Monday, June 24, 2013

Left Coast Hop Juice Double India Pale Ale review

Left Coast Brewing Hop Juice Double India Pale AleCalifornia is known for their big variety of craft beers, and here in Colorado we get a wide variety of California brews. I spotted a bottle of Left Coast Brewing Hop Juice Double India Pale Ale and wanted to try it. It's been a while since my last adventure with Left Coast and I wanted to see what they could do with a Double IPA (DIPA).

Here's the vital stats on this beer: It comes in a 22oz bomber and weighs in at 9.7% ABV and 82 IBUs. Left Coast used at least 5 different hops in this brew, both in the boil and a few during dry hopping. There's a mix of CTZ, Cascade, Mt. Hood from the boil and Centennial, CTZ and Simcoe for dry hopping. The malt base was comprised of premium American 2-row and a splash of light crystal malts.

It was interesting to note that this beer has won 2 medals in the last 10 years, including a Bronze in 2006 at the Great American Beer Festival. So how would this beer stack up to other Double IPA's? One thing to note was that I've had this beer in my fridge for about 2+ months since I bought it, so the hop experience may be somewhat affected by age. Let's find out.

Appearance: Left Coast's Hop Juice poured out a medium copper color with an off-white billowy head. The head had no trouble rizing in this glass and when it receded it left a wonderful sticky lacing along the sides. The bottle opened with a slight hiss. While I could not detect any sediment in the first pouring, I noticed that this beer wasn't very clear - just slightly hazy.

Aroma: Ba-zinga! The hop aroma hits you like the Flash - it's strong and powerful. There's a lot of pine, fruity, citrusy, dank, pepper and resin-like aromas here mixed in with a hint of sweet malts. There seems to be a bucket load of aromas here. One worry I had was that I left this big beer sitting in a bottle for a couple of months and hoped that time wouldn't change the hop aroma too quickly. With the 5 different hops put into this beer and 3 during dry hopping, the aroma mixture seemed a bit over crowded. A lot of hop in the mix for sure. One possible off-aroma here was that there was a slight hint of old musty grapefruit.

I did the "burp" test on this beer. I gulped a sip and burped with my mouth closed and exhaled through my nose. Wow - what a hop rush from that!

Left Coast Hop Juice up closeTaste: Left Coast stated on their bottle that the sweetness would hit up front followed by a crisp dry bitterness. In my experience, this beer hit me with bitterness right up front and kept on coming. There was a biting bitterness followed by a slight sweetness in the background.

The brew left my mouth very dry, as some IPAs tend to do. The taste didn't seem as fresh as other DIPA's I've had, and I fear I didn't get this beer at it's best due to age in the bottle. There wasn't a bottling date on the bottle so I don't know how long it had been since it was packaged. My guess is that this beer had been sitting around for a few months at least. On the back end of this beer, there was a slight caramel taste, not too noticeable, but the sweetness was there. I wish it had been a bit more prominent.

There was a big stickiness to this brew. It had a medium body and feel, very resiny and was medium on the carbonation scale. The brew left a lingering taste of bitterness in my mouth minutes after the sampling. It begged to be paired with some food, so I grabbed some non-sharp cheese to pair it with and yes, that made a big improvement in my overall enjoyment of this beer. Gotta pair this beer with food. Suggest don't go drink it without something either like cheese or spicy food to mix it with.

Overall: This beer is quite the contrast to other Double IPA's I've had recently. The bitterness here in this beer was definitely on the strong side, almost too bitter for a DIPA (if there is such a thing). The hops just didn't seem very fresh, or else the mix of hops just didn't seem to work as well with this beer as other DIPA's.

To be fair, I made sure I experienced this beer for the full bottle's worth. I sampled it both cold and as it warmed. Granted, most beers I continue to drink tend to get better as they go along. I think it may be that I haven't had Mt. Hood and CTZ hops in a beer recently and perhaps am a bit unfamiliar with how that changes a beer. I kick myself for waiting too long to try this. I've had it for a couple months. It wasn't until I ate something with this that I started enjoying this brew. I suggest drinking this beer soon after it hits the shelf.

Disclosure: I paid full retail price for this beer at my local liquor store about 2 months prior to this review.

Related articles:
- Left Coast Voo Doo American Stout review.
- Stone Enjoy By 04.20.13 IPA review.
- New Belgium Rampant Imperial India Pale Ale review.
- Upslope Imperial India Pale Ale review.

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