Tag Archives: Double IPA

Brew Review: Ruination 10th Anniversary

7 Nov

Brew: Ruination 10th Anniversary

Brewed by: Stone Brewing Co. (Escondido, CA)

Style: Double IPA (10.8% ABV)

 

Stone’s Ruination Ale was the first double IPA bottled year round in the United States, they started that glorious tradition 10 years ago.   The original Ruination is awesome and a must have for hop heads anywhere.  “A liquid poem to the glory of the hop” might be one of my favorite pieces of bottle art from any brewery ever.  A perfect wording to a beer’s profile.   I picked up the 10th anniversary of that great brew ready for another amazing double IPA from Stone.  Let’s get after it.

The 10th Anniversary poured out a deep amber and very coppery color.  It obviously had tons of malt in there, clocking in at 10.8% that’s a given, with the colors that swirled in my glass.  There was a decent head to it, off-white in color and maybe a half inch at its peak.  Looked like an imposing double IPA, I could tell just from the look that this was going to be a big beer with tons of flavor.

The aroma is magnificent.  Mangos, tropical fruits, grapefruit citrus and pine all rush out at me and linger for the whole glass.  This brew is bursting at the seams with hops.   There is a definite malt backbone, there has to be with the ABV this high and with the ridiculous amount of hops forced into this one.  If you want a journey through what hops can smell like take a whiff of this beer.

The first sip is brutal.  The bitterness from the hops is huge.  The beer is resinous, a viscous brew that coats everything from your tongue, mouth throat and stomach.  It gets a hold of you and doesn’t let go.  The hops are totally the main show in the beer, the malt is just there to make sure our teeth don’t fall out from drinking liquid hops.  It is surprisingly drinkable, however, with this much flavor packed in.  It does cloy the mouth with all the hop oils but each sip is great and I have no problem finishing my glass.  There is a slight burn to it with the big alcohol percentage. 

This beer does exactly what it’s supposed to.  It takes the hop level and ups it once again and does it in a well crafted way.  The oily texture to the beer was a little off-putting but the aroma that bursts out of this beer is phenomenal.  I would probably drink the original Ruination over this in the future just because I don’t need all the booze and so much packed into one bottle.  The ruination was really so good that there was no reason to try to make it better. 

 

Final Grade: B+/A-

Brew Review: Hop Henge

25 Oct

Brew: Hop Henge (Bond Street Series)

Brewed by: Deschutes Brewery (Bend, OR)

Style: American IPA/Double IPA (8.96% ABV)

 

Deschutes Brewery is easily one of my favorite smaller breweries in the world.  One of the first breweries I was introduced to besides Summit here in St. Paul.  I worked out in Idaho for a summer and one of the guys I worked with had a connection with the brewery and would also pick up a 6-er of Mirror Pond or Black Butte and I was hooked.  Actually his dad was one of the engineers at the brewery and I should be bothering him probably every day to see if his dad can get me a job or something.   Anyway, since that summer (age unknown) I was stuck on this brewery and since then every time I go back and have a Mirror Pond or Black Butte I realize how solid even their year round beers are.  Thankfully they also take huge amounts of pride and care in crafting their seasonal and limited release beers which is where Hop Henge falls.  This brew is available between January to April.

Hop Henge pours out clear amber.  The amber is mixed with some nice orange tones creating a nice sunset looking ale.  A light fluffy head that is more off-white than white appears rising up a solid ½ inch.  A really solid looking IPA or Double IPA if you want to get technical. 

The aroma that flows off of this beer is dominated by the hops.  Pine resin and floral hops constitute a lighter hop profile with light meaning not syrupy or heavy but airy.  They still dominate but they are like a basketball player quietly getting 25 points a night compared to Carmelo Anthony who will loudly get his 28 points a night (and take about 24 shots to get those 28 points in the process). Along with the hops there is definitely a strong malt backbone that you can detect lurking back there.  I have a feeling that this is going to be a well balanced brew.

The taste is somewhat uninspiring upon the first sip.  The bitterness from the hops is there and in full effect, the malt is present to back up and balance (nicely I might add) the bitterness from the hops.  But past that there isn’t much to write home about.  There aren’t any nice flavors jumping out at me and I don’t get an especially creamy or sharp feel in the mouth. 

