Beer of the Week: Midnight Sun Obliteration IX Double IPA

By Iron Chef Leftovers

Obliteration-IX_TTBDespite being spendy, I really do like to indulge in Midnight Sun beers when I can get them. They honestly make some of the more underrated beers out on the market and they aren’t always readily available. The chance to pick up a double IPA, Obliteration IX, was a nice treat, even if the 22 oz. bottle did set me back almost $13. It clocks in at 80IBU and 8% ABV. Was it worth it?

The beer pours golden orange in color with high amounts of citrus peel and tangerine on the nose combined with a slight backing floral note and hints of grain. The beer starts out strong with a huge amount of citrus peel and tangerine before morphing into a slight resin bitterness that pleasantly delivers a finish of building orange peel and orange blossom that linger nicely. The alcohol is virtually nonexistent in this beer and there is great balance between the bitter and floral, citrus and grain delivering a wonderfully hop-forward experience with this beer.

Midnight Sun Obliteration IX delivers on its promises leaving 4 paths of destruction out of 5 in its wake.

Beer of the Week: NW Peaks Luna dIPA

By Iron Chef Leftovers

For the first couple of years of their existence, NW Peaks resisted brewing IPA’s, becoming the sort of anti-Northwest Brewery. They really had no reason to – they brewed some great beers in styles that were not always common, using different ingredients. That has slowly changed and NW Peaks threw its hat into the IPA arena first with the Challenger IPA and now with the Luna dIPA – their first crack at a double IPA. In NW Peaks fashion, they couldn’t just brew any old double IPA, they went out and brewed one using all Southern Hemisphere hops.

From the NW Peaks Website:

The name. The mountain. Luna is the center mountain of the Northern Picket range, arguably the most remote and inaccessible are of the N Cascades (along with the S. Pickets). There really is no good approach; any choice involves a lengthy slog and bushwhack. For those that venture into the area, the rewards are worth it as you are surrounded by gorgeous environs with a feeling of isolation. Since Luna Peak is the center of the N. Pickets including Mt Challenger (the namesake of our IPA), it was a perfect name for the bold and big double version of the style.

The Beer. Luna IPA is a beast of an IPA coming in at 9.5% ABV with about 3 pounds of hops per barrel. Luna starts with melon and tropical notes dominating the hop aroma and flavor. This leads to a crisp, hoppy bite, but one that doesn’t overwhelm your senses. Luna fermented dry (for the style), but the malt backbone, sweetness of the fruity hops, and alcohol warming support the hops harmoniously. The resulting beer is a great interpretation of the style that features unique hops, a full flavor profile, and pleasant drinkability.

untitle8dThe beer pours deep orange in color with a nice white head. There are strong notes of grain and citrus on the nose with hints of mellon and notes of wood. The beer starts off on the palate with just a touch of grain before moving quickly int a significant profile of mellon and tropical fruit with a hint of sweetness, reminding me of eating a juicy cantaloupe. The finish brings additional flavors of pineapple and passion fruit with a tiny amount of bitterness that lingers for what seems like forever and brings just a touch of warming heat from the alcohol. The beer is incredibly well balanced and different, its complexity hides the fact that this beer is a monster and you can easily drink 2 or 3 in one sitting without feeling like you have killed you palate like with most double IPA’s.

NW Peaks Luna dIPA sends Alice to the moon with 5 Pows! Right in the kissers out of 5.

Beer of the Week: Midnight Sun XXX Black Double IPA

By Iron Chef Leftovers

If you want to consider Alaska as part of the Northwest, then Midnight Sun Brewing in Anchorage is definitely a brewery that should be considered one of the best in the Northwest. If you are like me and think that a brewery 1800 miles from Seattle is not really part of the Northwest, then you can call Midnight Sun possibly the best brewery in Alaska, a state that has a surprising amount of great breweries. My only knock on Midnight Sun is that their beer is spendy. Take the recently consumed XXX Black Double IPA, which ran about $12 for a 22 oz. bottle. Of course I had to try this beer since I don’t think I ever had a double black IPA, so price be damned, I bought it. The beer clocked in at 8.5% ABV and 87 IBU.

From the Midnight Sun website:

Originally brewed in 2009 to celebrate Specialty Imports’ 30th Anniversary, XXX Black Double IPA is now produced each winter as one of MSBC’s four “seasonal double IPAs”. XXX offers bold, American hop character — comfortably cloaked in dark, luxurious malt. This exciting “winter warmer” will take the chill right out of your bones. Curl up with this session-beer-meets-nightcap.

Although XXX pairs really well with roasted meats and vegetables, it also complements creamy desserts and cheeses, especially those that feature burnt sugar and nutty flavors.

