Every Sunday, I take a look at five beers worth checking out. This week, we’re going to dive into some big Double IPAs. This is a style that tends to be big, hoppy, sometimes a touch sweet, and always pretty potent. Cheers!
Some beers are annual Events with a capital “E”. They’re like holidays which half the craft beer world celebrates. One of those beers is Bell’s Hopslam, a big, honey-dosed double IPA that gets drinkers scrambling when it’s released
every January. The beer has gotten enough interest so that Bell’s has ramped up production, making it easier to find than ever, but that doesn’t make it any less of a treat. Its robust 10 percent ABV doesn’t try to hide, but the huge kiss of honey in each sip makes the booze easy to ignore. Throw in sharply piney hops with a little citrus juiciness and it’s easy to see why people go nuts for it. Better grab some before it’s gone!
Stone Japanese Green Tea IPA
A few years ago, Stone teamed up with two other brewers – Baird Brewing and Ishii Brewing – to create something for their collaboration series. The result was a double IPA brewed with green tea that was a surprising bit of wonderful in a sea of DIPAs that had started to taste a little too similar. For a hop-bomb that comes in at over 10 percent ABV, this beer is surprisingly smooth. Soft herbal notes from the green tea make themselves known in the aroma and again in the finish. Meanwhile, lemon-tinged hops contrast the honey-sweet malts with near perfect balance. Tasty and just a little offbeat, this beer isn’t currently in production, but hopefully it will be making a comeback soon.
Flying Fish Exit 16 Wild Rice DIPA
When you think of double IPAs, you think of many things, hops chief among them. What you probably don’t think about is wild rice. If Flying Fish’s Exit 16 is any indication, though, maybe we should start rethinking that. And yes, it’s actually brewed with rice. If the idea of a beer brewed with rice brings to mind tasteless macro lagers, though, set your fears aside. This is a complex yet undeniably drinkable beer that gives off aromas of citrus and tangerine, and which drinks far easier than an 8 percent beer should drink. Herbal, somewhat juicy hops are front and center, but are balanced by soft, silky smooth malts that make this a total package with far better drinkability than a double IPA should have. This is one of the East Coast’s most underrated gems.
Pennsylvania’s Victory have been making great beer for over 20 years now, and more than a few of them have been forays into the wide world of hops, hops, and more hops. Heck, one of their best known beers is called Hop Devil. Among the latest in their line is Dirtwolf, a double IPA that pushes the envelope in a way their previous double, Hop Wallop, didn’t. This beer is dank and resinous, with aromas of pine forest and fresh split grapefruit. The hops—Citra, Mossaic, Simcoe and Chinook—give this hefty hop monster a wonderfully pungent bouquet of juicy citrus. It’s not one dimensional, either; the taste offers bracing, dry bitterness balanced by a bread and biscuit malt body that should pair well with all kinds of pub fare.
You want your imperial IPAs to be on the big side? Then I have good news for you: Maharaja is currently on draft at over a dozen locations around the city, and yes, it’s a big, big beer. At 10.2 percent ABV and featuring aggressive doses of hops, this is a massive sipping drink with a complex, pine-laden flavor, chewy malts, and a fragrant aroma that mixes oranges and Christmas trees in a wonderful way. Despite all that, it’s not pure bitterness. There is a malty backbone here that reminds you of sweet breads and toffee, adding balance to all those hops. In fact, this mega imperial IPA comes across as less bitter than your usual IPA because of it, yet still retains loads of hop goodness.