Tag Archives: Double IPA

New Brew: Stone 14th Anniversary Emperial IPA

2 Jul

Another IPA from Stone Brewing? Not exactly Breaking News.  Long-standing standard-bearers of the West Coast-style pale ale, the thought of another amped-up IPA as a special release doesn’t exactly get the blood flowing.  Don’t get me wrong, they’re great at what they do and their IPA and Ruination are textbook examples of their styles, but when you see a special anniversary release, you expect something a little unique.  Stone’s 14th Anniversary Emperial IPA takes a page out of the Redcoats’ playbook and puts a decidedly British spin on a Stone classic.  The results?  A supremely big, exquisitely balanced beer that celebrates with style, 14 years of boundary-pushing, palate-crushing, quintessentially American brewing.

Stone 14th Anniversary Emperial IPA

Style: British-style Imperial/Double IPA

Vitals: 8.9% abv; Brewed with all British ingredients including white malt and Target, East Kent Goldings, and Boadicea hops; ~$6.99 at Barriques Wine and Spirits

Company line:

We went to England this past spring as self-styled “IPA Hunters” on a mission to learn more about the confusing and often contradictory history of India Pale Ale – to look for some certainty where those before us have found mostly mystery and mercantilism. While our success in this pursuit is open to debate, there can be no question that we returned home inspired by the ghosts of Burton and by the experience of poring over 150-year old brewer’s logs handwritten in (India?) ink. Stone Brewing Co., after all, traces its lineage back to the British Empire’s brewing history: we make ales, and all of our original offerings used traditional British styles as a jumping-off point. If this seems a roundabout way of letting you know that, yes, we are in fact brewing another IPA to mark our Anniversary, well, so be it.

This one however, promises to be different! From the imported white malt to the “Burtonised” water to the rare yeast strain to the most pungent hops Kent has to offer, we used all British ingredients to brew our “Emperial” IPA.* While we may have brewed Stone 14th Anniversary Emperial IPA with our own distinctively modern, San Diego-style touch, what good is history if you can’t rewrite it to suit your tastes?

In this case, our tastes called for highly intemperate quantities of Target, East Kent Goldings, and Boadicea hops, bestowing upon this dry-bodied ale a powerfully spicy, earthy aroma. On the palate, peppery hops assert themselves early and often, with malt sweetness making a brief appearance before being beaten back by a long, complex, and decisively bitter finish. What better way to contemplate the fate of empires past, present, and future?

My take: pours a striking goldenrod in the glass under ample white foam.  Aroma is intensely herbal with notes of bitter lemon, pepper, and sweet malt.  Cracked pepper and herbal, resinous hops slam the forepalate, with lightly sweet, slightly biscuity malt carrying through to grassy, bitter citrus peel finish.  Body is light and drinkability high for the strength.

This is certainly a different take on an imperial IPA for Stone.  Torch-bearers for the Southern California School of juicy, dank, super-hopped pale ales with amped up, sticky sweet malt backbones.  While no-less Super-sized on the hops front, the Emperial retains the grassy, herbal bitterness and dry, biscuity malt profile of more traditional British IPAs and the result is intriguing.  Much like our representatives on the football pitch, Stone has managed to play the strengths of the English and American camps to a perfect draw.  Extreme-minded American palates might be yearning for more punishment, but a little bit of balance goes a long way with this commemorative brew.


New Brew: Central Waters Illumination Double IPA

30 Jun

Today’s review will also be my first featured over at one of my new homes, Madison Beer Review. Don’t worry, loyal followers (you’re out there, right?), I’ll still be posting here with the same piss and vinegar as always.

Central Waters Brewing out of Amherst, WI has made quite a name for itself over the past couple years with a series of big beers that spoke to the then-current trend in craft brewing – bourbon barrel aging (it would seem that the Belgian-stlyle pale or IPA is the next big thing).  Barrel-aged versions of their imperial stout, coffee stout, and barleywine put them on the national radar with high ratings on both beer advocate and Rate Beer (if you’re into that sort of thing).

Hoppy styles have never been a focus for Central Waters.  While I know I’m not alone in bemoaning the loss of their excellent Lac du Bay IPA (replaced with the solid Glacial Trail IPA), CW’s strong point has always been their stouts and barleywines.  Their most recent offering, Illumination Double IPA, marks their entry into the extreme hops category.  Could a brewery known for their barrel-aged takes on rich, malty styles pull off a tongue-scorching DIPA?  I was certainly willing to put my palate on the line to find out.