Sometimes XXX just means 30.

XXX-art-only3The beer pours jet black with a creamy brown head. Significant roasted notes with hints of citrus and coffee in the background and a touch of boozy vanilla show on the nose. The beer starts out on the palate with a slight sweetness from the malt before quickly moving into a strong hop character with distinct notes of mango and passion fruit up front, then moving to dried citrus with just a hint of citrus peel. The finish is slightly boozy with strong notes of roasted coffee and hints of vanilla with touches of orange blossom and peel interspersed in a very long finish. Despite the boozy quality, the alcohol is balanced and there is no alcohol burn and the flavors are deep and layered, bringing this CDA to the next level. I would definitely drink this one again as a rare treat to be enjoyed in the fall and winter months in the Northwest.

Midnight Sun XXX Black Double IPA rolls down the lane with 4 turkeys out of 5.

Beer of the Week: Silver City Whoop Pass Double IPA

By Iron Chef Leftovers

It has been interesting to see what I have been drinking and it seems to come in runs. Lately it has been IPA’s. Silver City out on the Kitsap Peninsula has produced some great beers over the years and have really cemented themselves as one of the better breweries in Washington, including a strong reputation among IPA’s. Fortunately for us, they bottle and are pretty readily available so I can enjoy their beers almost any time. Whoop Pass, their Double IPA, is one of my favorites, available in 22 oz. bottles.

From the Silver City website:

Without a doubt, the boldest and hoppiest mother of a brew Silver City has ever created. More than 50lbs of Washington State Cascade and Columbus hops are infused, injected or otherwise inflicted upon a single 15 barrel batch. Welcome to hop country!


Food Pairings: Strong Cheeses, Smoked Meats and Seafoods,

Perfect with a Big Daddy Burger!

Alcohol By Volume: 8.5%

Hops: Columbus, Cascade

Malts: NW Pale, Caramel, British Pale, Munich

un1titledThe beer pours deep orange in color with a creamy white head. Strong notes of orange peel and citrus show on the nose with hints of grain and floral notes. The beer starts off on the palate slightly sweet before quickly building into a significant amount of citrus and citrus peel with a mild bitterness. Those notes continue to build and reach a pleasant plateau before fading and lingering for a significant amount of time with just a bit of warming alcohol. As he beer warms, the citrus is much more pronounced and it really enhances the beer. The balance between the hops and bitterness is pleasant and enjoyable and this is a surprisingly drinkable beer for its size.

Silver City Whoop Ass comes in and takes names with 4 Ass-Kickings out of 5.

Beer of the Week: Flying Fish Exit 16

By Iron Chef Leftovers

Another beer that I really was excited to find on my last NJ excursion was the Flying Fish Brewing Exit 16 Wild Rice Double IPA. I read a review of it a couple of years ago and had really wanted to try it since it was different – an IPA brewed by a craft brewery, with rice as one of the ingredients – not something that you see every day. The added plus is that the beer is actually named Exit 16 – playing off the joke that folks from NJ are familiar with – when you meet someone from NJ for the first time, you ask them what exit rather than what town. I had this beer in a 12 oz. bottle.

From the Flying Fish website:

Although usually identified with landfills and pipelines, the Hackensack Meadowlands is an amazingly diverse ecosystem providing vital animal and plant habitat. In a nod to a once common food plant here, we’ve brewed this beer with wild rice. We also added organic brown and white rice, as well as pils and pale malts.

Rice helps the beer ferment dry to better showcase the five different hops we added. Lots and lots of them. We then dry-hopped this Double IPA with even more–generous additions of Chinook and Citra hops to create a nose that hints at tangerine, mango, papaya and pine. This beer pairs extremely well with spicy foods and all kinds of seafood. And of course, it’s quite enjoyable all by itself.

Malt: MFB pilsner malt
Other: Wild Rice, Brown rice
Hops: Citra, Columbus, Centennial, Simcoe, and Chinook
Original Gravity: 6.6 Plato
Alcohol by volume: 8%
IBU’s: 62
Formats: 12 oz. bottles, 1/2 kegs, 1/6 kegs
Availability: Year round

exit_16-400The beer pours light golden in color with a creamy white head. There are moderate notes of citrus and hos with backing notes of grain, yeast and rice – it vaguely smelled like a domestic American lager. The beer starts out mild on the palate with a very light sweetness and a touch of grain and rice before slowly delving into a deeper IPA profile. First a mild bitterness appears, then it is coupled with a dry mouth feel before finishing with a pleasant medium citrus note with hints of floral orange blossom – I was expecting a slightly bigger hop profile from the beer considering it is a double IPA. There is a very mild touch of alcohol at the back end of the throat after a short finish; nothing terrible or off-putting, but definitely noticeable. The beer is layered and fun with some interesting characteristics that you don’t find usually in a craft beer, but I was expecting something with a bigger IPA profile, and got something that was approachable and restrained. It was enjoyable and worth seeking out just for the novelty of the ingredients.

