Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Let There Be Rock (Art)

The Double India Pale Ale has come a long way lately and it is finally starting to catch the attention of my palate. While the style is fairly young in comparison to most others in the beer world (it has really only been brewed for the past 15 to 20 years or so, and only truly became uber-popular and trendy in the early to mid 2000's), it arguably contains some of the most sought after products in the market within it's family, at least here in the United States. My problem with Double IPA's has been that in the past they've largely been something that was brewed to out do the previous guy in trying to create the hoppiest beer possible. Thankfully, this has started to change in recent years, and we're getting Double IPA's that are more balanced than ever, yet can still provide a palate shredding hop burst that standard IPA's just can't touch, and nor should they. A great example of what I think is a newer wave of the Double IPA is the IPA (II) from Vermont's own Rock Art Brewery.

It pours out of the bottle a murky amber/copper color with minimal head retention, but the real story here is the flavor and aroma. As noted above, a much more balanced attack is the key: there's a bit of citrus and also a peppery, slightly spicy bite and all of this blends quite nicely with a hint of caramel sweetness but more so a nice bread-like quality throughout. The aroma takes on a bit more of a biscuit quality while the flavor sticks more toward the traditional baked bread characteristics. Similar yes, but quite different at the same time. To add just a bit more complexity to the mix, a slight hint of pine comes through at times as well.

Balance is again the key in the mouthfeel, where there's a good bit of chewiness and a tongue-tingling bite from the hops meshing with the carbonation, but it's not as heavy handed as a typical Double IPA where often one's mouth can feel like it's being slashed with each sip.

This is a very drinkable beer in general, and especially so for the style. Hops certainly still lead the way but never overshadow any of the other flavors. I'd call it a bit of a "tweener," straddling the line between a standard and Double IPA, but still leaning heavily toward the latter. It could be seen as a nice introductory beer into the world of Double IPA's, but by no means would I call it tame, and it's 8.0% ABV is actually hidden quite nicely. Nice stuff.

Hopback, beer, Rock Art, Vermont, Double India Pale Ale, IPA