I would say that this beer is OK.  It has plenty of potential and delivers somewhat but I don’t think it really took it to the next level like it should have.  The hops have their place but the characteristics of the hops that I like to see come out, juicy fruit aromas and taste weren’t there.  Maybe I had an off day when I cracked this brew, I don’t know.  I know for sure that next year I want to give it another shot to see if it was me or the beer but at this point I wasn’t sold.  I’d rather go back to Black Butte porter and sink into its creamy dark delights.

 

Final Grade: B-

Brew Review: Double Trouble

15 Oct

Brew: Double Trouble

Brewed by: Founders Brewing Co. (Grand Rapids, MI)

Style: Imperial IPA (9.4% ABV)

 

Founders Brewing Co., out of MI, is one of the most consistent and top quality craft brewers out there.  They have great year-round releases, excellent seasonals and a rabid following for their one-off releases.  The double trouble is their seasonal double IPA that comes out in late spring or early summer.  Described as an IPA that focuses on the aromatics of the hop and tries to get the most of that aspect of the flower.   

Double Trouble pours out a light golden straw color.  Much lighter than I was expecting since this is a double IPA and clocks in at 9.4%.  Looks more like a pale ale or even a tad darker version of pilsener or lager.  The lighter colored beer is covered by a 1/8th inch white head.  Not the clearest beer but it just might be a chill haze that has shown up on the glass.

The aroma is awesome.   Ton of juicy hops burst out at you.  Pine, fruit, grapefruits and other tropical smells come out at me.  There is a faint hint of malt backbone in there but the hops and all their wonderful smells steal the show in the smell.   An amazing smell if you like hops.

The taste somewhat follows suit to the aroma.  There is a big hop presence right off the bat with bitterness on the sides of your mouth with juicy notes from the hops flowing over your tongue.  Immediately I notice that this brew has no detectable booze whatsoever.   The immense hop presence is balanced by malts but in a way that it just complements and doesn’t try to take over any of the glory that the hops have put forth. 

The immense amount of hops makes this brew maybe a bit hard to approach but if you handle an amazing hop aroma and big juicy hop flavors then this beer has everything you could ever want.  I would compare it to Abrasive except for one thing.  All the hop oils end up making the brew a little sticky or syrupy which made each sip consecutive sip a bit harder to swallow.  Nevertheless this brew is awesome and deserves nothing less than stellar reviews and lots of bottles sucked dry. 

 

Final Grade: B+

Brew Review: Detour

28 Sep

Brew:  Detour

Brewed by: Unita Brewing Co. (Salt Lake City, UT)

Style: Double IPA (9.5% ABV)

 

A brew from the Mormon heartland that is Salt Lake City.  I had heard rumblings that this somewhat backwards state had finally started to let its people brew beer above a certain ABV percentage, bout time I say.  I also heard however, that actually finding those stronger beers in Utah was harder than it was in other states.  Needless to say this beer had traveled a lot by the time I opened it.  I’ll start at the beginning.  It was brewed in Salt Lake City, was shipped to Chicago, I bought it in Chicago.  I returned home to Minneapolis with it in my possession and then went on a road trip out to Colorado to go skiing with some friends with this brew in tow.  Needless to say it might have been easier to find it in Denver and then just drink it at a much fresher date, but I brought it out on this trip to share with some ski buddies after a long day on the slopes.  This beer has been to more states than probably most Americans. 

Well on to the beer.  The Detour poured out a clear amber or copper color, a really solid looking double IPA.  You could tell that there was plenty of malt sweetness to back up what was an expected generous portion of hops.  Very clear which was noted.  There was also an inch of slightly off-white head that rose up from the brew making this a really good looking beverage.

The smell was full of hops.  The most resonant aroma was pine with some lighter grassy hops in there but mostly pine.  As some others of the group said, “I used to think that this kind of beer smelled and tasted like soap and gin.”  Gotta love the new drinker’s first takes on IPA’s.  There were some sweet sugars that poked their head up through the foam but I gotta give the W to the hops in the aroma here.