Flying Fish Exit 16 turns on its blinker and heads to the ramp with 3 New Jersey Turnpikes out of 5.

Beer of the Week: River Horse Hop-A-Lot-Amus

By Iron Chef Leftovers

Despite being one of the most densely populated states in the country, New Jersey beer, is, and I am being nice here, not exactly some of the best in the country. Sure, there are a couple of beers that are worth while, but as a whole, they generally aren’t anything to write home about. One that did come recommended to me was Hop-A-Lot-Amus from River Horse Brewing. I am always skeptical about IPA’s that are not produced on the west coast, let alone double IPAs from a brewery in NJ. I have found them lacking in general compared to the ones you find out west. Given that this was accessible from my trip to NJ, I figured that I would give it a shot. I had this beer in a 12 oz. bottle.

From the River Horse Website:

Style – Double IPA

Malts – Pilsen, Munich, Melanoidin, Caramel 15, Caramel 60, and Carapilsen

Hops – Chinook, Simcoe, Cascade, and Cenntenial

ABV – 8.5%

Continual hopping during boil gives our Double IPA tons of hop flavor and aroma.  Pine and citrus notes are backed by rich malt base.

RH-Hop-A-LotThe beer poured deep orange in color with a creamy tan head. Strong notes of grain with surprisingly subtle citrus show on the nose. The beer starts off with a very mild sweetness on the palate before completely changing direction and quickly moving into a building bitterness with very light floral hints. The bitterness starts slowly and continues to build with great depth until finally fade in in a long finish. The sweetness becomes slightly more noticeable throughout as the beer warms and the beer has bester balance and structure as it warms – it felt out of balance and overly bitter with an alcohol harshness when first opened but it mellowed and smoothed out as the beer progressed. It lacked the deep citrus notes I have come to associate with a west coast IPA, but this beer was surprisingly easy to drink for its ABV and style. It is not going to make me give up west coast IPA’s but it was a nice beer in its own right.

River Horse Hop-A-Lot-Amus comes charging out of the river with a scary 3 Hippopotamus amphibius out of 5.

Beer of the Week: Stone Enjoy By 7-4-13

Stone Brewing has a great series of hoppy beers called “Enjoy By”. Basically, these beers are made to be consumed fresh and done so by the date on the bottle. These beers come out about once a month and are generally available in better bottle shops in a 22 oz. size with the price varying depending on the beer. This version of the beer was a double IPA and not exactly what you would call a small beer.

From the Stone website:

  •  Style: Double IPA

  • ABV:      9.4%

  • Bottled      On: 05.31.13

  • Enjoy      By Date: 07.04.13

You have in your hands a devastatingly fresh double IPA. While freshness is a key component of many beers – especially big, citrusy, floral IPAs – we’ve taken it further, a lot further, in this IPA. You see, we specifically brewed it NOT to last. We’ve not only gone to extensive lengths to ensure that you’re getting this beer in your hands within an extraordinarily short window, we made sure that the Enjoy By date isn’t randomly etched in tiny text somewhere on the label, to be overlooked by all but the most attentive of retailers and consumers. Instead, we’ve sent a clear message with the name of the beer itself that there is no better time than right now to enjoy this IPA.

130704_bottleThe beer pours golden orange in color with an off white head. Notes of lemon, orange and grapefruit dominate the nose with an ever so slight note of grain. The beer starts off surprisingly mild for a double IPA with a pleasantly light bitterness before reminding you that, yes, this is a double IPA and quickly moving into the intense citrus range with orange and grapefruit dominating with some citrus peel thrown in for good measure. Those flavors stick around for a long time before fading with a light resin on the back of the palate and a slight sweetness on the front mixed with the residual citrus notes still trying to fade. I wish the beer had slightly more balance as the intense citrus was nice but the bitterness came and went and there was some alcohol burn on the back of the throat which made the beer a little tougher to drink. Overall, it is still a fine double IPA and worth giving a shot.

Stone’s Enjoy By 7-4-13 was a blast triggering 3 fireworks out of 5.

Beer of the Week: Speakeasy Double Daddy IPA

By Iron Chef Leftovers

Living on the west coast means an abundance of double and imperial IPA’s tend to be available and it also means that I want to try any new ones that enter into the market. When Speakeasy became available in Seattle and one of the available beers was their Double Daddy IPA, a beer which I have tried and liked in previous trips to SF, I figured it was time for a review. The beer was from a 22oz. bottle.


