My beer connoisseur-ness is a work-in-progress. Learn with me!
What: American Double/Imperial IPA | 8.7% ABV
How: American shaker pint glass or snifter
Where: Poured from a can at the Handlebar & Grill in the Sheboygan, WI
While visiting Sheboygan for a birthday party, I had to try and fit in a new beer for all you readers. I’ve been swamped with a new job and a big move, but I can assure you I’m back on track.
THE LAYMAN’S TAKE: The Indian Pale Ale has a rich history that dates back to the early 1700s when the aforementioned country’s British citizens and troops missed their hometown pub’s malty ale. The beer would spoil before being shipped to India. Alas, the IPA was brewed for the first time, as the extra hops would preserve the beer’s freshness for long and arduous British voyages. The specific origins of Double IPAs come from the late 1700s, as the British would brew what became known as Russian Imperial stout for the Russian Imperial Court.
The popular IPA of today is brewed by most American craft breweries. Milwaukee Brewing Company’s Hop Freak has double the hops and double the bitterness. At the same time, Milwaukee’s own Rishi Tea’s jasmine blend is mixed in to add a particularly fresh and pleasant aroma to the typical pine and citrus you find in IPAs. There is currently a fad for IPAs to be brewed with as many hops as possible, disregarding balance and respect for the “craft” part of craft beer. This balanced brew should not be listed as one of them. The generous bitter hoppiness of Hop Freak is well balanced with malts and it’s infused jasmine tea. The mouthfeel, or aftertaste, is more pleasant than any other double IPA I have had, with clear complexity and a lip-smacking satisfaction with every sip. Simply put, it is very refreshing and doesn’t overstay its welcome. Like most hoppy IPAs, Hop Freak is not easily paired with food because of it’s boozy full-bodied strong flavor.
SCROLL-TO-THE-BOTTOM VERDICT: I usually gloss over hoppy beers because of the generous bitterness, but Hop Freak is a rare beast of bold complexity. The infusion of Rishi’s jasmine tea sets this brew apart from the marketing stunt of many as-many-hops-as-possible IPAs.
BEER-DRINKERS TIP OF THE WEEK: Think you should pour your beer on an angle? With most craft beers in mind, that is a common misconception. The head, or foamy top of the beer is of the upmost importance to the entire experience of any good brew worth its malt.
Are you looking to dive into the magical world of microbrews but need a place to start? Want to talk beer? Want to tell me I have terrible taste in beer? Follow me @billcanzoneri and let’s beer-nerd it up.