Last night Trevor and I sampled a few hoppy beers. We were too tired to get to the fourth (Goose Island Imperial IPA) but I’ll rate it eventually.
First off, Bell’s Hopslam, an Imperial IPA made with honey. I’m told this ages better than any other hoppy beer. We won’t really know because the bottle I have is from January of this year.
It pours a beautiful orange-tinted gold, lightly hazy. The head is creamy, lasts forever, and laces brilliantly. The aroma is strongly of fruit: peaches, orange blossoms, and grapefruit. It is a thick, somewhat sweet nose.
Immediately you get a strong floral, slightly fruity hop flavor. I note roses, orange blossoms, and apricots. The bitterness slowly grows to overpower the delicate flavor, and lingers. This beer is ever so slightly cloying, which actually balances the lingering bitterness. However, these long aftertastes do not get in the way of another sip. That’s dangerous at 10% alcohol.
Next up: Dogfish Head’s Burton Baton, an Imperial IPA aged in oak barrels. At first this seems like it must be more authentic to the history of India pale ale. Note that while Ballantine’s infamous IPA was aged in uncoated oak barrels such as the ones used at Dogfish Head, IPAs actually shipped to India were probably sent in pitched barrels to prevent any influence from the wood. Just saying…
On to drinking it. Burton, an almost clear copper, pours a good straw head. It has a light sweet aroma, somewhat herbal hoppy. There is also a significant caramel note and a little biscuit. I can also detect a bit of alcohol on the nose. Ethanol itself is not volatile, so you cannot smell it. A beer smelling boozy indicates the presence of fusel alcohols, a byproduct of warm, high alcohol fermentation. It is fusels that cause really painful hangovers.
Right at first you notice both a prominent bitterness and a strong sweetness. This beer is thick, and its sweetness is cloying, probably from the use of a large percentage of caramel malt. The oak certainly also adds sweetness and vanilla. The hop flavor is herbal and grassy.
I think perhaps the oak and the hops are competing too much in this beer. The hop flavor is too earthy. They would be better off using a lighter, more delicate flavor hop.
Last we have a bottle from the Tyranena “Brewers Gone Wild” series. This is Hop Whore, their Imperial IPA.
The appearance of this beer is not entirely appetizing. While it is a wonderful copper red color, there are some little chunkies floating and the head is somewhat soapy. The nose is great, though. A strong fruity hop aroma, peaches and some grapes.
Quick sharp hop bitterness, a little fruity and a little sweet. Notes of hop spiciness, reminiscent of cilantro. While it is pretty bitter, this fades and it lingers balanced. Very drinkable.
RateBeer: 4.0 (4-8-8-3-17)
Dogfish Head Burton Baton
RateBeer: 3.2 (3-7-6-2-14)
Tyranena Hop Whore
RateBeer: 3.2 (1-7-7-3-14)