Hmm … so I’ve been waiting some time to try the big (BIG) bitter brother of Hopkins single IPA that I previously reviewed. There was the small distraction of some amazing food and a recent trip to Prince Edward County (and a lot of wine) that interceded between tastes, but we have finally arrived at our destination.
There is a tonne about this beer that reminds of its little brother. The head forms identically and the colour, while similar, is perhaps more brown than orange (inverse for the single IPA). The fact that it is also “bottle fermented” (sur lies) means that when you pour out the last third of the bottle, the colour will change (more brown still) and the heavy particulate (the lees) will enter your glass. You can clearly see it in the picture here →. The carbonation is the same (and still too much, in my opinion) and that mouthfeel still has plenty of diacetyl butteriness which reminds much of the buttery chardonnays I had this weekend.
With a whole third more IBUs, this beer is not surprisingly “bitter” and very successfully so. And perhaps owing to the double dry-hopping method, it avoids the papery astringency that typifies many unsuccessful IPAs that push past the 70s into higher IBU territory. This one will comfortably feel like someone has scraped your tongue clean in the morning and dropped a hop leaf onto it to rest. It really executed very well. There is also a very meaty 2% more alcohol in the bottle which adds strength behind the malts and gives the beer a very full taste. You’ll definitely taste this right after the first taste ebbs and the mid taste emerges. You’ll know this is a big big beer, especially as it warms.
Again, as you can see, the labeling is immaculate and perfect in its detail … and the able also provides a unique piece of information that distinguishes it from its brother: serve this one 2˚ warmer (yes, at 10-12˚) …. What does that mean? Bear in mind that your fridge keeps things at about 3-4˚C and the single IPA was suggested to be served at 8˚. As such, 10-12˚C is a huge difference and is actually approaching the recommended temperature to serve red wine. To sum it up: they want this beer served with a chill that is approaching ‘warm.’ Why? Because the flavours at that temperature are going to jump, be bigger and bolder, and the bitters are going to grab you by the ears, throw you on the ground, and slap you with your own tongue (visual is only optional).
Because of the large bottle and the fermentation method, I STRONGLY encourage you to serve this fully in a pint-sized glass all at once to ensure you don’t separate flavours. Served on whole and warmed up, this beer is quite amazing and worth many a bottle. The flavours aren’t particularly unique and they probably won’t “amaze” you – but they’re good and what you’d expect and want in an IPA. They’re citrus, apricot, and I think red grape. Some might expect more from double IPA but, call it what you will, this beer has balance and structure and I personally think it is the most texturally interesting beer I’ve tasted. The carbonation remains detraction for me, but this is more than made up by the best butteriness and yet cleansing bitteriness I’ve encountered. And yes, this is a $5 beer, but you’ll pay a whole lot more for a good pint in a pub and at 9%, you’ll want to take your time with this one and enjoy.
Stats: American IPA. 9% ABV, 90 IBUs. Sherbrooke, Quebec.
Colour: Medium amber with more brown than orange – unfiltered.
Mouth Feel: medium-high carbonation with a lot of cream from middle to end; clean, light and very bitter finish.
Pairings: A veal burger with coleslaw.