This month, we're slugging down epic quantities of an epic style of beer: Double IPA (DIPA). This style of beer intensifies the characteristics of IPA — an already profound style of beer.
This week, we're tasting DIPAs from Vermont. Why? Well, I recently found three excellent DIPAs from that state, and many successfully argue that the “East Coast” DIPA trend started in Vermont, with the introduction of The Alchemist's “Heady Topper.” This unfiltered, highly hopped DIPA introduced many East Coast beer enthusiasts to the pleasures of vibrant hop aromas and built demand for the style. Here's to the ancestral homeland of East Coast DIPA!
Otter Creek / Lawson's Finest Liquids Double Dose IPA
Format Sampled: 12 oz. capped bottle
Tasting Notes: Pours a transparent gold with a thick pillow of off-white head. Aroma has fresh, sticky pine sap, dried citrus, and nose-hair singeing alcohol. Initial flavor is tart and fruity. There's plenty of citrus here: grapefruit, orange peel, tangerine, and lemon. There are herbal, piney flavors and a delightful bitterness flitting around the edges. The body is surprisingly thin and drinkable for all the strength. The relative lack of malt flavor lends the beer a light, lilting quality. The overall impression is light, playful and fun.
14th Star Brewing Co. Tribute Double IPA
Format Sampled: 16 oz. can
Tasting Notes: Pours a pallid gold with a thin, pure-white head. Aroma is filled with permutations of pine, juniper, sage, and a faint undertone of dried orange peel. Initial flavor is sharp-elbowed, with massive resinous pine and cedar, a refined powerful bitterness and plenty of grapefruit. There are more gentle fruit aspects too, like hints of peach juice and ripe pear. The malt under all the hoppy wonder is toasted and biscuity, and there's a pleasant musty wood character lingering there, like the book section of an antique store. The overall impression of the Tribute is like walking through a bright, green pine forest the morning after a heavy rain. Damp, fragrant, and immersive.
Fiddlehead Brewing Second Fiddle Double IPA
Format Sampled: 16 oz. can
Tasting Notes: Pours a fizzy amber with a thin, off-white head. Aroma has delicate tangerine, pine needles, and fresh-baked bread. Initial flavor sparkles with lemon, citrus zest, and marzipan. There's a delicate flavor of burnt sugar and a firm mineral flavor — almost metallic. It's like sipping fresh lemonade from a cold pewter mug. This is one of the most refreshing, easily drinkable DIPAs I've ever had, bar none. The substantial alcohol content is completely obscured by the expertly crafted balance of malt, minerals, and hops.