Time for another episode of Silvio Saturday. Today’s it’s a double review of imperial IPAs. I really need to get back to beer reviews this week…Silvio is on track to review more beer than me this year! Silvio….
Not much of significance to report this week, long week of work and I’m looking forward to a nice weekend. Hopefully I’ll get to hike with my dog today, weather permitting. Before that point, though, it was pretty much an average Friday night in my household – dinner, gym, some Mario Kart and a few good beers.
I went with big IPAs this week – Mendocino’s Imperial IPA and Mad River Brewing Company’s Steelhead Double IPA. Both promise tons of hops and high ABVs, whee!
First up, Mendocino. This is a Saratoga Springs, NY brewery, a region known for horse racing, not beer, but they do a pretty good job with the Imperial IPA. The pour was unremarkable, no real foam head, but it has a beautiful dark amber color, and is quite cloudy. The smell is amazing, though. It’s aromatic with lots of pine and hoppy notes. If I could wear beer cologne, this would be the one.
Taste-wise, it’s a letdown from the smell – I feel like the smell overpromised a bit. The front is overly stanky and hoppy, to the point of being a little too much, even for a hop head like me. Pine is definitely the dominant flavor. It mellows through the middle with a nice subtle roasted malt flavor, and ends with a long bitter note. The flavor is very strong and stays on your tongue. Big ABV, too, clocking in at 8.0%.
Next up, Mad River Brewing Company’s Steel Head Double IPA. This is a true Northern California IPA in every regard. Brewed in Blue Lake CA, the smell is much more nuanced than the Mendocino. It’s hoppy and aromatic, but doesn’t hit you over the head with stankiness. 8.6% ABV. Awesome pour, too. Very dark amber color like the first, but with a solid one finger head, and lots of suspended sediment floating in the glass.
This brew’s flavor really distinguishes itself – it’s one of the most complex and distinct IPAs I’ve ever had. I got a ton of malts on the front, almost caramel in roasted sweetness. After the malts, big hops follow in the middle and end. They’re sweet through the middle and transition to a bitter note on the end, but every second of it is delicious. The most surprising thing for me with this IPA is the reversal of malts and hops – I’m used to big hops up front and malts on the end, but this is completely opposite. Seriously good, and big ABV at 8.6%.