Welcome one and all, great and small, to the hyper-hopped beer battle to end them all! This month I take THREE Double IPAs and THREE Imperial IPAs and pit them against one another in a winner-take-all free for all! I know as well as you that there’s no official difference between the Imperial IPA and Double IPA styles, but the brewer named it that way for a reason, and I mean to find out why. I haven’t had any of these before, so a portion of this month’s post is also expanding my knowledge of the style and maybe even finding a new favorite. No matter what happens, it’ll surely be a good month.
Victory Dirtwolf Double IPA – bottle – 8.7% ABV
Pours reddish-gold with a off-white foamy head. You can really smell the whole-flower hops, it’s very fresh and citrusy with grapefruit and resin notes. I really like the flavor of this beer. Nice grapefruit peel flavors with hearty bitterness, but enough sweetness to balance it. It has medium body and the finish is sticky and piney. The alcohol is noticeable, but not overwhelming. There’s a touch of sediment at the bottom of the glass, but there’s nothing wrong with a few dregs in the name of an excellent DIPA. This beer is awesome, and might become my go-to double, but we’ll have to see what the rest of the month has to say about that.
Flying Dog Double Dog Double IPA – bottle – 11.5%
Crystal clear, dark red-gold in color, and the light-colored head is minimal but sticks around. The scent of this stiff beer is close to wine in some ways, with a green grape aroma supported by the citrus and pine notes of the hops. The booze is at the forefront all the way through, though it’s balanced well by high bitterness and that tip-of-the-tongue sweetness common to DIPAs. Lightly toasted malts come through at the end, as does grapefruit peel, and the finish is bitter and fairly dry. It’s good, but it’s a doozy. I’d probably pick this beer up again if I were in the mood to get tipsy real quick.
Terrapin Hopzilla Double IPA – bottle – 10.7%
Sorry about the picture on this one, I totally forgot to take one. Thankfully, it’s a common picture to take. I hope BeerChamber doesn’t mind me borrowing his image to complete my Double IPA triptych. Hopzilla is a fantastic beer, and while I know I said at the top of the post that I haven’t had any of these beers, I think I may have had this one before. I didn’t remember until I tasted it because last time it was on draft in Atlanta. I hope you can forgive me.
It has a nose full of citrus and spice, and the alcohol is there but not nearly as evident as in the Lake Erie Monster. The first taste is sweet citrus bitterness with a boozy aftermath, which gives way to caramel and pine and a sticky finish with lasting bitterness on the back of the tongue. Honestly, the sweetness is a little too heavy-handed for my taste.
Coronado Brewing Idiot Imperial IPA – bottle – 8.5%
Hazy and dark gold with a thin foamy head and vague citrus and pine aroma. The flavor is bitter orange peels followed by pine smoke and a vague fruitiness that I have a tough time pinning down to a single flavor. There’s a noticeable bite, though seemingly more from carbonation than from the alcohol, which is well-hidden. The finish is dry and only a little sticky. I like this one overall, but it’s most definitely a west-coast IPA, which tend not to be favorites. The bitterness (90 IBUs) is formidable and ever-present, and it almost feels muted after experiencing the whole-flower vibrance of Victory’s Dirtwolf.
Oskar Blues GUBNA Imperial IPA – can – 10%
Aroma of bitter orange and spices, with a bright flavor full of rye malt and a touch of oak. Piney hops dominate, and surprisingly, there’s very little alcohol burn. The finish is smooth and bitter. I love almost everything OB makes, and while this is no difference, it’s not my favorite IIPA. There’s a musty aftertaste I don’t love, and I’m a sucker for the sweeter Imperials, which this one is not.
Great Lakes Lake Erie Monster Imperial IPA – bottle – 9.1%
Alcohol aroma is intense, and supported by lots of citrus with a thick piney undercurrent. It also smells very sweet, like most double/imperial IPAs. The first taste is at the same time intensely bitter and cloyingly sweet. Pine and citrus flavors abound, but there’s also a touch of smoke. It has a thick mouthfeel and leaves a harsh, sticky, bitter aftertaste. It may get a 90 on BeerAdvocate, but it is not the beer for me.
And the winner is…
Victory’s Dirtwolf, hands down. I came into this month fully expecting to go for the sweetest of the six, and while I did shy away from the most harshly bitter brews, I was turned off by the intense sweetness of the Lake Erie Monster, and even a little bit by Hopzilla. They ended up being the only ones that I couldn’t entirely recommend. It also appears that I have an overall preference for the Doubles over the Imperials, though that could easily have been the luck of the draw. In the end, Dirtwolf has an excellent chance of being my top choice double IPA, though I may have to stage a run-off between it and Foothills Seeing Double before I make my final ruling. Won’t that be a chore… 🙂
Thanks for reading, and let me know in the comments if there are any phenomenal double or imperial IPAs that I missed out on!