Imperial India Pale Ale is one of the most preferred beer styles these days. The Imperial India Pale Ale (IIPA), also called a double IPA, has deep golden to reddish-amber color and medium- to full-bodied mouthfeel. These big, bold IPAs are known for a strong hop profile with resiny, piney and/or citrus tones, depending upon the type of hops in the recipe. There should be some maltiness that lends balance and flavor complexity. Strength may range from 7.5 percent to 10 percent ABV. Many hop-centric brews seem to be in a race to out-bitter each other. Peaks and Pints is more reserved in what we like in a hoppy beer — we look for something solidly hopped with a bit of malt sweetness for balance, which we highlight today with our Craft Beer Crosscut 6.27.17: A Flight of Imperial IPAs.
8% ABV, 84 IBU
Ninkasi, the mythical god of beer, would be afraid of this double IPA. Hops explode in the nose, cascading pithy grapefruit, sticky pinesap and floral notes atop a caramel foundation. Ninkasi Brewing‘s Tricerahops hits the tongue hard with sweet caramel before a blend of Chinook, Cascade, Summit, Centennial and Palisade hops offer floral, fruity, and earthy notes, yet with a malt background. It’s hop-forward, full-bodied and strong. Yet the balance with the malt lends enough depth and a spicy complexity to make it very interesting. Resinous, citrusy, woody, and powerfully bitter, the hop flavors slowly unfold and last well into the aftertaste.
8.5% ABV, 90 IBU
Seeing a beer with “Lite” on the label and 8.5 percent ABV would seem to be a contradiction in terms. Evil Twin Molotov Lite is actually a scaled-down version of the brewery’s 13 percent ABV Molotov Cocktail. Originally brewed at Two Roads Brewing in Connecticut, this double IPA pours a dull yellow with a tight white collar. The smell of citrus assails the nose before rich malt rides the tongue from beginning to end, with a slight vanilla or birthday cake flavor on the back end. Pineapple, peach, pear and grapefruit are all prominent — akin more to hard candy rather than juice. There’s an intense sensation of bitterness as well; it’s slightly dry but nothing the average hophead can’t handle.
8.3% ABV, 100 IBU
Three Creeks Brewing‘s beefy Northwest-style IPA is built on a base of German Munich and British Maris Otter malt then heavily hopped with Columbus, Cascade and Cluster. Crystal, Special B and Carabohemian malts along with a three-hour boil contribute loads of plum-like, dark fruit flavor. It pours a golden color with very little head or lacing. Nose is earthy and taste a bit malt forward, which gives it some sweetness. The beer is well balanced and easy drinking.
Every year, Port Brewing crafts a special IPA to mark their anniversary. For their 11th, the San Marcos, California brewery created a complex Imperial IPA incorporating Columbus, Amarillo and Simcoe hops and dry-hopping with Columbus, Amarillo and Citra for an intensely hoppy body with fresh tones of pine and citrus. It sports a heavy body with lingering bitter hop and malt after taste but with enough toffee malts to keep the sweetness from becoming sticky.
9.2% ABV, 104 IBU
Would you trade an elementary school teaching gig for brewing? That’s exactly what Left Hand Brewing’s Matt Thrall did when his home brewing hobby became a career path that landed him at Avery Brewing in 2003 and currently director of brewing at Left Hand. We’re giving nod to Thrall’s Hog Heaven. This beer grabbed two silver medal wins at the Great American Beer Festival in 2004 and 2007, and subsequently set the stage for the bold beers that would follow such as The Maharaja in 2005, Rumpkin in 2011, Tweak in 2014. After all this time, it is still a beloved beer by Avery Brewing employees and is frequently consumed during celebratory times at the brewery. The intense dry-hop nose and the alcohol content are perfectly balanced with a caramel malt backbone. This is a serious beer for serious beer aficionados.