The Hop Brief: Hale’s Ales Seattle Beer Week 2010 Double IPA
Enjoyed on 12/21/2010
Brewery: Hale’s Ales LTD.
Location: Seattle, WA
Beer: Seattle Beer Week 2010 Double India Pale Ale
Presentation: 22 oz. – Brown Glass Bottle – Capped
Style: American Style Double India Pale Ale
Hops: Columbus and Magnum in the bittering, Chinook, Cascade and Centennial in the late hop additions, and Centennial, Cascade, Amarillo, Chinook and Simcoe in the dry hop.
Malt: Belgian Aromatic and Munich, oats, likely NW pale or 2 row or Maris Otter…possibly others.
Seattle Beer Week II Double IPA We do a couple different IPA’s here at Hale’s Ales, Mongoose, Supergoose, Aftermath, and so we were aiming for an IPA that was outside of these flavors. The big feature of this beer is the hops, so naturally we argued first and last about the malt bill. Our target was a rich orange color based around a couple of light color malts, Belgian Aromatic and Munich. We also were looking for a strong malt backbone to support a pretty aggressive hop bill, so we incorporated oats to allow for a rich body and mouthfeel. On to hops. Our goal was a blend of Northwest Hops emphasizing floral, citrus and pine characteristics. We did a couple of trial batches attempting to dial in the right hop character. We went a little heavy on Columbus in the first batch and ended up with a weird pineapple character. The second batch was dynamite on the flavor, but didn’t quite hit the perfect aroma. Our final batch incorporated Columbus and Magnum in the bittering, Chinook, Cascade and Centennial in the late hop additions, and Centennial, Cascade, Amarillo, Chinook and Simcoe in the dry hop. Late hop additions were 1.6 lbs/bbl. Dry hops were at 1.0 lb/ bbl.
Beer Advocate: A- (4.1)
Rate Beer: 97 (3.68)
Remember Seattle Beer Week 2010? I do and I don’t, if you know what I mean. It’s nearly impossible to exercise moderation during said week, and I partied like a rock star. Err…a beer nerd. That notion, non-existent moderation that is, seems to hold true when creating the week’s beer as well. The inaugural brew in 2009 was crafted by Pike Brewing and was also a Double IPA. When the Seattle Beer Collective gets down, they get down. They destroy palettes with booze and IBUs. The dates have already been set for SBW 2011, May 19 – 28, but the official beer’s brewer has yet to be announced. Who will it be? I can’t wait to find out, but for now, lets just enjoy my last bottle of the 2010 before the massive hop character becomes…well, less massive.
I’d say, based on looks, that Hale’s was right on with what they were aiming for. This brew has a rich orange hue that is very inviting. When the light isn’t quite so direct, the fluid takes on a more amber color, but when held directly to the light, SBW2010DIPA glows a gold flaked orange. Though the beer is hazy from the dry-hopping, there is barely any sediment to speak of. The carbonation is visible, but not so strong as to build an out of control head on the pour. The lacing is worthy of a double thumbs up, and the head sticks around throughout. Very impressive.
There is little doubt that this beer has a solid malt backbone. It’s possibly odd that I started this section with that statement. Yes, hops dominate. Was I supposed to mention that? I thought it goes without saying. I’ll get to the lupulin in a moment.
The first thought I had when evaluating the malt essence was Victory malt. There may or may not be Victory in the grain bill, possibly it’s the Munich, but I got a whiff of peanuts and a dash of popcorn. Those notes came right after the pour when the effervescence was at its peak. Now that the beer has calmed a bit, I can’t seem to discern anything other than a faint caramel stickiness draped upon the overpowering hoppy fruitiness.
I smell and smell again, and each time I seem to get a slight nuance from the hops. At times, it’s all fruit, mostly passion fruit or some soft tropical pleasure. Other times, it’s completely floral. Unfortunately, I’m no botanist, and therefore am unable to provide genus, but I can tell you that the potency is immense. I think of Elysian Jasmine IPA and its overwhelming ability to transport me to a Japanese tea garden. A garden, we surely are in.
As the beer warms, some more of the malt is uncovered, and it easily coalesces with the flora to place me directly within the leavened pores of a fruit cake. If you could take that scene in Honey, I Shrunk the Kids where they stumble upon the Oreo in the front yard and snack time ensues and replace the cookie with a fruit cake…yeah I’m doing a swan dive right into the fluffy cakey goodness right now.
As it warms even more, the booze enters the jaunt, and some slight uninvited vegetal scents pop in. Try to drink this one cold(er).
The body of this guy is truly lovely. I can’t say that I would have guessed there were oats in this, but since I do know, I’ll strap on my monocle, clutch my jolly old belly (lavishly draped in a vest of the Queen’s finest textiles) and bellow deeply in an English accent that this beer’s “silky smooth mouthfeel is made possible by the almighty oat”. The oats effect may also be responsible for the killer head retention, or maybe Cara-Pils could hold a minor percentage in the bill.
The carbonation is rocking well after the pour but never overbearing. All in all, a great success.
Much like the nose, this element seems to fluctuate, oscillate, ebb and flow. When the experience is averaged, balance is reached so astutely. Doubtless, the malts are mighty strong here, standing tall amidst the triple digit bitterness units. Bitterness… what a challenging topic right now. With the fear of skipping ahead and spoiling the aftertaste section below, I must reference the moments after the swallow to make any attempt to wrap my mind around the role of bitterness here.
If you’ve read my Hop Briefs in the past, you know that, ultimately, my enjoyment of IPAs rest in the bitter vs. sweet, hop candy battle. When this beer hits the tongue, the tongue recoils in fear. On a sensory level, one must then pay close attention to the aftershocks, not the heavy hitting initial blow, to fully appreciate this beer’s nuance and complexity. The aftershocks, or the aftertaste in this case, is so, so pleasurable. It’s sweet and hoppy and not at all dry. The malts are twinkling in the background and everything is right in the world. How this contradiction holds together in the rolling centrifuge across my tongue, I can’t explain, but allow me to again bellow, “Roll on my intrepid friend, be free!”
When it comes to the actual hop flavor, it still holds a lot of fruitiness, but not so much floraliness (new word discovery, chalk it up!). I’m actually getting a large dose of spice just at the moment that I swallow. If beer is liquid bread, this beer is a culinary joy ride. I’d feed on this one for days and days. It’s all too hop-laden to realize any specific, legitimate malt characteristic, but the balance is undeniable.
It’s glorious. See above.
The absolute best part about this beer is the fact that it seems to be a living organism. It’s like the sea breaching the shore – it attacks over and over again, but never twice in the same manner. By this right, this is the most complex IPA I’ve had in recent memory. Oddly enough though, complexity only goes so far with IPAs as far as I’m concerned. This one beer may have the aspects of 4 different IPAs, possibly more, but maybe only one of those would be a perfect 10 in my book. Though I deeply enjoyed the ride, the moments where SBW2010DIPA tasted like something slightly less desirable left a blemish with enough weight to set in scar. If for nothing other than to deepen my confliction, may it be that this scar lends an endearing quality and in time I regret not distributing the highest of marks. May time tell the tale.
Color/Head/Retention [maximum of 1.00 point possible]: 0.99
Odor [maximum of 2.00 points possible]: 1.94
Carbonation/Mouthfeel [maximum of 1.00 point possible]: 0.98
Hop Flavor [maximum of 3.00 points possible]: 2.70
Malt Flavor/Balance [maximum of 2.00 points possible]: 1.88
Finish/Aftertaste [maximum of 1.00 point possible]: 0.99