Seeing Double Three Times

A post dedicated to double IPAs and ending with a three way side by side of IIPAs from WA, SA and California.

Want to see a lot of beer geeks get ridiculously excited? Put out a limited release double IPA.

Feral Brewing‘s Tusk Day – the release day of their imperial IPA – sees one keg go to a handful of selected bars across the country who commit to tapping the keg immediately. Eager drinkers plan their day to ensure they can get to the selected venues before the keg runs dry and social media is flooded with #tuskday photos. The most recent release in WA at the end of April saw most kegs last a mere couple of hours.

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Feral Tusk Imperial IPA at Feral Fest 3 – a lack of tasting notes is explained by the many Feral beers that followed this one!

Recently Mash Brewing, also in the Swan Valley, released their Sarcasm Session IIPA (see what they did there?!) into a limited run of 330ml bottles and Tusk-like excitement once again dominated my social media feed.

With craft beer exploding the way it is and American style pale ales dominating people’s hearts and taste buds, it only makes sense that their bigger siblings – IPAs and IIPAs get people even more excited. After all, you’re taking a thing people love, the pale ale, and adding more of the things that they love – more hops, more booze, more fun.


What is a double IPA anyway?

Double IPA, IIPA, Imperial IPA, Extra IPA, it’s all the basically the same thing – an IPA but bigger, dominated by US and/or new world hops, it’s feisty, bitter, boozy but still balanced.

Double IPA
Information taken/edited from BJCP 2015 & The Oxford Companion to Beer

Of course, not all IIPAs are the same, what a boring beer world that would be. So, when you pour a double IPA into a suitably fancy glass, what’s the most important thing to look for?

Two words – “fresh” and “hops”. Fresh beer is the best beer when it comes to something like a double IPA which is critically defined by its hop aroma and character. Look for local and don’t be afraid to ask the bartender or take a look at the date on the bottle/can whilst you’re beer shopping at your favourite bottle shop. Anything past three months, whilst not off or undrinkable, isn’t in it’s peak condition, the way the brewer wants you to enjoy it and given the sheer number of IPAs and IIPAs available, something fresher is probably easily at hand.

On the release of Mash’s Sarcasm I decided to line up two other double IPAs, the first is a classic and the first very IIPA I ever had – Sierra Nevada Torpedo from California and the second is a modern instant hit – Pirate Life IIPA from Adelaide.

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L-R: Mash Sarcasm, Pirate Life IIPA & Sierra Nevada Torpedo Extra IPA

girl+beer’s tasting notes …

Mash Sarcasm Session IPA | Consumed within days of packaging

At 9.5% ABV it was the booziest one of the three and there was a big alcohol sweetness amongst the pineapple and tropical fruits. Pairing it with some Old Winchester cheese with its fruitiness and tangy flavours took the edge of the booze in the beer. If you like you’re double IIPAs thick and on the sweeter side this hit that spot.

Sierra Nevada Torpedo Extra IPA | BB 11.05.16

My first experience with a double IPA was many years ago and it was this one from Sierra Nevada. Amongst the pioneers of the craft beer revolution in the US, I looked to this beer to show me what a double IPA was all about. I remember being blown away by how hoppy it was.

This particular bottle wasn’t in the prime of it’s life so it was kinda disappointing to come back to it now and find it not as I remember. The tropical fruit aromas were there but sat alongside some candy, lolly and unwanted green apple character too.

With a best before date of 05.11.16, so 11 May 2016 when de-Americanised, it was a good example of why drinking fresh beer matters.

Pirate Life IIPA | BB 20.01.17

I was impressed when I first had this beer and subsequent tries haven’t changed my opinion. Slightly more subdued aromas but spice, stone fruit and lemon are all present and it follows through in flavour with a nice biscuity malt and dry finish. A balanced showcase of hops with real drinkability.

Three double IPAs, three different beers. This is why I love beer! It’s so diverse. Many times I’ve heard people say, “I don’t like wheat beers” or “I don’t like stouts” and I would urge these people to keep an open mind. One or even a couple of beers don’t represent everything that a single beer style can offer; be open to trying more, talk to more people, and I’ll bet you’ll find one you like and what a shame it would have been to miss out.

 

girl + tusk

Feral Tusk is big … you’re not surprised are you?!

I’d be lying if I said I didn’t miss living in the south west, being less than a five minute walk to the beach and driving through the Tuart Forest. Ah the serenity …

However there are plenty of good things about Perth, such as going to Five Bar and drinking Feral Tusk on tap!

