By Julia Burke, Beer Editor
When hopheads rate a beer, they want one thing. Dank, sticky, resiny, more-bitter-than-a-tongue-scraper hops. Lupulin junkies don't necessarily want a "balanced" or "sessionable" brew. When the Brits learned that they could use hops as a preservative when shipping beer to the troops in India, the India Pale Ale was born. When the San Diegoans learned that they could take that idea and crank up the hop bill and alcohol past any semblance of politeness, the modern West Coast IPA gave birth to an entire beer subculture of drinkers focused on one thing.
For all my appreciation of the many wonderful beer styles out there, I'm one of these freaks -- and when I reach for an IPA, I want the hops to sing to me. When I reach for a double IPA, I want them to wack me over the head with a club and drag me back to their cave. Southern Tier Double IPA is just such a beer.
This hophead's dream, made by the masters of the hoppy and high-gravity at Southern Tier Brewing Company, is gold and glowing with lovely lacing and beautiful stratification. There's a tidal wave of floral, grapefruity, piney hops on the nose and a note of sweetness that hints at its 8.2% ABV but complements rather than overwhelms the citrusy acidity.
The mouthfeel packs a wallop: enormous hop character, big, robust malts to put some muscle behind the spikes, and a crazy-good finish that makes me wonder what a hop resin bubble bath might feel like. (For the curious: they do make shampoo with hop resin. It's lovely.)
This was a Beer of the Year last year, and when I saw the faces of a few of my fellow NYCR writers as they sipped this hop bomb, I could tell I wasn't alone in my appreciation of a downright lusty hop experience. Will a few of these knock you off your feet like a wrecking ball? Yes. Will you love it? That depends on you. But the hopheads out there know exactly what I'm talking about, and friends, this beer was made for us.
Producer: Southern Tier Brewing Company
Sample Size: 12 oz. bottle
Stemware: Pint glass
(4 out of 5 | Outstanding and Delicious, Highly Recommended)