My Shameful Addiction: IPAs
Posted by Matt on August 2nd, 2012
I’m in love, but it’s complicated. Please don’t judge me.
It began many years ago when I discovered that paying a bit more for beer made it taste better (I had a poor grasp of cause and effect back then). I learned that going to the cooler that didn’t have 18-packs in it would result in greater drinking pleasure, and have never looked back. The first time I ended up with an IPA in my glass, I didn’t know what to think. Strong and aromatic nose, strong and herbaceous flavour, strong kick in the ass. I drank a few too many: strong hangover. But that flavour! So complex, so beautiful, such a dance on my palate! I was swept off my feet by this beautiful liquid and couldn’t drink anything else for some time. Still it haunts my dreams.
After meeting Degan, I realized that exploring and documenting the things we consume is an interesting and worthy exercise. Even after we married, she allowed me my dalliances with my other love (IPAs, that is), so long as I told her about them. This post, then, is both an admission of guilt and a song of love. A confession to my wife, who knew all along – and knows I won’t stop.
Without further innuendo or wordplay, I’d like to introduce you to 14 bottles I’ve loved (and some I haven’t) – from best to worst.
The Winners (stockpile these)
1. Central City Imperial IPA (9.5% abv; 4.75 / 5)
This. This is the most amazing IPA I’ve ever tasted. It has a light, floral and hoppy nose despite its dark orange colour; slightly honeyed. The body is pleasantly bitter with a dark tail. It is rounded and balanced with notes of butter, nuts, citrus, honey and green apple. This is my new favourite beer, by a nose.
2. Phillips Hoperation Tripel Cross Belgian IPA (7.3% abv; 4.5 / 5)
Maybe this is cheating, but I don’t care. A hearty, Belgian-style ale – heavily, but tastefully hopped. The hops are beautiful and delicate – forward, but quite floral with some delicate fruits in the mix. Yeasty from the Belgian-style brewing, a very well-balanced flavour. Delicious and drinkable. Also the best label ever.
Interestingly, the first time I made notes about this beer (over a year ago, heh) I noted its alcohol content at 8%. Either my notes were wrong, or it has changed a bit.
3. Alameda El Torero IPA (7.2% abv; 4.5 / 5)
A huge surprise out of left field – a beautiful, floral, herbaceous, slightly sour nose. Smooth and balanced with a bit of initial bite, some sweetness and dryness followed by nuts, hops and a long fade to a very pleasant dry, hoppy, bitter dance-on-the-tongue tail.
The Honourable Mentions (drink these)
9. Green Flash Imperial IPA (9.4%; 3 / 5)
Odd nose – sweet and sour, slight ammonia with wet grass. Flavour is very mild to begin with – a round, honey “bump” with the swallow – but sharpens, with increased bitterness and sourness on the tail.
10. Pyramid Outburst Imperial IPA (8.5% abv; 3 / 5)
Very vegetal hops on the nose (strong!) with some ammonia. A pleasant sour initial flavour rides the whole experience to the long, bitter, nutty tail. Hops come back to play after the initial flavour; bitter and sour notes dominate the body. Overall pleasant and drinkable.
The Losers (pour these out)
Sour nose (the nose made me recoil) / sour tongue. Bitter on the aftertaste with a nice ale bloom. Strong flavours across the palate, cringe.
14. Garrison Imperial IPA (7% abv; 0 / 5)
Barley and soap. It gets worse on the second sip. Avoid.