Eastern Double IPA. Twice the Hops But Half As Bitter?

This month, we're bingeing on Double IPA, a style of beer that began as an intensified version of the brash, hoppy India Pale Ale.

Craft IPAs are often associated with the West Coast brewing scene. Western brewers' proximity to fresh fields of Cascade, Chinook and Willamette hops led them to use huge quantities of these bitter, piney flowers.

This challenging, bitter version of IPA dominated the American palate for years. Despite the "Double" in the name, most of the East Coast DIPA's aren't twice as bitter as a West Coast IPA. These East Coast DIPA's might use more hops than a Western IPA, but they add them earlier in the brewing process and pick varieties that pack a massive floral aroma, rather than a bitter punch. Confused? That's OK. Slug back a few of the East Coast DIPA's and meditate on the difference.

Sam Adams Rebel Raw Double IPA (Boston, Mass.)

Format sampled: 16-ounce can

ABV: 10%

Tasting notes: Pours a vivid, cloudy yellow with a huge head of whitish foam. Aroma is raucous with grapefruit, green apple and candied orange slices. The first sip is complex and searching — a battle between fruit, flower and grain. There's sour orange, and sweet orange blossom, all layered over a delicious burnt-sugar base. The body is thick and slightly syrupy. Tasting partner Julia isn't stoked on the can design, but I'm focused on the flavor. There is bitterness here, but it's mostly in the aftertaste. This is a festival of citrus and flowers — a lovely beer.

Moat Mountain Call It A Day Double IPA (North Conway, N.H.)

Format sampled: 16-ounce can

ABV: 8%

Tasting Notes: Pours a hazy, fuzzy amber with a thin head. Aroma is powerful and unusual — there's asphalt, pine, overheated electronics (hot Nintendo?) and mint. The first sip is packed with hop flavors. First, there's a candied citrus rind and a grassy, "green" flavor that totally overwhelms my palate. After these herbal flavors, a powerful, astringent bitterness emerges. It's sharp, forceful and enduring. The body isn't as thick as the Rebel Raw, and the flavors are more herbal than fruit-forward.

Lord Hobo Brewing Co. Consolation Prize Imperial-style DIPA (Cambridge, Mass.)

Format sampled: 16-ounce can

ABV: 9.5%

Tasting notes: Pours a cloudy yellow with no head at all. Aroma has lemon zest, taffy and resinous pine needles. Initial flavor has sour lemon, gummy candies, vanilla and pine. There's a serious bitterness hiding behind all these flavors, though, and it comes through as the fruity aromatics dissipate a bit. The body is moderate — somewhere between the Moat and the Sam Adams. For some reason, this beer is powerfully intoxicating. Several ounces is enough to render this beer writer quiet and contemplative. More like a first prize than a consolation prize, in my opinion.

Last modified onMonday, 05 December 2016 21:11