Beer Style Wars: Double IPA

15 Apr

When I announced that this installment of Beer Style Wars was going to be a Double IPA comparison I expected more response than usual, but I was overwhelmed by the amount of people and suggestions that came in for this round. Big thanks to everyone who shared! From the list of 25 or so suggested beers that came in, I had to narrow it down to 3 for the sake of my tongue and liver. Russian River Brewing’s Pliny the Elder actually had multiple votes, so it was lucky that I just happened to buy a few bottles the day before. The remaining two spots went to Port Brewing Mongo and Green Flash’s Imperial IPA.

So, lets get moving on the next chapter in my beer education! Woo! The appearance of these three beers was pretty similar. The color was golden and a little bit on the orange side with Pliny the Elder being a little paler than the others. Mongo was a little hazy, and stayed that way during drinking. Interestingly, the head and retention on these went right in order. Mongo had the foamiest head that stayed around, Pliny the Elder was right in the middle, and Green Flash IIPA’s head was small and went away rather quickly.  BJCP guidelines say, “Color ranges from golden amber to medium reddish copper; some versions can have an orange-ish tint. Should be clear, although unfiltered dry-hopped versions may be a bit hazy. Good head stand with off-white color should persist.” So far so good.

The aroma on the Mongo and Pliny the Elder were quite similar, both had very distinctive pine and citrus aromas. Mongo had a grapefruit aroma come through as well. The Green Flash IIPA was very different, this was a little perfumy and had had a little of a spiciness to it. There was also an earthy smell, I want to say grassy. This all seems to be in line with the BJCP: “A prominent to intense hop aroma … (although a citrusy hop character is almost always present). Most versions are dry hopped and can have an additional resinous or grassy aroma, although this is not absolutely required. Some clean malty sweetness may be found in the background. Fruitiness, either from esters or hops, may also be detected in some versions” I think its very interesting how different the Green Flash IIPA is from the other two, and yet they all fit into the guidelines of how a beer in this category should smell. Just goes to show how much room there is for expression in the brewing world.

On to taste! The two words that I have written down for each of these beers are “Biscuty” and “Bitter” That basically sums up this style, the high level of hops has a strong enough malt profile to balance it. I noted that Pliny the Elder had a bright pine flavor, and the Port Mongo was a little maltier with a little citrus. The Green Flash IIPA gave me a different set of tastes, as I expected after smelling it. Along with the hoppy bitter, and malt biscut taste I also noted “Pumpkin seed?! orange, and the teeniest bit of anise.” A very interesting beer. And they all had a bitter aftertaste, not unpleasantly so. How did they measure up style wise? BJCP says, “High to absurdly high hop bitterness, although the malt backbone will generally support the strong hop character and provide the best balance. Malt flavor should be low to medium, and is generally clean and malty although some caramel or toasty flavors are acceptable at low levels. No diacetyl. Low fruitiness is acceptable but not required. A long, lingering bitterness is usually present in the aftertaste but should not be harsh”

 Overall, I enjoyed each of these beers! I don’t think I’ll sit down with three double IPA’s again in the near future, but for the sake of learning it was worth it! With another Beer Style War down, I continue to be impressed with the range of interpretation and flair that is seen within each style.  Yay, craft brewers!

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