Central Waters Illumination Double IPA

Style: Imperial/Double IPA

Vitals: 9% abv; 108 IBUs

Company Line: “Can you say palate wrecker?  This Double IPA comes in at 108 IBUs.  As hoppy as it gets with a mouthful of citrus flavors.  Grab one today and illuminate your tastebuds.”

My take: pours a vibrant amber in the glass, producing ample sticky foam that hangs around.  Aroma bursts with pine sap, grapefruit, mango and apricot.  Palate brings clean piney hops, citrus peel, tropical fruit and bready malt.  Mouthfeel softens considerably as the beer warms and the smooth, spicy malt shines through the brash hops edge.  Some cooling alcohol in the finish, but overall, the considerable abv is well-masked.

My first sample of this beer, shared among a group of considerable beer palates two weekends ago, gave many of us an impression of cooked vegetables reminiscent of Oscar Blues’ Gubna.  While not entirely unpleasant, it wasn’t exactly desirable and distracted somewhat from the purity of the hop profile and robustness of its malt backbone.  I didn’t get any of that in tonight’s bottle, however, leading one to blame either inconsistency or wonky palates for the aforementioned vegetal character.  Based on my latest experience, Central Waters has crafted a crisp, juicy double IPA that does well to cut through the sticky June air like the lightning that has illuminated the night sky for so many recent nights.

Heads/Up//New Brew: Ale Asylum Satisfaction Jacksin Double IPA

8 Oct

satisfaction jacksin

Word on the webs says the new Ale Asylum double IPA that debuted at the Great Taste this summer has been bottled and is on shelves now in extremely limited quantities for $13.50-15 a six-pack. Interesting that they didn’t 4-pack this one like their other bigger beers, Mercy and Tripel Nova.  $15 is pushing it for a six-pack these days, but if its anything like Ballistic, I’m sure it won’t gather any dust on the shelves.

New Brew: Lagunitas Hop Stoopid Ale

19 Sep

Hop Stoopid

I’ve always had a complicated relationship with Lagunitas as a brewery.  An on-again, off-again type of affair.  While many breweries develop a sort of “house flavor” – a common flavor profile shared by several beers within a brewery’s catalog due to the use of similar yeast strains, hop varieties, recipe bases and brewing techniques – Lagunitas has always stood out as having a distinctly one-dimensional repertoire.  For as many one-off’s and special releases as they turn out, it seems as though the vast majority of them are hopped-up strong pale ales with a very similar overall impression or variations on that theme.  Don’t give me wrong, I like this one beer they seem to be repackaging over and over.  I just wish they’d branch out a little.  There’s a wide world out there beyond Southern California-style über-hoppy IPAs.  That said, here I am, sampling for the first time another double IPA, aptly named Hop Stoopid, that I purchased this evening on my first visit to the new(ish) Steve’s on PD.

Beer: Lagunitas Hop Stoopid Ale

Style: American Double/Imperial IPA

Vitals: 102 IBUs, O.G. 1.085, 8.0% ABV

Description: “So Hoppy that it threatens to remove the enamel from one’s teeth. – lagunitas.com”

My take: This one pours a crystal clear pale orange under a strangely wispy white head. Sifting around on the innernets a bit and subsequently deciphering the Lagunitas trademark rambling in size 2 font on the label, I came to find that this beer is brewed with no whole hops, rather an insane amount of liquid hop extracts and hop oils.  Apparently the amount of whole hops it would have taken to produce this beer would have no doubt clogged the mash tun and made an awful mess.  This revelation explains the clean and potent hop aromas and flavors present here that can only be described as resinous or oily.  Absent is any kind of herbal or vegetal hop depth, which I think would have made for a rounder product, but is certainly in line with Lagunitas’ clean house hop profile.  Also typical for the brewery is ample residual sweetness which, while a welcome respite from the hoppy assault, leaves one with sticky lips and probably a cavity or two.

The creativity of an all-extract double IPA is certainly novel and it does satiate that hop-head jonze that I am wont to develop, but I can’t say it has changed my overall impression of the brewery.  Ultimately, Lagunitas may be a one-note brewery, but at least it’s a pretty good note; and at ~$4 a bomber for a double IPA, it’s a cheap buzz at the very least.

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