The Hop Brief: Hopworks Urban Brewery Ace of Spades Imperial IPA
Enjoyed on 12/09/2010
Brewery: Hopworks Urban Brewery aka HUB
Location: Portland, OR
Beer: Ace of Spades Imperial IPA
Presentation: 22 oz. – Brown Glass Bottle – Capped
Style: American Style Imperial India Pale Ale
Hops: Amarillo, Cascade, Centennial
This hopped out beast had Amarillo, Cascade and Centennial hops, added at every point; mash tun, first wort, kettle, and dry hop. All the green goodness results in a beer with a huge citrus hop aroma, flavor and deep clean bitterness.
Beer Advocate: A- (4.06)
Rate Beer: 98 (3.94)
For me, HUB Ace of Spades was first experienced on tap at Brouwer’s. It blew my mind. When I heard that it would be available in a limited runn bottling, I had to get on board. I found one, and the cellar dweller in me begged it to be layed away, but my better judgment spoke forth, and may the hops still dominate…
Fresh out the box, or bottle, this gem pours a very cloudy yellowish-orange tinted amber. It’s not only a thick translucent syrupy joy in the glass, but it harbors many suspended bits of hop injection. The head rose just as it should on a medium pour, and it displayed a very voluptuous crown of varying sized bubbles. That head diminished at the center and outer reaches first, leaving a rocky lather that begged to be scooped and smeared on Chris Ellis’ (my roommate, closest human to me currently, recent author of a marvelous 52 Weeks article) face, in a gesture of prank, humor, and mostly love. But I can already tell that this will be too darn tasty to violate with these unholy digits. I display self control…for once.
The head is just off white and built with (clearly visible amidst the mirk) quickly rising bubbles. Every so often they strike a bit of dry-hopped excrement and change coarse. I feel like I’m gazing into an aquarium or something. Far too entertaining to just look at. I need to snap out of it and move on, there’s drinking to do!
A deep inhale of this one tells a lengthy tale. The malts come through with grace, and for that, you know, I’m very thankful. There is a sweet, caramel coated, deserty goodness in there. Based on color and depth of flavor, I’m thinking crystal 120 may play a role. Maybe 90. There is also a biscuit flavor that I adore. I’m thinking flat out biscuit malt or victory, maybe a sprinkle of cara-pils. I’m trying to reverse engineer beers, tune my palate…hey HUB, what grains do you use?
The first adjective that I think of when assessing the hop profile is spicy, but it’s full of pine and citrus as well. The combination that they used is well rounded. It’s very northwest of them. Allow me to tip my proverbial cap.
The MF is perfectly pleasant. Possibly just a hair thin for an imperial, but by no means under-viscous. The carbonation is most receptive with a swishing in the mouth, but on a simple suckle, it’s deathly accurate. In my experience carbonating beers at Lazy Boy, I found it to be a bit persnickety. There would always be a moment where I thought, “just a few more minutes with the carb stone and it will be perfect”, and then it was too much. It’s surely an art, and HUB got it right with this batch.
The colder the beer, the less attractive I found the flavor. There may or may not be a similar progression in my intoxication levels, but shut up right now! Actually, I’ll say that the flavor of this beer, when it’s cooler, is probably 100% perfect to the tastes of a vast majority of IIPA drinkers. It’s mostly balanced, but it’s bitterness stands tall and proud. Mash and first wort hop addition, as noted on the bottle, will absolutely bring respect and profundity to this attribute. I can’t help but offer props.
As it warms, the malts play more of a role. Piping-hot-out-of-the-oven, hop spiced rolls have been served tonight, and I feel they may sustain me for life. The ethanol is finally distinguishable, and I’ll tell you, it’s more than welcome in my home right now. The entire experience of this beer has vastly improved in the last 15 minutes.
At the moment, I can’t think of a better example of a perfect finish in an IPA. I seriously don’t think I’ve used the word balanced as a descriptor of an aftertaste before. It’s 50% bittering dry and 50% sweet, mouthwatering candy. The interplay is a joy to perceive.
I probably should have ate dinner tonight, but sometimes the starving artist picks alcohol over food. You know…liquid sustenance. Be like monk, tilt glass, be nourished…repeat. This beer tastes fucking awesome right now. The balance is notable. The blend of hops was mighty successful, enough so that I’ll utilize this knowledge in future homebrews. Yet another note to self, biscuit and dark crystal live in syncopation. Clone brew to follow.
Color/Head/Retention [maximum of 1.00 point possible]: 0.87
Odor [maximum of 2.00 points possible]: 1.9
Carbonation/Mouthfeel [maximum of 1.00 point possible]: 0.97
Hop Flavor [maximum of 3.00 points possible]: 2.79
Malt Flavor/Balance [maximum of 2.00 points possible]: 1.88
Finish/Aftertaste [maximum of 1.00 point possible]: 1.00
Total [maximum of 10.00 points possible]: 9.41