It’s rare that a beer will catch me off guard these days – I guess it’s part of being a beer geek in the information age. I usually know a little something about most beers before I try them for the first time, at least the good ones.
I guess there’s also a legion of craft beers out there that I know nothing about, but that’s mostly because there’s nothing noteworthy about them, they are unsung for a reason.
But then there are the gems that fall between these two groups – the amazing beers that you’ve never heard of. The ones that surprise you when they hit your palate.
I had one of those last night.
I picked up a bomber of this Imperial IPA without really looking at the label. I knew I hadn’t seen it before, and I was in the mood for something new, plus I was craving hops, so it definitely fit the bill. I threw it in the fridge when I got home and promptly forgot all about it.
Fast forward to last night, when I was thirsty for a hopped-up treat. I remembered I had this puppy in the fridge, so I cracked it open, and it proceeded to blow off the top of my head.
It was perhaps the most intense IPA I’ve ever had. I could almost feel a thin film of hops coating my mouth. It was so intense, it almost overwhelmed my ability to process how it tasted, like when you turn up music so loud you can no longer hear the melody, you just feel the sound in your chest.
The beer in question is Old Schoolhouse Imperial IPA from Washington State. It has an ABV of around 9% (details are sketchy online and I didn’t check the bottle before recycling it) and is brewed with Columbus, Warrior, Centennial, Cascade, Amarillo, Simcoe, Citra hops.
The result is an intensely hoppy brew that leans more towards pine trees than grapefruits in flavor profile, which is how I like them. Add in a boozy backside, and I was in heaven. People are always going on about west coast IPA’s (mostly people from the west coast, it turns out) and I have to hand it to them – this west coast beer won my heart.
Even my wife enjoyed it, and she doesn’t like hoppy beers. I think the trick is that this beer goes so far beyond hoppy, it has become an entirely different thing, like a beer infused with some kind of delicious herbal resin. She asked for more than a couple of sips as she too tried to wrap her mind around this tasty treat.
One of the great things about being a craft beer geek is that there’s always a new surprise waiting around the corner. I had such a surprise last night, and it makes me want to go back to the beer store and load up on random beers I know nothing about in hopes of a repeat performance.
Of course I’ll also throw in an Old Schoolhouse IIPA – I’d like to ride that roller coaster one more time!