Enjoyed on 2/7/2011
Brewery: Speakeasy Ales and Lagers
Location: San Francisco, CA
Beer: Double Daddy Imperial IPA
Presentation: 22 oz. – Brown Glass Bottle – Capped
Style: American Style Double India Pale Ale
Doubling down on malt & hops, DOUBLE DADDY raises the stakes. With it’s good looks & No-Limit style,DD takes the pot every time.
Beer Advocate: B (3.65)
Rate Beer: 96 (3.61)
This shit is contraband yo!
It’s rare that a brewery exits a market, but that’s just what Speakeasy did to Seattle about a year ago. Obviously it sucks to lose the distribution of a great brewery, but I think I took it extra hard. I have a lot of wonderful memories that revolve around this brewery. This very beer was a long-standing number 1 favorite IPA of mine. Speakeasy is one of the first breweries that I discovered in which I really liked every beer that they made. They are one of the first breweries outside of the North Atlantic that I visited and toured. Every time that I fantasize about my future brewery, I think of the aura, the people, the tunes, the beers, the setup of the Speakeasy brewery in San Fran. I want mine to be like theirs.
I stumbled across this bottle at John’s Marketplace in Portland and I had a mini freak-out. God, I really hope that they send their outstanding wares to Seattle again in the near future.
DD is much lighter in color than most IPAs. I’d call it gold or pale orange. Based solely on the color, if I didn’t know better, I’d think it was a lager. It’s maybe just one shade darker than most lagers. It’s also very clear and displays a fairly soft carbonation rising from the bottom of the glass. The head is full on white and is pretty subdued on the pour. It fades quickly down to a thin sheet on top of the liquid but manages to leave a fairly dense lacing on the inside of the glass. It is this lacing that is really the only impressive element to the appearance.
The odor kicks ass! It’s so perfectly balanced that I want to lift my glass high and toast the brewers of Speakeasy. It has become all too common lately for the hops to completely dominate imperial IPAs. Often, it seems the hops are used to cover up what would otherwise be a highly mediocre beer. Here, with DD, you know that you have a quality crafted beer before you, prior to even tasting it. That’s impressive.
I’d tend to concede that the grainy element of the scent is most prevalent here and that the hops are actually just slightly positioned in the background rather than the much more likely foreground. The malty element seems very natural and almost uncooked. It’s a bit confusing because I’d estimate that the boil would be, at least, in the 90 minute range to allow for various hop additions but there is little caramelization noted. Clearly the crystal used, if at all, is very low in intensity. It’s like sticking your head in a freshly opened sack of 2-row. Pure, unadulterated malted barley.
At first, the hops lend a sappy, pine like earthiness with a little bit of grapefruit tang. The malts are very round and soft within the nose, but the hops are sharp, as is the booze’s heat. It’s a contrasting experience that might just be a text-book worthy anecdote for “balance” in beer. As the beverage warms, the pine bite seems to fade a bit and bitter orange peel is all that I can think about.
This beer feels like 100% silk in my mouth. The low carbonation and heavy body cause the liquid to glide down my pipes with ease. Dare I say too much ease. There is nothing negative to speak of here. I’d say that this is well on the more viscous side of the scale, which can be read as a higher score for me, at least when it comes to impy IPAs.
The flavor of DD is all about balance. Do we sense a theme? Probably the best theme possible when reviewing an imperial IPA. The interesting thing about this one is that the “imperial” element is only really found in the abv. I can understand them not choosing to use the word “double” because that may be misconstrued as double the hops. Don’t get me wrong, I do not doubt that DD has more hops per barrel than Speakeasy’s standard IPA, Big Daddy (named after the owner of Toronado in San Fran), but hops really do not dominate this beer in any way.
The whole experience of this beer is soft, mellow and soothing. The bitterness is dampened by the hefty grain presence (there’s your imperial). The alcohol isn’t fucking around, but it’s not harsh, simply warming. The hops are all sorts of bitter orange and grapefruit, which kind of brings thoughts of a cool breeze on a hot summer day. With each sip, I wonder… if a thirsty bee may have fell into good graces, only to be awakened when slurped and bring a foul sting to my tongue, awakening me from this much-needed fantasy escape from the chilled clutches of winter.
The malts continue to exist in a very unencumbered fashion. This is beer in its purest sense, and that gives me goose bumps. How a brewer is able to encapsulate that within such an extreme style category is highly impressive. I feel like the recipe is probably built on a lager platform. The grains were magnified, the yeast was shifted to that of an ale, and it was all intensely hopped. Pretty simple and wildly successful. Why didn’t I think of that?
The aftertaste is most hot with booze and lingers for quite some time. Both graininess and bitterness can easily be perceived. It all blends itself so pristinely that details fail to manifest. It just exists as a brilliantly developed beer that had sadly departed from the pleasure sensors. Each and every sip tragically leads to a swallow and each passing swallow tragically leads to an empty glass.
Lately, few beers have transported me to far away places like DD has tonight. I feel stimulated, provoked, inspired. It’s amazing! If I could give extra credit I would. The oddest part about this review is that I have given very high scores to almost every area except for the area with the most weight, hop flavor. That’s pretty rare. Though I fucking love this beer, it probably deserves to be punished for that fact. This is The Hop Brief. Or, maybe my scoring system is flawed and an exemplary beer deserves an exemplary score. I’ll mull over this existential question and happily field your thoughts on the matter. Email me or comment below.
Thank you Speakeasy, and please, come back to WA. You are missed.
Color/Head/Retention [maximum of 1.00 point possible]: 0.80
Odor [maximum of 2.00 points possible]: 1.98
Carbonation/Mouthfeel [maximum of 1.00 point possible]: 1.00
Hop Flavor [maximum of 3.00 points possible]: 2.52
Malt Flavor/Balance [maximum of 2.00 points possible]: 1.98
Finish/Aftertaste [maximum of 1.00 point possible]: 0.98