Stone brews a special IPA for their anniversary each year, and this year, their 20th, it’s Citracado IPA, an Imperial IPA brewed with citra hops and avocado flower honey. Like all Stone beers, the hops are important. This one is one of the hop bombs, so if you like Ruination, this might be for you. The nose is floral and citrusy, with orange and grapefruit notes. The middle has a ton of lemon and grapefruit, and sweetness from the honey over a big malty backbone that give it weight. It fades to grapefruit rind and pine bitterness in the finish, and is never subtle. The body is heavy and the alcohol is 9.0% ABV. This is a special beer, brewed for a special occasion, and it more than does it justice. This is an outstanding beer.
A double IPA from Triple C Brewing in Charlotte, Baby Maker is an American Imperial IPA. The head is light and fluffy and voluminous. The nose is lemon and pine. The middle is sublimely hoppy with orange, lemon, and grassy notes. The malt comes through in the finish as sweet, sticky bread dough, but still balanced by pine and citrus. The body is medium, and the alcohol is 8.5% ABV. A really nice Imperial IPA, and one I’ll definitely be drinking again.
Brewery Ommegang is a fantastic craft beer producer out of Cooperstown, NY, which, of course, is also known for being the home of the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame. I usually associate Ommegang with their myriad wonderful Belgian styles, but this beer is a straight-up Imperial IPA. The nose is doughy, with loads of orange and lemon. The middle is predominantly bitter with orange peel and pine resin with sweet and sour citrus coming back in the finish to balance out the bitterness a bit. The body is heavy, and the alcohol is an imperial but not unreasonable 8.8% ABV. The is an excellent exection of the style, and in my opinion will appeal most to those who tend towards the west-coast style IPAs with their overstated bitterness. An outstanding beer.
The Oracle is a big American Double India Pale Ale from Bell’s Brewery of Comstock, Michigan. The nose has lemon and caramel. The middle is loaded with caramel, orange, lemon, and a bit of pine. The pine starts to come forward and assert itself in the finish, but the citrus remains. This is a fairly simple, iconic DIPA. All of what one might expect, and not a lot else. It’s tasty and well executed, and a great example of the style. The body is medium to heavy and the alcohol is a stout 10% ABV.
Six Rights IPA is a double IPA from Sierra Nevada’s High Altitude series, designed to be balanced to deliver something everyone will enjoy. It is indeed beautifully balanced. Light citrus, tropical fruit and floral hops are on the nose, and the middle is heavy with pineapple, plum, bread, and orange, and pine and a bit of grapefruit coming forward in the finish. The balance of malt and hops is perhaps the most even and well executed as I’ve ever tasted in a double IPA. The body is heavy and the alcohol is a reasonable 8.0% ABV. Another outstanding beer from Sierra Nevada.
Hop ‘Em High is an American Double IPA from the Lonerider Brewing Co. of Raleigh, NC. The nose is caramelly and floral. The middle has sweet grapefruit and orange, a hint of pine and citrus rind. The finish fades to brown sugar and plums with just a hint of pine remaining. The body is full, and the alcohol is a reasonable 8.5% ABV, though this drinks like a bigger beer. This is a solid, nice American DIPA.
Orpheus, of Atlanta, Georgia, is really good at hoppy beers. I mean, really good. and Transmigration of Souls may be one of their best. It’s a double-IPA that Orpheus calls “overpowering” but it isn’t overpoweringly bitter; it just has huge flavor. The nose has lemon and orange. The middle has orange, grapefruit, pineapple and butter. The finish is smooth, without a lot of change in the flavor though a bit more grapefruit comes out and a tiny hint of pine resin right at the end. The body is medium-heavy to heavy, and the alcohol is 10% ABV and quite subdued.
Hopsecutioner is an American IPA, and a rather big one, from Terrapin Beer Co out of Athens, Georgia. While it’s styled as an IPA, to my senses, its closer to what I’d identify as as Imperial IPA than a standard IPA. It is heavily hopped (with 6 varieties) but balanced, so lots of malty goodness as well which gives it that strong resemblance to an Imperial. The foam is light and full, but dissipates quickly. The nose has strong orange notes, a bit of caramel, and some licorice. The middle has some slight piney bitterness, balanced with sweet bread dough, orange and some lemon. The lemon comes on more strongly in the finish. The body is medium to heavy and the alcohol is moderate 7.3% ABV. An interesting beer with the alcohol of an IPA, but the complexion of a DIPA.
On the bottle, Le Freak is described as a “Belgian Imperial IPA.” The Green Flash website expands a bit, explaining that it’s a hybrid of a Belgian Tripel and an American Imperial IPA. Interesting. The head is beautiful. Big and velvety, and it lasts for minutes. The nose is distinctively Belgian, with loads of fruit. The hybrid nature comes through in the middle with something I might describe as a battle between the sweet and complex Belgian, which is definitely here in full force, and the strong bitter west-coast style IPA that Green Flash is known for, which is just as present. There are spices, cherry, plum, pine, orange and grapefruit all mingling and alternately coming to the fore. The finish has some bitter citrus rind from the IPA, but is more Belgian in character with marmalade and a bit of licorice. The body is quite full and heavy, and the alcohol is 9.2% ABV, about what you’d expect for this style of ale. It’s probably not the next big thing, but it’s a fun mix, certainly enjoyable if you like the component styles, and well executed.
I’ve finally gotten my hands on a 120 Minute IPA. It’s immediately apparent that it’s big, with nose full of honey and molasses and lemon. The body is heavy, with a strong alcohol presence and the middle is punchy with the huge quantities of hops and malt required for this brew. There’s more honey, as well pear, apricot, pine and pepper making an appearance here. The finish is sticky and sweet, with orange and honey predominant. This is an interesting beer with an interesting niche. It’s not what you would expect of a typical Imperial IPA, more like a barleywine or Belgian Strong Dark Ale, but far hoppier than either of those styles. It may actually be a beer that appeals to whisky or fortified wine fans more than a fan of typical beer styles. It’s certainly got enough alcohol for that, at ~20% ABV. (Variable for each batch.) I’m very impressed with the construction. This is really a special beer.