We're not done with Maine Double IPAs

 

After a long excursion into unusual beers, we've returned to sampling more conventional styles, starting with Double IPAs. This style features a heavy wack of hops, and higher alcohol content than an “ordinary” IPA. A subset of the style, New England Double IPA, is typically less sweet, and emphasizes the floral flavors and aromas of the hops rather than their brash bitterness. The past several years have seen an explosion of double IPAs brewed in Maine, so I'm revisiting the topic this week, and sipping three other examples of the style. Happy Thanksgiving, and cheers!

 

Lone Pine Tessellation

ABV: 8.1%

Format Sampled: 16 oz. can

Available: Purchased at Whole Foods

Tasting Notes: Pours a crisp, clear gold with a thin layer of white head. Aroma has skunky pineapple, sage, and citrus. The initial flavor is bright, with resinous pine, orange blossom, and a basement layer of dark, funky herbs. The initial flavor blossoms with more fruit, adding apple, grapefruit and hints of tangerine. Underlying the fruit, a suave, mild sweetness holds up the center well, and drifts off into a mildly sweet aftertaste. Though it's on the sweeter side, this beer is dangerously chuggable, and the hop-profile is so mild and floral that I'm sure it would be comparable with a number of different meals.

 

Foundation Epiphany

ABV: 8.0%

Format Sampled: 16 oz. can

Available: Purchased at Whole Foods

Tasting Notes: Pours a rich, vivid yellow with a thin, fine head. Aroma is raucous with lemon peel, wet herbs, fresh pine needles. The initial flavor is a clean, pure wash of citrus and herbs — redolent of lemon, tangerine, tarragon and pitch. Yowza! It's simultaneously profound, and delightfully playful. The pith and peel of the citrus make me stop and think, but the juicy sweetness make me giggle and open my gullet for another draft. The body is so light, and the hop aromas so plush and juicy, that this could easily be a 5 percent. At 8 percent, Epiphany should have a warning label that reads: “Caution, Extremely Drinkable.”  

 

Sunday River Brewing Viper New England IPA

ABV: 8.0%

Format Sampled: 32 oz. can

Available: Purchased at Whole Foods

Tasting Notes: Pours a transparent shiny gold with a thin white head. Aroma has tangerine, sweet pine pollen and honey. Initial flavor is powerfully citric, with brash, bitter herbal undertones. The bitter quality hits the back of my tongue sharply, and lingers there, tingling for some time. The citrus qualities linger toward the front of my mouth, becoming drier and more complex as the flavor develops. The malt base is lightly sweet, but still retains some honest grainy flavor. Overall, the body is moderate. Combined with the brash, bitter character, this isn't quite as slam-able as some other examples, but its assertiveness is a lovely exception to the rule!

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