Keep this to yourselves, but I’ve never been one for massive beers. Maybe it’s my English roots in Real Ale and a misspent youth drinking warm, flat beers in the pubs of London, but my palate likes it light and flowery with delicate hops over a gentle base of malt.
So, as soon as I nosed this beer, I thought I had it sussed. You can’t really smell alcohol - but there’s something about ABVs over 7% which seems to stand out on the nose and which is often the precursor to a heavy-handed brew in my opinion. But diving back in, there was certainly "stuff" going on and, the more I investigated it, the more it had me intrigued. There was the ripe tang of tropical fruits - mango and guava - but also the lift of citrus that seemed to combine with the malt in a fashion reminiscent of a recently flambéed crepe suzette.
Surely the palate would give away the beer’s true identity as the double-the-trouble Double IPA I had feared it might be but, even here, I was pleasantly surprised. Once again the ripe tropical fruits were balanced nicely by a citrus zing and some refreshing bitterness from the hops, and the results were surprisingly light for a beer over 8% and with a whopping 84 IBUS.
No doubt, this is a bold beer, which is what you would expect from Alesmith and Stone, the San Diego collaborators behind its creation, and what you would hope for if you purchased a beer looking for a decent double IPA. But, in my opinion, together they have pulled off something better than just another big beer with some clever adjuncts... and, in this case, the sum of the whole is certainly greater than the sum of its parts. There’s some brewing sleight of hand going on here and when you try it, you might just find yourself asking... “how did they do that?”.