If you’re already sick of reading my glory days posts where I tell you about that time that I was a professional brewer (“professional” in the sense that I was in charge of a complete brewery from grain to glass to advertising to peddling and that it was what I did to make a living) then we’re going to have a problem because in order for me to get to where I need to get in telling you about the things we need to discuss today, I kind of need to back it up with fact and fun stories to give the current material some validity and substance.
That said, back in the good old days of me being a sanitation expert and yeast wrangler, it was a whole different ball game in the brewing scene. I make a non-funny joke about knowing Mosaic back when it was HBC 369 and it never calls anymore, which about three people just laughed at and one of them in my mother just trying to be polite and another one is the person writing this.
At some point in the earlier part of my career, brewers started making “extreme” beers. One of the festivals that I attended with my brand was in the height of this movement and it was akin to, I can only imagine, a chocolate themed birthday party for one year old humans without parental units hovering about them.
I mostly blame Sam Adams Utopia for this. All of a sudden it wasn’t hip to have beers on tap that weren’t above ten percent in alcohol. Brewers were tasked to make MORE: MORE hops, MORE alcohol, MORE malty backbones, MORE yeast somehow. And I followed suit. The beer that I won the most awards for, the beer that I was actually known for and made my name in the industry because was a Barley Wine, hovering around 13 percent that underwent four different fermentations and held up one of my five fermenters for three months and would go on tap and be completely sold out within two weeks.
But, the customer’s cravings didn’t cease.
And without the customers, we wouldn’t be in business, so brewers had to create something that satiated the MORE chant with a HERE offering.
Enter, the IMPERIAL IPA.
But here’s the catch: the customer screamed for the MORE side while the brewers gave them one of the old “cool, yeah, calm down a little, why don’t you try this first, I think you’ll like it.” And then the customer suddenly had something that was balanced (as balanced as you can possibly make a beer with that many hops in it and that strong in alcohol) AND had a good dose of alcohol. Suddenly, all of those people whose palates had shifted towards all things hoppy had something to crave that was even more hoppy than their go to IPAs and Pale Ales. Suddenly, we had something that went to the MORE.
Imperial IPAs will have a fruity sweetness to them due to the increase in malt needed to up that alcohol with an intense and bitter resinous coating for your mouth. It will move from the back of your tongue to the front, landing in a sweet spot that will tell you it’s “sweet” but it’s kind of not, that’s malt. And yes, “sweet” is the right term for it but I can’t ever think about a different word that really means “sweet from malt” because it’s different. We’re not talking about twizzlers.
Right now, I’ve got two (on at this second and one coming VERY soon) for you to sip on (please sip of these beers – that’s the intention here) that will provide you with all of the lupulin goodness that you’re craving in a single sip although according to proverb it’s best to be thorough.
14th Star Triple Digits – Volume 1: made to commemorate Steve’s 999 days left in the Army, this was brewed to 9.99% and they made 999 gallons of it. And jeezum crow did they put a bunch of hops in this one.
Hill Farmstead Ephraim (Coming Very Soon)– an eponymous version of the style. The thing that sets theirs apart and champions that moniker is the creamy aspect of this beer. It’s so smooth.
So that’s the deal-e-o.