During a quick stop at Beer Revolution, a local favorite for great draft beer in Calgary I enjoyed a pint of Brooklyn Blast. Blast is an Imperial IPA specially brewed by Brooklyn Brewery in Brooklyn, NY. Brewed with a blend of American and English hops to provide bright citrus notes as well as contrasting mild floral and grassy flavors.
Pouring a bright gold with a noted orange hue and a small tight off white head. The body has a few spritzy bubbles cascading upwards to the head. A fresh and floral hops aroma including some heavy hop resin and mild citrus forward notes. The malts are rather unnoticed in the aroma but come through with a mild caramel and toasted sweetness on the first sip. Moderate floral and fruity hop flavors build in the mid palate with a finish of heavy bitterness and overly astringent hops. The aftertaste is mild but has a lingering sticky hop essence. Overall, a fairly normal Imperial IPA and nothing overly special but a nice way to satisfy my hop craving.
Grade: 89/100 Price: $6.99 (12 oz on tap)
The newest beer from Deschutes Brewery to reach Alberta is the well lauded Hop Henge IPA an 10.6% ABV Double IPA with copious amounts of Millennium, Delta, Mosaic, Cascade, Centennial and Citra hops to 95 IBU’s. In addition, Hop Henge is brewed with a blend of Pale and Munich malts which should prove to give this beer a biscuity flavour profile. This beer was brought into Alberta with extremely limited quantities so I am grateful to try it so fresh.
Hop Henge pours a bright sparkly orange with a heavy fluffy off white head that leaves a tons of lacing on the glass. The nose has a bounty of citrus hop notes with a prominent resinous pine and overbearing grapefruit aroma. A small dose of floral and grassy hops are mostly subdued by the shock of huge citrus hops. A bit of forward sweetness on the first sip with mild caramel and toasted malts slightly calming the hop profile. Massive citrus and resinous hop notes overpower the finer and more subtle flavours leaving a heavy astringency. The bitterness lingers for quite a while but is not entirely overbearing on the palate. As I continue to taste Hop Henge a mild herbacious and floral flavour sits at the back of my palate in the aftertaste; a bit odd stylistically. Overall, a smashingly good Double IPA with a bit of uniquye twist.
Grade:90/100 Price: $10.49 (22 oz)
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.
Wild Rose is a local Calgary brewery located in a now defunct Canadian Armed Forces barracks. Wild Rose makes a solid roster of session beers spanning most styles but they really hit their stride with their seasonal and special offerings. The most recent (literally released yesterday) in a line of awesome seasonal beers is the Hoptimal Imperial IPA. Hoptimal is brewed with a blend of four hops; Summit, Newport, Cascade & Columbus. These hop varietals are indigenous to the Pacific NW and Cascade and Columbus in particular are usual suspects in Imperial IPA’s. Hoptimal is brewed to 8% ABV and is available in Calgary in 650 mL bottles and draft (select locations) for a short time.
Hoptimal pours a bright golden copper with a sheen of hoppy orange. The head is a thick and foamy mess that dies slowly to a marshmallow like surface while leaving a huge band of sticky lacing on the glass. Nosing the glass, a huge puff of resinous and floral hops with intense grapefruit aromas and mild pine scents. Smelling further I notice a hint of lightly toasted caramel malts and more huge floral hop aromas. Mild honey sweetness and light toasty caramel malts are quickly overtaken by moderately heavy hop flavors and a light acidic backbone. Big grapefruit and citrus fruits accompany floral and pine resin notes in the middle with an awesome smack of bitterness. The hops are definitely potent and poignant in Hoptimal despite lacking an overall lengthy bitterness. Warming alcohol and hops on the finish round the beer off well. This isn’t exactly the pine and resin bombs of San Diego but this is a simple and straightforward Double IPA with a great execution. The full bodied resinous smack is there with gorgeous floral and citrus hops combining well. A moderate bitterness perhaps lacks the overall oomph of this style, but regardless this is a simple but well done Imperial IPA.
Price: $7.00 / 650 mL
Located in San Diego, the Mission Brewery is a newcomer to an already saturated craft brewing center. Opening in 2007, Mission is the result of a few die hard homebrewers who found a home in an abandoned WonderBread building. After just a few short years and several awards including a Bronze at the GABF for the Mission IPA, Mission has solidified itself as a truly great craft brewery. Shipwrecked is a Double or Imperial IPA which is a style often attributed to have been invented in the San Diego area. Shipwrecked Double IPA is brewed with Cascade, Magnum, Centennial and CTZ hops to 9.25% ABV and 75 IBU’s.
The pour is a hazy copperish orange with a bright slightly off white head that puffs up well before slowly settling to a frothy finger. After the initial settling of the head, the frothy layer retains well and sticks to the glass well leaving large lacing bands on the glass. After a bit of admiration of the head, the first nose is prominently boozy with a nice rind of orange and lemon zest aroma. Definite aromas of grapefruit, floral hops, pine resin and a hint of toasted malts are all slightly hidden with prominent alcohol and hop aromas. Sweet toasted caramel malts are initially tasted before soon overtaken by a shock of resinous and acidic hops. Big citric grapefruit and orange rind notes fill the finish with a smack of sticky pine resin. The finish and aftertaste is increasingly astringent and drys the palate with a big hop presence and an overbearing alcohol pungency. Despite the presence of alcohol throughout the finer notes are still present with light toasted malts, caramel sweetness and floral hops coming through in the middle. In general, this is a solid high gravity Double IPA with big hops and an intense alcohol presence which in some regards does deter me. Regardless, Shipwrecked is a good example of the San Diego style of hoppy brewing.
Price: $7.59 (22 oz)