Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Upslope Imperial India Pale Ale review

Upslope Brewing Imperial India Pale AleMost breweries can put out a 12oz can of beer. Fewer breweries release a 16oz can, but a select few craft brewers go beyond that. Upslope Brewing Company of Boulder, Colorado recently released their Upslope Imperial India Pale Ale in a royal pint can (19.2oz).

Normally, you'd think for such a big can a brewery would put an average strength beer in it, not so here. Upslope Brewing put in one of their biggest beers weighing in at 10% ABV and a hefty 90 IBU. Not only that, they went a different direction with the hops as well. Instead of using primarily U.S. hops, they added hops from New Zealand to give it some unique aromas and flavors.

I've had some other beers that used New Zealand hops and was intrigued with them, so when Upslope released their Imperial IPA I knew it would be special. Here's my review of this big bold beer in a royal pint can.

Appearance: Upslope Imperial IPA poured out a bright golden orange color and quickly built up a big white head. As the foam settled, it left a semi-sticky lacing along the side of the glass.

Aroma: Here is where the New Zealand hops take center stage in this Imperial IPA. Right up front, instead of getting the usual pine and citrus bomb, I could pick out more of a melon and grapefruit tone, just like Upslope described it. I also got whiffs of earthy spice, resin, honey and sweet malts. Pine? Yes, a bit, but that's not the main aroma here. Being a big beer, the alcohol was also a bit noticeable in the aroma. If I had smelled this beer blind without knowing what it was I may have been a bit puzzled. I could probably tell this was a hopped up beer, but I had rarely smelled something quite like this. Upslope's beer was pleasant on the nose and curious at the same time.

Upslope Imperial IPA up closeTaste: Ooh wow hops! The bitter wave hit me right up front and stuck with me to the end. Mixed in were some semi-sweet malts and an earthiness. There was a big full bodied mouthfeel here. The alcohol was immediately noticeable, but wasn't overpowering. I could taste the citrus, the bitter hops, the malts and at the end a drying effect. This beer reminded me initially of a Stone Brewing Arrogant Bastard in it's hop boldness, but went in a different direction due to the hop selection. This is definitely NOT a beginners beer, rather for the hop experienced. Don't introduce a Bud Light drinker to this beer or else they won't appreciate it.

Overall: In the end, I was able to finish the entire can without much difficulty and really enjoyed it. It's nice to shake up the usual Double IPA mold and mix in a new variety of hops. If it weren't for the hops it may have been just a good Double IPA, but this one truly impressed. Drink this one slow and consider sharing the can with someone else as there's plenty here for two. I'm glad this beer will be one of Upslope's year-round beers. When I'm in the mood for a big IPA this one will be on my list.

Disclosure: I paid for this beer at my local liquor store myself, but got a huge discount on it because the clerk thought that the price seemed too high for a single beer and slashed the price. Nice eh?

Related articles:
- Royal pint cans used for Upslope's Imperial IPA.
- Upslope Pumpkin Ale review. (2012)
- Upslope Foreign Style Stout review. (2012)

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