Sunday, September 15, 2013

Long Trail Double IPA

I picked up a bomber of the DIPA along with Otter Creek's Russian Imperial Stout after pouring for them at a recent fundraiser. This American-style Imperial IPA is surprisingly simple in its grain bill and hop variety. The version I sampled listed it at an ABV of 8.2% while their website says otherwise. Its date of introduction was in 2009 and started out as a seasonal (typically found in the late spring to summer). Apparently it can now be found year-round.

Alcohol Content: 8.6%
IBU: 86
Malts: 2-Row Pale, Crystal, Wheat
Hops: Chinook, Cascade

Price: Gifted
Medium: 22oz bomber poured into a pint glass

Aroma: Floral with more of a delicate citrus and piney hop character. The hoppy aromas are still the showcase but with a more restrained profile than I would expect for an Imperial IPA. West coast versions will certainly be much stronger. Caramel malt aromas stay in the background and are only mildly sweet. With the first few whiffs I noted fruity esters reminiscent of strawberries, of which fade out later on. Alcohol sweetness is more present for the style, perhaps due to less hop influence to hide behind.
Appearance: Although an unfiltered version of IPA, I found its vibrant golden amber to have decent clarity. Poured for a billowing white head with great retention and a brilliant layer of foam caking to the sides of the glass. Steady bubbling representing moderate carbonation. Keeps a simple profile while maintaining a pleasant appearance.
Flavor: Clean malt sweetness with a hint of caramel in the front. The malt sweetness is whelmed by the higher alcohol flavors, which becomes most apparent about mid-taste and continues to move over the tongue as the hop bitterness takes the stage. Hop bitterness is clean with hints of citrus and pine. I don't sense a strong dry-hopping rate. the aftertaste finishes sweet from the alcohol and not from a residual malt character. Alcohol wins long into the aftertaste and affects my perception of a balanced beer.
Mouthfeel: Initially well carbonated, turning into a softer, creamier mouthfeel as the beer sits and warms (letting out some of the carbonation). This also makes its moderately full body turn into an easier-drinking, less viscous or smoother experience. Alcohol warmth in both the mouthfeel and nose.
Overall Impression: I'm not sure if there is enough of a hop character to math the strength of the beer nor style. That being said, the simplicity makes it a pleasant experience while packing in the alcohol. Good but not great for a big IPA fan looking for that hop-smacking beer. Overall clean with a light ale (fruity ester) character. I would be careful with the alcohol content in this beer - at 8.6% ABV and a 22oz bomber, be sure to have something in your stomach beforehand. Speaking of, great food pairings are beef brisket, grilled lamb and sharp, rich blue cheese. Okay, I stole that from Long Trail's website. Otherwise I love an aged sharp cheddar cheese to help cut through the alcohol and bitterness.

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