It’s “National IPA Day”… contrived and asinine in my opinion. IPA is the most popular craft beer style on the market, for years running. It get more than enough recognition, and it does not need a holiday. But, in defense of the style, I liken it to the garage band that makes it big commercially: craft beer snobs have begun sticking their noses up at it, simply because of it’s popularity.
Sure, it’s annoying to find IPAs dominating beer bar taps, when there are so many other interesting styles to try. But if it sells, it’s going on the tap, simple as that. Therefore, almost all craft breweries offer at least one take on the IPA if not more (english, american, imperial, double IPA, etc). The IPA success caused a huge push to create bigger and hoppier regardless of the fact that many of these monstrosities can only be handled in a thimble-sized glass.
All that said, I still love a good IPA, dammit. American IPAs showcase hugely aromatic hops that challenge the taste buds, wrecking palettes and causing one to need a designated driver after just a few pints. There’s long been a designation of West Coast vs East Coast versions of American IPAs, with the West Coast being much more in your face regarding hops and ABV, while East Coast IPAs tend to be a bit more balanced and moderate in ABV. Of course, with the explosion in popularity of West Coast IPAs, more and more breweries regardless of location are attacking the style with “bigger” in mind.
I’ve found myself shying away from Imperial/Double IPAs lately as I find many to be too big, with what I refer to as a sweetness from the alcohol. Perhaps it’s simply due to the amount of grain required to hit those high ABVs and to compete with the 80+ IBU levels. One such beer, which is a highly regarding DIPA, is Avery’s Maharaja. I didn’t even finish the bomber I tried. And this was not inexpensive. Another highly respected DIPA is Firestone Walker’s Double Jack. I liked it more than the Maharaja, but still, it’s not something I would bother ordering again. I did however enjoy Firestone’s Union Jack IPA from which the DoubleJack is derived. But note that the Union Jack IPA is 7.5%. This is where lines get fuzzy… Troegs Perpetual is also 7.5%, but called an Imperial IPA, Union Jack is “just” and IPA. But given their ABVs, I call them comparable regardless of name. I also prefer the Tröegs, and many would look down their noses at me because of that, seeing that Firestone Walker is considered one of if not THE top craft breweries in the country.
What it now comes down to is personal preference. When I want a big, flavorful IPA, I tend to lean towards the very dry, hop-forward, less balanced IPA, like this Tröegs Perpetual IPA or, say, Stone’s “standard” IPA (they produce so many variations of the style), which has always been a favorite of mine. But the Perpetual IPA is giving Stone a run for its money here. Light in color, with a grain bill of mostly Pilsen, with some munich and C80 crystal malts. Given how light a gold color this is, I’m guessing the C80 is a very small percentage. And this is why I think I like it so much. Not too much caramel from the crystal malt. Very well attenuated resulting in the dry finish. This is unbalanced for sure, but in a way I love… hop-centric. The nose is spicy/piney with some citrus as well. (as opposed to many of the ALL citrus bombs out there) I’ve never brewed with Nugget hops, but from what I understand, they are what’s giving me the spicy herbal qualities, similar to a Northern Brewer hop. It’s a high alpha acid hop, with lots of bittering power, which is where many tend to use it… early in the boil to bitter. But this is also providing a lot of aroma as Nugget is one of the hops used in dry-hopping this IPA (along with Citra and Cascade, hence the citrus).
To be honest, I’ve tried several Tröegs brews, and have always come away feeling, well, that was ok… but rarely has one made me care to go buy another 6 or 12-pack. Their Nugget Nectar is an annual limited release brew which causes a HUGE stir when it comes out every year. People load up on very expensive cases of it and often I hear of it being hard to find as it sells out quickly (not the case for me this year as I saw 6-packs of it in our local packie for quite a while). It’s kind of an Imperial Amber, but hopped like an IPA. 93 ibu’s, 7.5% ABV, with it’s color coming from munich and vienna malts (pils base like Perpetual). I bought a sixer this year and I was not impressed. With all the hype it gets I was expecting too much I guess, but the hop flavors did nothing for me.
This Perpetual IPA I have to say, is the first from Tröegs that makes me want more. Word is it’s now a year-round release, which also makes my day. This will replace Stone IPA for that big, hop-forward west coast IPA for me. Plus, the Stone IPA i typically find only in 22 oz bomber or very expensive 6-packs. Perpetual wins on cost too. Not cheap, but I don’t think it’s reaching the Stone price for 6-packs. And who knows, I might even be able to get the Tröegs in 12-packs.
It packs a wallop at 7.5 though. It’s no session beer. But if I’m just going to hunker down at home and have a couple beers, this is going to be a “go-to” brew for me.