A wise man (and by wise man I mean me) once asked, “Is it possible to sample too many double IPAs?” If you ever pondered this question, and you found yourself at Top’s Market in west Redding on Monday afternoon, you were in the right place!
Top’s Double IPA tasting almost doubled in front of my eyes as the generous folks from Top’s, and a local distributor, kindly decided to open not just the original 6 offerings, but to pop the top on 11 of these hop heroes for a measly $3 bucks! While I have consumed several in the line up before, a few were new footholds for the mouth as I climbed Hop Mountain. The line-up, while I was there, was as follows:
Mad River - Steelhead DIPA (Bitter, earthy, meh)
Bear Republic - Racer X (Fruity, sweet, earth, not much citrus)
Ninkasi – Tricerahops (Citrus, sweet, pine, well balanced)
Fall River – Widowmaker (Hometown hero, floral, citrus, sweet, big hop flavor)
Eel River - Earth Thirst (Citrus, honey, pleasant carbonation and mouth feel)
Sierra Nevada - Beer Camp West Coast DIPA (Citrus, smooth)
And it was here, with all the delicious hops, hops, and more hops, my palate was experiencing ruination (look it up) in the best way, but like any great champion, I pressed on!
Hop Valley - Alpha Centauri (Citrus, sweet, pine, floral nose)
Lassen Ale Works - Volcanic DIPA (Roasted caramel, sweet, bitter, earthy, pine)
Green Flash - Road Warrior Imperial Rye IPA (Toasty caramel, floral, dark fruit)
At this point, I felt like Jon Jones had my palate in a choke hold. I was worried that if I sampled one more DIPA, I might never taste anything ever again, so I tapped. I left the last two on the table: Drake’s - Denogginizer Imperial IPA and Hanger 24 - DIPA. Luckily, I’ve had the Hanger 24 DIPA before and can say it’s a solid citrus heavy brew with a great malt balance. The combination leaves it full of flavor, but still refreshing.
Now I can’t speak for what happened after I left, but it looked like the scene was only getting better as I forfeited my glass and exited the cool market for Redding’s furnace like heat.
For those of you thinking a DIPA must be twice as bitter as an IPA, and therefore twice as hard to drink, a quick lesson: Hops are added to beer to create flavor, aroma, and yes bitterness, now based on the amount, and type of hops, a formula is used to calculate the IBUs (International Bitterness Units). In a DIPA, yes, more hops are likely used, but most experts say you cannot taste past 110 IBUs anyway. At the same time, more malt is added to DIPAs, and your palate can definitely taste the smoothness the extra malt brings, often, but not always, leaving a DIPA with a smoother, less hoppy, palate wrecking character than his little brother, IPA. Now your liver and brain will feel the higher alcohol content in the DIPA, but your mouth might be pleasantly surprised.
So, back to the original question: Can you sample too many DIPAs? The answer is: Yes, and you’ll be glad you did.
Head on over to Top’s today to sample some rare local brews – if you’re lucky, you might even get more than you bargained for.