Imagine my surprise this evening as I walked into a local liquor store, one that I frequent relatively often, and found Southern Tier hanging out in the back coolers. Never seen it here before. All they had available was their Unearthly Imperial IPA, and two left. So of course I grabbed them. Hehe. Nice to know the good stuff is making its way to the Twin Cities.

With this Imperial IPA, I think I’ve had an epiphany about my beer preferences. I’d much rather do with lots of hops, than lots of sweet, sticky malt. Don’t get me wrong, I love most Imperial Stouts and Quads. But hops just do something special that I can’t describe. They’re the spice of beer, next to yeast the second most important ingredient in a beer, in my opinion. Without hops, you have nothing.  

This is a really good beer. What you might call “drinkable”. Poured with a thin head from a 650 ml bottle, likely thanks to the hop oils and 11% ABV penetrating the carbonation. Awesome aroma. They brew with Chinook, Cascade and Styrian Golding in the boil, and dry hop with Cascade, Centennial and Chinook. Lots of hops. And I think Cascade is what makes this beer. As I drink a variety of different beers, trying to discern how the different ingredients impart flavors, I’m coming to realize that Cascade is a very versatile hop. In small doses, it comes off very aromatic and floral. Used more prolifically, it conjures a fantastic woody vibe, reminiscent of Dogfish Head 60 or 90 Minute IPA.

The high alcohol content is barely masked by the hop bitterness. Yet, while it’s certainly bitter (it’s a DIPA, after all), it is remarkably smooth. I think because it doesn’t lend too much of that citrusy quality that tends to be the hallmark of many Imperial IPAs. It’s strong, but a little more subdued.

So what about the rest of it…lacing, mouthfeel. Yeah, it’s all there. But the main reason for enjoying this beer is in the nose and velvety hoppiness. A nice beer to enjoy to take my mind off my Twins ending their season poorly in Chicago. Can’t wait for the new stadium.

Rating: A-