Since I decided to post 3 beer reviews a week, I came up with a rotation: the Friday and Sunday posts rotate between NW Peaks, Reuben’s and Populuxe since I have a major backlog from those 3 and the Wednesday post is always some other brewery. I plan on keeping that rotation for the near future until I can get caught up or at least somewhat caught up. Today is an exception though and it is because I wanted to get this information out there to all of our readers in time for you to actually try a beer.
So why break from the plan now? Well, I sampled a beer that was so extraordinary that everyone should run out and try it.
Populuxe recently hosted a party for their Founders Club and were kind enough to put out 3 new beers for us to sample. One of those beers was their Founders Imperial IPA. As you can guess, this was a big beer, coming in at 9%. The beer is supposed to be on tap at the brewery starting this Thursday for anyone to enjoy.
The beer pours deep orange in color with a major amount of hops on the nose and copious amounts of citrus and citrus peel. An incredible hop bomb that is front loaded with juicy citrus and just a touch of barely noticeable bitterness. The beer then moves into the realm of citrus peel and hops where great balance keeps the beer from becoming overly sweet or bitter but with an abundant hop character (citra were used) that would please any hop head. The finish is long, with more citrus and decent amount of bitter peel but not so much to be unpleasant. The alcohol was very well integrated and not noticeable on the beer and the beer has enough bitterness to let you know what you are drinking but enough balance that you get to enjoy its many layers of complexity.
I haven’t been this enamored with a beer since the Imperial Rye IPA from Reuben’s and I will go as far to say that this may well be one the 20 best beers I have ever had. I would put the Populuxe Imperial IPA up against just about any other Imperial IPA and I think it would come out on top.
Check the Populuxe FB Page on Thursday and if it is on tap, get down to the brewery and drink it. Just save some for me.
The Populuxe Founder’s Imperial IPA builds its case with a perfect 5 monuments out of 5.
We now return you to our regularly scheduled programming already in progress.
A couple of times a year, the brewers from New Belgium and Elysian get together and brew a beer in a collaboration series called “Hop Trip”. These beers are generally unusual and pretty good. In honor of fresh hop season, they brewed an Imperial Fresh Hop, basically a fresh hop double IPA. I couldn’t find much info on the beer other than it was 8.6% ABV and ran $6.99 for a 22 oz. bottle.
The beer pours hazy orange in color. There is light grain on the nose, but it is dominated by citrus and green hops with hints of spice in the background. The initial taste is potent – burnt orange peel and citrus juice on the front end followed by green hops and resin with a long, slightly bitter, grapefruit finish that lingers with a slight sweetness. This beer is a great balance of sweet and bitter with huge citrus character. This is definitely one that you don’t want to drink if you don’t like a big hoppy beer, but it is complex and assertive and should please just about any hop head.
Elysian Trip XIV Imperial Fresh Hop meanders down the road with a smooth 4 Winnebagoes out of 5.
A while back, I wrote a post on food memories. Smells and tastes can invoke a powerful emotion and sometimes they can come from an unexpected place. A recent trip to visit my friends at Reuben’s Brews was such an experience. With their extensive and ever changing tap list and usually stellar beers, I am always torn between trying their new stuff and old favorites. A recent trip to the brewery saw the Imperial Rye IPA on their board; a rye based imperial IPA clocking in at 8.4% alcohol and 90+ IBU. This beer is not really for the faint of heart – it is a big, bold hop monster.
The beer pours amber, almost rosy in color. There is lots of citrus on the nose (predominately grapefruit) and rye – you take one whiff of this beer and you have no doubt that this is going to be a big IPA. The beer has a smooth, almost creamy feel on the palate with a slightly sweet hit giving way to a light bitterness with tons of grapefruit. For a beer with that high an IBU, the hops bitterness is incredibly well balanced with the rest of the beer. The Imperial Rye then gets really interesting – the grapefruit gives way to a dramatic rye finish with such a rye hit that it brought back memories of my grandmother making me fresh rye toast from the Jewish bakery in my home town. My only complaint, and this is because of the memories this beer invokes, is that the beer goes from sweet to bitter to citrus to rye too quickly – I really want that rye to linger on the palate for a long time. The reality is that this beer does have a fairly long finish and it is very pleasant and not overpowered with the high alcohol content it possesses. The bitterness does become more pronounced as it warms and I think this beer would be a good candidate for a cask treatment (Note to Adam: Big Hint!)
I did try this beer a second time without my notes from the first tasting handy and compared the two – they were both virtually identical with what I initially wrote. I loved this beer. As Rye IPA’s go, I probably rank this one as my 3rd favorite behind Anacortes and Laughing Dog, but this one has the childhood memory associated with it, so it really does make ranking it a lot harder.
I would have given this beer an easy 4 out of 5 if it weren’t for the memories, but since I do consider emotion as well as price when I come up with my ratings, Reuben’s Imperial Rye IPA invokes a perfect 5 Judicke’s Bakeries (that is where my grandmother usually got the rye bread from – it is still there and has been in operation since 1924) out of 5. Thanks for the trip down memory lane as well as the fantastic beer!
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.