip started off with a smooth, creamier mouthfeel and a heavier body with just a small rush of carbonation to it.

It certainly is a hop-forward beer as a solid, but not overwhelming, bitterness hits at the back of my throat and settles in for a while. Towards the front of my tongue, the flavors begin to emerge.

It starts with some grapefruit rind and a dash of lemon but doesn’t take long for the malts to add some bready undertones.

Fighting with the citrus the entire time are some earthy characteristics that include the pine and grassy notes. The pine takes the lead more towards the midway point of things but is soon attacked by the spicy Amarillo hop flavors.

Black pepper and more citrus peel flavors emerge towards the backend of things before the flavor starts to even out and begin its descent.

It ends mostly clean, with just a tiny bit of dryness, some stickiness, and a few lingering flavors. But, surprisingly, the taste that lingers on the longest isn’t one of the hop flavors…instead it’s a heavier dose of bready malt.

Man Eater is certainly a sipping beer and not one that can/should be drank quickly. It sits quite heavy in my stomach and the 8.3% is somewhat noticeable in this beer, creating a boozy burn in some sips…especially towards the end of the can.

It’s not a bad brew but a few of these will certainly eat up any person that attempts to drink more than one. A solid combination of hoppy flavors and biscuity malt but sits real heavy and can be boozy and bitter.

Next up, Hop Circus Vol. 5.

This version is a tropical white IPA brewed with Citra and Hallertau Blanc hops and flaked wheat but probably won’t be around much longer as they change it out after a few months. It costs $10 for a six-pack and has a 6% ABV with just 30 IBU.

Hop Circus poured a very light straw color with some cloudiness to it and minimal head. No more than a finger of white foam appeared and, in an instant, there was nothing left but a tiny build up in one corner of the glass.

Fruits certainly dominated the smell, with melon and white wine grapes leading the charge. A light lemony tartness sat underneath and was joined by light caramel and bready malt undertones.

My first sip started with a flash of carbonation that gave way to a light hop bite and those tropical fruit flavors.

Like the aroma had indicated, melon and grapes were the first flavors to hit my taste buds. That lemon zest followed closely behind with a hint of mango and other tropical fruits.

Midway through, a bubblegum-like flavor snuck into the mix but didn’t last too long because those white wine flavors quickly pushed them away. And, suddenly, this brew became like a brut wine – a heavier carbonation fizz, a solid dose of white wine grapes, and a decent dry feeling crept in.

From there the flavors in Hop Circus started to fade away and the beer ended really cleanly, with the exception of a light citrus zest flavor and a moderate dryness that lingered on for a few moments.

This beer was like half tropical IPA and half brut beer. It started off with all those tropical fruits and that bubblegum tastes but quickly transitioned into the grape notes and dryness that really dominated the second half.

It’s a solid brew if you’re a fan of both those styles but it seems to lack a true identity. Lots of good flavors but nothing stands out too much.