The first taste was filled with bittering hops.  Not in an overpowering or sticky way but in a great double IPA left-hop to the chin.  The bitterness was not extreme and you could notice the balance that the brewers found with the grains and sweet malts.  It was deceptively light and smooth while tasting and it never once felt as if I still had half a sip sticking to the roof of my mouth like some other heavy IPA’s are wont to do (looking at you Stone brewery). 

This is a double IPA all the way through.  Great hop character but with the cranked up hops comes the increased sweet malts as well which were well balanced.  Not as floral or fruity as maybe I have been spoiled on (Abrasive) but still everything had its place and it all fit together well.  Solid brew, maybe not worth the whole cork and cage and probably 7-9 bucks you’ll pay for it when there are plenty of other really good double IPA’s out there.

 

Final Grade: B+

Brew Review: Hopslam

26 Sep

Brew: Hopslam

Brewed by:  Bells Brewery, Inc. (Kalamazoo, MI)

Style: Double IPA (10.0% ABV)

 

One of everybody’s favorite releases in the late winter from Bell’s.  Hopslam causes a rush at the liquor store and an absence of cash from your pocket as a 6-pack of this runs you about 16 bucks.  This is a double IPA that is brewed with honey that has captured America’s hop-loving hearts anywhere Bells is distributed.

Hopslam pours out a yellow or light orange color.  It looks more like a pilsner or lager than a double IPA which can sometimes tend to more of a dark orange or copper color.  A decent half inch head rises up from the beer.  Not super impressive. Either way, the look of this beer isn’t really what concerns me, it’s what’s next that really counts. 

Oh boy, the aroma that comes off of this beer is inspiring.  Hops that literally slam your nose with fruit and floral notes.  Grapefruit, mango, peaches everything.  There is also some earthy hop notes as well that I think might be both from the hops as well as the honey.  The hops don’t let anything else shine through but in my opinion that really doesn’t matter as the hops smell marvelous.  There is a hint of sweet honey but very faint.  A great smelling beer.

After smelling this brew I was really excited to taste this liquid slice of hop. There is bitterness up front mixed with sweet honey for a decent first taste.  The amazing tropical fruit onslaught that hit me in the nose didn’t immediately follow in the taste.  It was dominantly bitter to begin with.  After a minute the fruit and floral notes did come back but not as aggressively as I was hoping for.  With the massive additions of hops to this brew it would have been hard to subdue the bitterness and with 10.0% Bells definitely tried but they didn’t really come super close.  The honey didn’t really set anything off for me but it did add a hint of sweetness that otherwise wouldn’t have been there.

With a touch booze on the back this was a decently balanced brew of which I preferred smelling a bit more than actually drinking the beer.  It was a huge, it really slammed me, with the massive hop additions and the high ABV this isn’t a beer to take lightly but for all you hop-heads out there this is something you will need to find once it comes out next year.  Drink it fast since the hops will only fade over time and this is a tremendous brew fresh.

 

Final Grade: A-

Brew Review: Hop^2

26 Sep

Brew: Hop2

Brewed by: Millstream Brewing Co. (Amana, IA)

Style: Double IPA (7.8% ABV)

 

I believe this might be my first beer from Iowa, our pretty bland and uninspiring neighbors to the south.  Needless to say I haven’t heard a ton of hype from the beer scene in Iowa so I wasn’t expecting much from this brew, although it would be cool to find some sort of diamond in the rough from down there.  I do like the name of the beer being hop squared or Hop2

The Hop2 poured out a deep orange color.  Lots of reds and copper colors flowed into my glass.  A solid looking brew with orange, red and yellow all mixing like leaves during football season.  A nice inch of head appeared on the brew which was also very pleasant.

The aroma of this beer was fairly dull, doesn’t surprise me coming from IA, with some faint floral hops mixed with some malt backing them.  The malts seem to dominate but the nose isn’t really giving any clues one way or the other.  Maybe a touch of honey in there as well.

The taste was very bitter up front.  The hop aspect is obviously present but the bitterness runs wild.  The malts show up in a fashion and try to combat this bitterness but don’t really balance it out in the end.  It is hard to put a finger on this brew if it is a hop-forward double IPA like Abrasive or malt forward like Double Bubble.  It did have a solid sense in the mouth with a medium body and a creamy feel. 