From the Speakeasy website:

Doubling down on malt & hops, Double Daddy raises the stakes. With its good looks and no-limit style, DD takes the pot every time.

Style: Imperial India Pale Ale

Release Date: January, 2003

Alcohol Content: 8.5% by volume

Malts: Pale malted barley, English Munich Malts

Hops: 4 Varieties of Pacific Northwest Hops, 3 hop additions, including dry hopping

Yeast: Speakeasy Ale Yeast

Tasting Notes: Copper color. Huge hop aroma. Bitter, hoppy and warming alcohol on the palate. Finishes incredibly dry and clean for such a big beer.

DoubleDaddy-1-22-oz-372x1024The beer pours amber in color with a white head. Lots of citrus and grapefruit on the nose with grain and some floral notes hiding in the background. This beer is a major hop bomb – slightly bitter with juicy grapefruit and orange peel dominate with a long finish that contains hints of grain in addition to the hop character. Some green hops and resin become present in the middle of the finish as the beer warms, which was surprising but not unpleasant and an nice addition to balance out the citrus a bit more. The alcohol is well integrated and not noticeable, making this an easy drinking beer for any hop head.

Double Big Daddy is a find double IPA, and one that will hold up in the crowded NW beer market.

Speakeasy Double Daddy IPA slides into the party with a solid 4 zoot suits out of 5.

Beer of the Week: Populuxe Brewing Double IPA

By Iron Chef Leftovers

I am lucky to live in Ballard – we have so many breweries popping up, all within walking distance, that this is becoming a beer nirvana in a city that is pretty close to being beer nirvana. One of the “new kids on the block” is tiny Populuxe brewing, located in a renovated auto repair shop on NW 49th between 8th and 9th Avenues (and right across from the Iron Chef family favorite – Domanico Cellars; Ballard’s only winery tasting room). Saying Populuxe is small is an understatement – they have a 1.5 barrel brewing system so they don’t brew a huge selection of beers. What they lack in size, they make up for in quality. The Double IPA is one of the beers that they have been putting on tap along with their IPA, EuroBlonde, Saison, Bitter and Brown. Check out their FB page for their current tap list.

The DIPA pours hazy golden orange with a white head. Lots of citrus and grapefruit on the nose with notes of grain; you won’t mistake this beer for another style. The initial sip yields large quantities of grapefruit and citrus which linger for a long time coupled with a hint of bitterness that reminds you that this is a northwest Double IPA. It has plenty of hop character but is well balanced and does not feel like a hop bomb – you are not going to blow out your palate after drinking this beer. That balance between the alcohol and hops coupled with a long, smooth, refined finish makes me want to drink more than one and it is easy to forget that you are drinking a 7.2% ABV beer.

Perhaps the greatest compliment paid to this beer and its drinkability was by Mrs. Iron Chef who described the beer as “Not Terrible”. Mrs. Iron Chef does not like anything that is remotely hoppy, so for her to say that is the greatest compliment that can be paid to an IPA.

Populuxe Brewing’s Double IPA pours into the foundation with a spectacular 4 Googies out of 5.

I leave you with this:

Beer of the Week: Joseph James Hop Box Imperial IPA

By Iron Chef Leftovers

I was in The Dray recently enjoying a cold malt beverage and I noticed that a large number of people were ordering a beer they had on tap that I had never tried – Joseph James Hop Box Imperial IPA. In case you are not familiar with them, Joseph James is located in Henderson, Nevada and has been brewing beer since 2006. The Imperial IPA is described on their website as follows:

… has a large Hop Aroma and sweetness from dark caramel malts. This brew uses Simcoe and Cascade hops and is hopped at 5lbs per barrel. The brew is 9.3% ABV, 90 IBU’s, and best enjoyed at 55F. Serve in a 25cl goblet.

Hop Box pours amber, almost ruby in color with an off brown head. Malty with a slightly floral nose and I was picking up something that I could not quite place my finger on (rosemary?) Lots of grain on the initial taste, with hints of flowers and citrus. There is a slight bitterness that fades rapidly with tons of tannins. Lots of sugar coated my palate, which is very odd for an IPA. My opinion kept changing on this beer as it warmed – one sip I thought it was a fine version of an imperial IPA and the next, it tasted like a liquid sweet tart. I can best describe this beer as confusing and inconsistent and I really think I need to retry it.

Overall, Joseph James Hop Box scores a preliminary 3 six-shooters out of 5, with me reserving the right to change the score on a retaste.