Doubling Down on Double IPA

Happy November, loyal reader! This week, we're going to continue our double IPA binge.

What is a double IPA? IPA stands for "India Pale Ale," a style of ale developed as a durable export to British colonies in India. Original IPAs featured larger quantities of hops and a higher alcohol content, primarily for their preservative effects during their long journeys. Double IPAs challenge the palate by intensifying the flavor characteristics and alcoholic strength of this already punchy style. Many of these beers have alcoholic strengths greater than 8 percent, and IBUs (a measure of how bitter a beer is) of 90 or greater. These are big, bold, challenging beers that reward sipping and swirling. Their strength and brashness make them a challenge to pair with food, and the bold hop flavors aren't crowd pleasers. For idiosyncratic hop-heads like me, they are the pinnacle of brewing achievement.

Last week, we tasted three double IPAs from Maine. This week, we're going to double down and taste three more! They're from Rising Tide Brewing Co. in Portland, Banded Horn Brewing Co. in Biddeford and Hidden Cove Brewing Co. in Wells.

Rising Tide Cutter Imperial IPA

Format Sampled: 16-ounce can
ABV: 8.7%

Tasting notes: Pours a hazy yellow with a thin layer of white head. Aroma has grapefruit, caramel and pine. Initial flavor is juicy with grapefruit and fresh citrus, piquant with conifers and black pepper, and completely mouthwatering. There's a brash, brassy sensation of bitterness after the initial sip. This bitterness dries down slowly, leading into a warm, glowing malt. The body is moderate, and it's not at all sweet. This is a lovely, well-balanced DIPA — more akin to an intensified IPA, rather than a beer where each aspect of the flavor is simply doubled.

Banded Horn Daikaiju

Format Sampled: 16-ounce can
ABV: 8.7%

Tasting notes: Pours a hazy, fuzzy orange-yellow, with a thin lace of pure white head. Initial aroma is vibrant with tangerine, fresh hay and pine sap. The initial flavor is fresh with green herbs, chlorophyll, clementine, dried orange peel and juicy citrus. There's a firm bitterness underlying the herbal, citrus qualities of the hops, which branches out like lightning over my palate. The body is quite light, and the malt character is crisp and only faintly sweet. This beer is like a finely wrought tool — simple, elegant and quite forceful. The belch is filled with sweet citrus, pine and mint.

Hidden Cove Thunderclap
Format Sampled: 16-ounce can
ABV: 8.8%

Tasting notes: Pours an opaque yellow with a thin layer of white head. Aroma has lemon chiffon, pine needle and mint. Initial flavor is dry and herbal — perfumed with a sachet of rosemary, citrus peel and hop blossom. The flavors build and coalesce, with lemon, honey and clove joining the experience, along with a sharp hop bitterness. The aftertaste is slightly sweet and lemony, with slight jabs of hop bitterness to keep things interesting. Following the trend of the other Maine DIPAs, this is highly drinkable!

Last modified onTuesday, 29 November 2016 15:57