I think if the brewers decided which way they wanted to go with the beer, either highlighting the malts or the hops in this double IPA.  With one aspect to focus on they would have been able to push forward the good aspects of either of the ingredients which would overall simplify and create a better brew.

 

Final Grade: C+

Brew Review: Abrasive

20 Sep

Brew: Abrasive

Brewed by: Surly Brewing Co. (Brooklyn Center, MN)

Style: American Double IPA (9.00% ABV)

 

This is one of my favorite beers.  I will start off and say that right now.  Every winter is exciting because I know that Abrasive will soon be back on the shelves and I will get to enjoy the intense hoppy-ness of this delicious brew.  I will also start off this post by saying, it’s not cheap.  A 4-pack of this stuff usually runs me about 16 bucks or 4/can.  That’s definitely not cheap but it’s one of those beers that I will splurge on each year and buy 2 or 3 4-packs throughout the run just because I like it so much.  On to the beer.

Abrasive pours out a marmalade orange color with some yellow and light hints of red.  Basically looks like an autumn day in a glass.  Beautiful.  On the top rises a decent white head that leaves solid lace down the side of my glass.  In a dim room this brew looks like a ruby glittering in the soft light. 

The aroma is outstanding.  You can smell this beer from across the room.  Tons of grapefruit, apricots and mango.  The tropical storm that this beer contains is one I would gladly get caught up in any time.  The hops are all you can detect from the aroma, a hop-heads dream.  A wonderful dream at that.  A hint of piney hops also shines through which just makes smelling this beer a treat that lasts longer than 1 or 2 breaths. 

The taste follows the aroma perfectly, like jelly follows peanut butter or peanut butter follows chocolate.  The balance of the intense amount of hops with the malts is constructed so perfectly that Mozart would approve if it were music.  The bitterness of the hops explodes out of the gate but in no way is this too hoppy or over the top.  The malts are right there every step of the way to make this so wonderfully balanced that I am glad it only comes in 4-packs otherwise I would be taking a lot more days off of work when this beer comes out. 

This double IPA is so well balanced, especially at a time when bigger is better for IBU’s and hops and IPA’s that some breweries (see Devil Dancer) have gone off the deep end.  Surly has hit the nail on the head with this one.  On a side note they just released that Hell was becoming a year round beer and I for one was not happy that this beer was not chosen for that year round slot. 

 

Final Grade: A

Brew Review: Double Crooked IPA

17 Aug

Brew: Double Crooked IPA

Brewed By: Dark Horse Brewing (Marshall, MI)

Style: Double/Imperial IPA (12.0% ABV)

A gift from a fellow beer lover in Chicago, this came to me a few weeks ago. Somewhat excited for this one as I hadn’t seen it on my local liquor store shelves before so I was glad to have something I couldn’t get on my own. I haven’t even had the Crooked IPA, so the not double one, before so I don’t really know what to expect for this.

It poured out a dark malty color with some red mixed in there. A deep amber if you wanted to go further. There was a fair amount of head on my glass because it got a little bumpy in the car when I was bringing this one home, my guess is that the abundant head is not normal. This is a fair amount darker than I was anticipating for something that claims to be 98 IBU’s and a double IPA, looked a little more like an amber or red ale.

The smell is a mix of hops and malts. There are obviously a ton of hops in this brew that is apparent right off the bat but the malts seem to steal the show overall, there is more sweetness to begin with and residually than I think I would have guessed or expected. There is some definite caramel and toffee smells coming off this beer.

The taste is a bit different, right off the bat there is a ton of bittering hops that take over your mouth. The pine and grassy hops are right there to greet you at the door, but after that initial hop bombing of your taste buds the malt sweetness comes in. I would have expected the hops to stand out on their own especially the way the sip started but the malts really begin to dominate after that first split second. There are lots of hops, they are very bitter that still left me yearning for more hops that would sort of clean up this hop mess that Dark Horse has created. It seems to be one big syrupy soupy hop mess that doesn’t or cant find its own character of being either a true hop bomb, like Hop Stoopid, or a malt forward IPA. The bitterness isn’t balanced and the malts seem to show up and stick out like a sore thumb with no particular place to be.

Final Grade: B