It's been a hard month, loyal reader. Together, we slogged through the monochromatic landscape of Oktoberfest beers. Silenus* bless them, but Oktoberfest beers aren't the most vibrant and diverse bunch. To shock our palates out of their long stupor, and stimulate our brains, I'm launching a month-long exploration of one of the newest and most vibrant category of beers – Double IPAs! We're starting close to home this time and sampling DIPAs from Maine. In fact, Maine has so many great DIPAs, that I'm going to break precedent and taste several weeks worth of beers from one state. There's some poetic symmetry in doing a double review for double IPA, so hold on to your pints, loyal reader!
Baxter Brewing Bootleg Fireworks
Format Sampled: 16 oz can
Tasting Notes: Pours a vivid reddish orange with a thick scrim of white foam. Outrageously floral, herbal aroma rockets out of the glass – dried orange rind, hashish, asphalt and mint join pine and mango in an explosion of hop stink. Initial flavor is surprisingly warm and round – emphasizing citrus peel and spice characters. There's an oily sheen of citrus, conifer and dankness coating my tongue. “It's like an IPA-Jello shot!” says tasting assistant Ivan. There's a powerful bitterness lingering behind the warm fruit though, like the delayed sternum-shaking boom after a bright explosion of fruit. It's a powerful product, but the body is surprisingly moderate and it hides its 9% abv strength quite well.
Format Sampled: 16 oz can
Tasting Notes: Pours a pale, transparent yellow with no head. Aroma is resinous and piney, with undertones of fresh citrus, and wet, sticky herbs. Initial flavor is dry, herbal and immediately bitter, reminiscent of a digestif liqueur. The bitterness subsides, revealing grapefruit, lemon and orange flavors and a whole sachet worth of herbs – too numerous to elucidate. The body is miraculously light and slinky – an amazing feat for a beer this packed with flavor and alcohol. Alcohol, you said? A glance at the can reveals it's an ambitious 8%, but it's dangerously mellow on the palate. The aftertaste is faintly sweet and remarkably clean. This beer glows in the pit of my belly like a warm coal.
Marsh Island Brewing Company 12 gauge DIPA
Format Sampled: 22 oz capped bottle
Tasting Notes: Pours a light amber with an ample off-white head. Aroma is spicy and strongly alcoholic. There is a strong tequila component to the smell – hot, volatile and potent! Initial flavor is also hot, sweet and packed with alcoholic force. There are notes of white pepper, a slap of hop bitterness, and a long, grape-like sweetness. This is a forceful, almost pushy DIPA. It would serve as an amazing digestif after a heavy meal or a wonderful warmer on a cold night!
*The Greek deity of over-indulgence in drink.