The release of yet another Dragon Double IPA from Edmonton’s Alley Kat started me thinking of how many unique beers had been made in this series over the last year or so. I guessed 5 but after a quick search on Ratebeer I found the actual number to be 8. It seems to be a rather impressive feat to release 8 seasonal beers brewed as single hop Double IPA’s. Looking back over the series there have been some impressive ones, Blue Dragon springs to mind, as well as some less than impressive ones which I shall write off as experiments. Alley Kat Brewery has changed lanes and brewed the Plaid Dragon with a blend of previously used hops. Plaid Dragon is brewed with Simcoe, Cascade and HBC 342 and is bittered with Columbus hops. Unknown to many beer enthusiasts, the hop known as HBC 342 is an experimental variety with pronounced aromatics and a distinct fruity flavor.
Plaid Dragon has a bright golden body with a somewhat soapy off white head. A slow trail of bubbles poke their way up to the head as a light lacing ring forms on the glass. The nose is rather potent but floral with noted citrus and pine resin aromas as well as a subtle hint of vanilla and apricot. Overall the aroma is rather enjoyable and quite intriguing. Mild toasty caramel malts are soon overpowered with fresh grapefruit notes and a hint of tropical fruits. Gorgeous floral and light spicy hop notes add a bit of character amongst the citrus packed flavor. A stilted and abrupt bitterness on the finish takes you a bit by surprise but levels off quickly. The nice balance and sweet fruity notes of the aroma are all but present in the unbalanced flavor profile. The taste lacks the smack of sweet resins of a good Double IPA and has a rather brash and abrupt bitterness that is somewhat off-putting for me. Despite this, Plaid Dragon is a unique and tasty Double IPA with juicy fruit sweetness and a balanced floral hop flavor.