I had the occasion to try three fine 2xIPAs tonight. The first, Haand Bryggeriet Dobbel Dram, Alchemist Heady Topper and Russian River Pliny the Elder. All of the beers I tried tonight were bottled/canned in December, based on labels or time of purchase.
The Dobbel Dram was given to me by my CBS cohort Derek after I mentioned I’d had a bottle that didn’t seem too fresh. Since he’s a big fan of this beer I owed it a second chance. The Heady Topper came to me by way of my sister, who lives just a couple miles from the Alchemist Cannery. She brought it down around the Christmas holiday. Finally, the Pliny came from my friend Bill, who lives in Sonoma and has become my most recent beer friend (fiend?).
I poured a sip of each to taste and then poured a larger quantity of each for the photos below. I wanted to try each before I’d too much of one to be able to taste the others (always a risk in this category).
I tried the Dobbel Dram first and it didn’t disappoint. It poured a light amber with very fine bubbles on the head. The smell was elusive, not giving too much away. The taste was heavy on dried fruit (apricot and mango come to mind), with very subdued hops. I liked this beer, but it wasn’t distinctive.
Next up was Pliny the Elder. The elder statesman of 2xIPA and arguably the creator of the style, this beer is solid. Crystal clear and nice hope aroma on the nose. The balance is great in this beer, but its age was starting to show. The hop bomb had begun to disappear and it had become just a great IPA.
Finally, I got to the Heady Topper. For those of you that know me, you know this is a favorite. Well, time may have caught up with this one. Gone was the stinky green bud aroma, and the taste was solid, but not mind blowing. It was a lot hazier than the others as well. Again, it was a solid IPA, but not what I’ve come to expect from the Alchemist. This may have more to do with handling than anything else, so heed their warning and keep it cold.
The lesson here is to:
1. Get your 2xIPAs as fresh as you can.
2. Keep them cold.
3. Drink them soon.