Tasting Tusk at Five Bar on Friday Night
Tasting Tusk at Five Bar on Friday Night

On Friday afternoon Fremantle’s Sail & Anchor and Mt Lawley’s Five Bar each tapped a single keg of freshly brewed Tusk – Feral Brewing’s imperial india pale ale.

Tusk is BIG though this is not really surprising

Booze. It’s big in booze. Tusk clocks in at 9.8% abv and it’s the sort of boozy that creeps up on you, gives you a warm embrace but later you realise it’s cheekily stuck a “kick me” sign on your back.

Hops. This again is not a revelation for the IPAs from Feral brewers Brendan and Will. Huge tropical fruits both on the nose and palate carried by a viscous mouth feel that ensures you remember you are drinking Tusk. But really, how could you possibly forget?

I love the huge flavours that are strangely balanced yet abrasive, great for sipping on but very moreish at the same time. If you can find any of this on tap be sure to get acquainted!

One of the tasty boards at Five Bar - cheese, meat, bread, olives and other tasty items to keep this girl happy
One of the tasty boards at Five Bar – cheese, meat, bread, olives and other tasty items to keep this girl happy

 

Laksa + Hops

It’s always a great journey when you discover a new beer, regardless whether you enjoy it or you find it’s not quite your cup of tea. I recently went to visit the guys at Cellarbrations at Carlisle so our fridge currently has a full shelf of beers I have never tried before. During the always difficult selection process, hampered only by my credit card limit, I was asked “do you like hoppy beers?”, “hell yes” I replied, or at least something to that effect. That’s when a bottle of Heretic Evil Cousin landed in my shopping basket. The label had the words “A massively hoppy imperial IPA” on it … what’s a girl to do?!

It’s always a great journey when you discover a new beer, regardless whether you enjoy it or you find it’s not quite your cup of tea.

I recently went to visit the guys at Cellarbrations at Carlisle so our fridge currently has a full shelf of beers I have never tried before. During the always difficult selection process, hampered only by my credit card limit, I was asked “do you like hoppy beers?”, “hell yes” I replied, or at least something to that effect. That’s when a bottle of Heretic Evil Cousin landed in my shopping basket. The label had the words “A massively hoppy imperial IPA” on it … what’s a girl to do?!

The Heretic Brewery comes out of California in the United States from Jamil Zainasheff, a home brewer since 1999 when he first caught the beer-bug. Since then he has won a number of awards, co-authored a couple of books, contributed to many a beer publication, his own blog and podcast and, of course, the Heretic Brewery since early 2011. A quick read through his blog on the Heretic Brewery website and, like all brewers I have met, he comes across as an all round decent guy who just wants to brew great beer and share it with everyone.

“A heretic is a person who practices heresy, and heresy is when you hold an opinion at odds with what is generally accepted. Galileo was considered a heretic for supporting the theory that the earth revolves around the sun. In a world where over 90% of beer drinkers believe mass market light lagers constitute the universe of beer, craft beer lovers are all heretics”, December 2010

“You blithely assume that you can just buy some kegs, put beer in them, and you are good to go. Not so fast. It takes more thought than that. In fact, I can’t believe how much time we’ve put into thinking about packaging so far”, March 2011

“So, one year of blog entries down. Normally I need to think long and hard about committing to another year of writing anything, but these blog entries are different for me. I get to say just about anything I want. I get to ramble on about random thoughts, and as long as the topic somehow relates to beer, everyone seems to be OK with it. Cool gig, huh? But don’t take that as an indication that I don’t care”, February 2012

The Evil Cousin sits at 100 IBU and 8.0% ABV so my boyfriend and I decided it would be the perfect partner to a home made prawn laksa. We sat at the table and poured the ale into a couple of wine glasses, the colour alone put a nice big smile on our faces, bright copper and oh-so-lively. Floral and citrusy hops were basically fighting each other to escape from the bottle, delightful! The taste was chewy and rich, like lollies that are bad for your teeth, and stays true to the American Imperial IPA style with big notes of pine needles and citrus with a generous hop bitterness to finish plus there’s a sweet fruit like sweetness underlying it all.

Home made laksa often features on our rotating list of home dinners, especially during winter, and I decided prawn laksa was the way to go for this occasion. I slowly simmered the prawns in a mix of olive oil, finely diced garlic and fresh red chilli before throwing it into the laksa. It all came together beautifully, and in true laksa tradition, it was messy to eat and down right tasty.

