Rating: 85 points
Stats: Double IPA. 8.5% ABV. Seattle, Washington.
Size: 650 mL bottle
Colour: Perfectly clear, warm amber
Mouth Feel: Medium-low carbonation, creamy with a dry finish
Pairing Notes: n/a
It seems only right that after my tepid review of an other imperial IPA (BDT’s Diable au Corps), that I follow it up with another review on the style. So I reached into my beer cellar and pulled out a beer had I bought a few months ago when the LCBO was showcasing various craft beers. It’s about the only reason I can think that I ended up with this one from far away Seattle because I don’t think the LCBO regularly carries this beer — though I expect many other North American readers have better luck.
Yes, BDT disappointed me for its extreme alcohol and and heavy heavy malts and while it was a tasty beer, it missed the mark as a beer in the Imperial style. The question was whether this long established craft brewer (30 years now) would deliver the goods with more authenticity. Could it balance the malts and hops with better success? The thing is, if you’re going to covet DIPA (double IPA) status, you’re going to need to lean on the malts in order to provide a modicum of balance as a result of the second hopping (which makes an Imperial and which puts the “double” in IPA) and the associated higher alcohol. I get that and accept it … but it needs to finish with the hops or it misses the mark. In other words, it needs to taste hoppy.
Pyramid’s “Outburst” provides a good conversation starter for what a DIPA should resemble. It is a gorgeous colour, like liquid amber, which is only accentuated by the fact that it is perfectly clear. The beer pour with minimal head and that which emerges fades quickly. This says that the beer isn’t overly carbonated, which is a plus, but it does suggest as well that the hops aren’t going to jump out either. A first sip confirms that this is a beer with incredible mouthfeel, like velvet on the tongue and butter to finish. But … and here’ the important but … the beer finishes strong and bitter. There is no doubt the malts are working their little tush on the catwalk here … they provide excellent flavour profiles in the way of caramel, a bit of smokiness, and some sugar in the middle taste, BUT they give way to the hops at the end as the beer finishes crisp, dry, and nicely bitter. The hops are there throughout with some grapefruit and grapefruit peel more than anything. There is a bit of sweetness in the fruit as well, though, which kind of reminds me of a canned peach (which makes sense to me given the caramels). But for a beer in the heart of the west coast, this isn’t one that screams west coast hops … which I would assume means that they didn’t use many west coast varietals in the process. Disappointing if that’s what you’re after (which I am) but that doesn’t make this a bad beer — it just puts it on a collision with taste buds across the continent that are expecting something different.
Where this beer clearly wins over BDT’s, however, is in the realm of value for money. When you factor in differences in ABV and size, this beer is still roughly 40% cheaper and for an imperial IPA, that is very reasonable. I won’t give this beer the crown of best DIPA out there: not by a long shot. However, in terms of value for money, this is an excellent option especially if you’re a hophead that still loves a lot of malt in your beer.
Read more of My Beer Reviews here ….