A friend texted me this morning: “All of us are going to the Bistro for the double IPA fest today.” I got all worked up for about 90 seconds, until I realized he was off by a week, and it’s not until next Saturday. Which is a workday for me. Damn.
If you’re fan of giant beers, the Double IPA Fest is the Super Bowl of tastings. Held at a little beer bar in Hayward, it’s the flagship event in this year’s SF Beerfest. I would so be there if I could. But since I can’t, I’ll have to make do with a few Plinys and maybe a Racer X down at my local pub to wash away the grief.
Here’s a little backstory for the non-beergeeks. Once upon a time, when the sun never set on England’s empire, her Majesty’s soldiers needed a beer that could travel for months without refrigeration. The resulting style, known as India Pale Ale (IPA), was brewed like a conventional pale ale but with more hops and a higher alcohol content, resulting in a longer shelf life. Flash-forward to the modern age, when some brewers decided to up the ante by adding still more hops and alcohol, resulting in the “West Coast” or “American” style of IPA. From there it was a short, booze-addled leap to the “Double,” or “Imperial” style of IPA, based on the notion that there’s no such thing as too much of a good thing. The double IPA (DIPA) is nothing less than a fistfight in a bottle, with alcohol in the 10 percent range and enough hops to make you feel like you’ve been clobbered in the mouth with a sack of pomelos. Yeah!
So if you’re going to the Bistro next weekend (lucky bastard), or if you just want to arrange a little tasting at home (hide the car keys mate), here’s my checklist of must-try beers in the DIPA category:
– Hopnotic from San Diego Brewing, Hip Hop from Hollister Brewing, and Hop 15 from Port Brewing. I haven’t had any of these but they were the gold, silver, and bronze winners in the category at last year’s Great American Beer Festival.
– I’d also check out Hop Suey, another well-regarded DIPA from Port Brewing, Marin Brewing’s White Knuckle, recommended by my good friend Doc Anderson, and Russian River’s Pliny the Younger, which I’ve had only once at the brewery, and remember quite fondly.
Let’s see: are we out of beer tickets yet? It’s hard not to like the Green Flash Imperial and Stone’s Ruination, two stalwarts in the field. Of course Moylan’s should be on the list, with their benchmark Moylander and the legendary Hopsickle, which is so incredibly hopped up it will actually make the inside of your mouth sting like you’ve swallowed a jellyfish. In a good way.
I’d go on, but writing this is making me incredibly thirsty. Maybe I’ll head over to Raleigh’s and see if they’ve still got that cask-conditioned Bombay by Boat from Moonlight on the hand pump. Cheers!