The match of prawn laksa with such a beautifully hoppy Imperial IPA was harmony what with chilli and hops being such good bedfellows. Both dishes were equally rich, all the flavours demanding your attention and for once I hadn’t gone overboard with the chilli so it was nicely balanced and my mouth wasn’t on fire.

Heretic Evil Cousin + Home Made Prawn Laksa

Prawn Laksa

Prawns

Slowly simmered in a mixture of olive oil, finely diced fresh red chilli and garlic, throw into laksa moments before serving.

Laksa 

Button Mushrooms

Red Capsicum

Garlic

Coconut Milk

Spring Onions

Udon Noodles

Laksa Paste

Additional Links:

Beer and Whiskey Brothers

Interview with Brewer Jamil Zainasheff on MoreBeer!

Check out Heretic Evil Cousin Ale currently rating 96 on Rate Beer

Nøgne Ø + International Beer Shop

International Beer Shop + Kjetil Jikiun, Head Brewer of Nøgne Ø + 4 great Nøgne Ø beers = a happy beer girl

Kjetil Jikiun from Nøgne ø + Me
Nøgne ø … the brewery from Norway that refuses to compromise, committed to taste, committed to craft beer

This is the first sentence you see on the Nøgne Ø website. I like it’s simplicity and directness. There’s no messing around here – it’s not sunshine and lollipops it’s just damn fine beer. Their beers, from the ones I have experienced so far, certainly seem to reflect these elements too. If you have time, read through the story behind Nøgne Ø. It is an interesting read because it feels like a real story from a human being instead of a marketing spiel, edited and changed to a more romantic version of events. You could almost be sitting beside Kjetil Jikiun (Founder, Head Brewer, Owner and All Round Nice Guy) enjoying a beer and listening to the history of the brewery unfold on the bar table. As a side note, he is described in the website as “the bearded giant”. Since it was pretty close to the first thing I thought when I met him, I thought that was worth mentioning.

The International Beer Shop played hosted to Kjetil Jikiun on Monday night for a Nøgne Ø Tasting and Tap Takeover, an hour of beer talk and sampling of four of their beers. With almost 20 beers in year round production and countless other special, seasonal and collaboration brews it was a delight to taste a nice cross section of their different offerings.

  • India Saison
  • Brown Ale
  • Kollaborator
  • #500 Imperial IPA
I wanted to take photos but it proved rather tricky. I had tasting notes in one hand and beer in the other and I didn’t fancy drawing attention to myself as I tried juggling them. For those who know me, hand/eye coordination doesn’t spring to mind as one of my strong points. You’ll just have to head down to The International Beer Shop (or even shop online!) and grab them to see and try for yourselves. In the mean time, perhaps I can tempt you further with a brief run down on how beautiful these beers are.
India Saison – in collaboration with Victorian brewery Bridge Road Brewers
I first had this a few months ago and recycled the bottle for flowers I was given. Trying it the second time around I was struck by how spicy it was, I didn’t remember that from the first time! It is balanced out very nicely with tropical notes from fresh Australian hops and cheekily weighs in at 7.5% ABV.
Brown Ale – one of their regulars
The carbonation was bigger than I had expected and was a pleasant surprise, giving a delightfully light and playful mouth feel. Putting my nose in the glass reminded me of opening a fresh bag of coffee beans. Spicy and malty and delicious.
#500 Imperial IPA – another of their regulars
Imperial IPA. There’s something great about this style, taking a IPA – a bigger version of Pale Ales – and then just making it bigger again which is great for my already beaten up taste buds. As the name suggests, it’s a celebratory brew, made to signify the 500th batch of ale. It’s nothing short of slap-you-in-the-face big, heaving with hops and bitterness. With the recent explosion of New Zealand hops around, other hops heads might recognise the Nelson Sauvin hop notes in there with very unsubtle fruit thanks to the dry hopping.
Nogne O Kollaborator – in collaboration with Ægir, a fellow Norwegian craft brewer.
It’s a DoppelBock, doppel = strong and bock = lager so the style becomes simple math. Rich, boozy with lots of dark fruits. It’s got great thick texture and just begs to be sipped on whilst reading a good book in winter. Or, in the case of my boyfriend and I last night, devoured in gulps with rich blue cheese and exclaiming how great the two go together!
Kjetil Jikiun at International Beer Shop
This is what happens when I visit the International Beer Shop