THREE MIDWEST IMPERIAL IPA’s
To Buy or Not to Buy?
1 = horrible
2 = bad
3 = average (many better beers out there, won’t buy this again)
4 = very good
4.5 = great
5 = rare best
A Note on the Style:
Imperial IPA, a.k.a. Double IPA. A friend of mine recently asked about the terminology. Rather than referring to increased ingredients or number of fermentation stages, “double IPA” is a nickname for “imperial IPA” (from the acronym “IIPA”).
Lupulin Maximus, O’so Brewing Co.
12 oz. bottle (4-pk) 9% abv, ? IBU.
From a bottle into a tulip glass, it pours a hazy amber, with a thin white head.
A reserved aroma. Sweet and grainy, rye bread, molasses. Pine needles, nuts, black pepper, and leather, all overlying the sweetness. Plus some citrus — lime, actually.
Sweet and bready up front. Some will call this cloying; I love it. It’s an adamant sweetness that tugs against the grassy hops all the way through this long, complex ride through flavor land. Brown sugar and biscuit, absolutely identifiable, here. Plus some diacetyl that makes for a butterscotch candy delight. Wood and grass shake hands with the sweet notes and introduce the hop bitterness. The sweetness becomes tropical fruit in the presence of the hops, mango, I’d say. Finishes dry and salty, a long finish of simple syrup and oak aging mellowness. The alcohol says hello before it’s done. And, yet, there’s something not quite great about this flavor. Too busy, perhaps? Still, totally impressive.
Wonderful in the mouth, viscous, syrupy, creamy, despite the moderate, cleansing carbonation. Mouthfeel is the raison d’etre, here.
Wildly complex. So many star turns for the various flavor profiles — bitter, sweet, spice, umami, salt, tart. Will definitely divide audiences due to its uncompromising, disparate sensations in the mouth. Cannot find IBU listed anywhere, but my guess would be around 70 – 85; probably on the higher end, to account for the intense sweetness.
Bell’s Hopslam, O’so Brewing Co.
On tap at Maduro, Madison. 10% abv, 70 IBU.
A beautiful pour in a Bell’s tulip glass. Inch of fluffy-snow head. And glacial lacing on the glass.
It’s often more of a challenge to write a review in a bar, given all the distractions and working on a cell phone touchscreen keyboard. That’s particularly true of a cigar bar. Great aroma in this beer, though the cigar smoke in here is obstructing any and all nuance. I’m getting generic concepts of high hop bitterness, a foundation of bready grains, and a syrupy sweetness that pulls it all together. Gonna have to find a bottle of this to try it again at home, as this is blowing my doors.
In the mouth the piney hops and candy sweetness team up to beat back the tobacco smoke. There’s only room on my palate for one alpha flavor. If you’re bothered by tobacco smoke, have one of these!
It’s noteworthy to find my favorite of these three beers to be the one with the lowest IBU (international bitterness units).
Founders Devil Dancer, Triple IPA
On tap at Dexter’s Pub, Madison. 12% abv, 112 IBU.
So lucky to have stumbled upon this Founders tap takeover at Dexter’s Pub. Classic kid-in-a-candy store excitement going on in here. Each of us have ordered three beers at once, all five-ounce pours: Backwoods Bastard (bourbon barrel aged imperial Scotch ale), Curmudgeon Old Ale, and Devil Dancer.
Incredible. Beautiful brown poor in a 6 oz. snifter with a finger of off white head. The aroma is surprisingly tame (maybe just too cold). As it warms, the bubblegum/juicy-fruit gum aroma gets enveloped by citrus and floral hop bitterness.
Triple IPA? Yes, with its 12% ABV and 100+ IBU, this drinks like an American-style barley wine. Listed at 112 IBU, the caro-syrup sweetness pushes the complex hop bitterness to the next level of palate phenomenon. Butter-caramel and plum/raisin in the back end. Very mild, fruity alcohol on the breath.
Intensely flavorful, like electroshock therapy to the mouth. Not as refined or beautiful as the Bell’s Hopslam, but definitely one to remember.