Phillips Cabin Fever Imperial Black IPA

Cabin-Fever-Black-IPAIt’s a good thing when you and a major craft-brewery find yourself on the same page/ It seems that happened twice to me today, once with Driftwood’s latest release and again with Phillips. All this convergence which makes me wonder if some people in the local brewing industry have been reading my blog. I doubt it, but it’s nice to pretend. In any case, the second convergence between my thoughts and a brewers’ product came in the form of Phillips latest limited release, known as Cabin Fever Imperial Black IPA.

Brewed in honor of the change of the seasons, and consistent with Phillips time-tested philosophy of combining two or more styles together, this beer combines the deep roasted malt character of a black ale with the bitter, hoppy kick of an IPA. And to top it all off, they fermented it for an extended period of time to make it especially strong. Yes, on top of its  stout-like profile and heavily hopped character, it also weighs in at a hefty 8.5% alc/vol. And in the end, the flavors accent it each other very well, with the coffee notes of the dark ale playing well with the herbal, citrus bite of an IPA’s worth of hops.

Appearance: Black as tar, opaque, good foam retention and carbonationNose: Deep roasted malts, discernible bitter hop presence
Taste: Immediate burst of citrus malts, tawny malt flavor, herbal notes
Aftertaste: Lingering bitterness of coffee-like malts and citrus rind
Overall: 8.5/10

All in all, this beer was quite the interesting combination, and certainly made for a good all around drinking experience. Though definitely not for the faint of heart or the delicate of palette, it was one of the best dark IPA’s I’ve had of late. As I’m sure I’ve said before, this sort of combination has become quite popular in recent years, but this has to be the first time that it was so thematically consistent with the time of its release. Strong dark ale, citrusy IPA, it’s like winter and spring all rolled into one!

The Season of IPA!

IPAMy apologies for the prolonged absence, fellow beer snobs. Unfortunately, the Spring season has not been kind to me, as it chose to greet me with the worst cold I’ve had in ages! Luckily, I’ve emerged from my self-imposed two week hiatus from all things alcoholic, and have chosen to do not one review, not a two-fer, but a three-fer! Alongside an older sampler from late last month, I managed to procure two entirely new beers that fit with my latest theme – Spring Seasonals. And since the venerable IPAs are now making the rounds, I thought I might also dedicate the rest of March to sampling as many new limited releases and old favorites as I can. Here’s what I’ve managed to try so far…

Driftwood Twenty Pounder IPA:
driftwood_20pounder_largeThis is now the third year in a row that Driftwood has released its signature double IPA. And lucky me, I finally got my hands on a bottle and sat down to give it a thorough tasting. Named in honor of Victoria’s proud naval tradition, where field guns that relied on 20 lbs cannon balls were deployed to defend the coast, this beer is an IPA that lives up to its name. Extra strong in alcohol content and employing a double dose of hops, it is surprisingly light in color but heavy on flavor and hardcore hop and citrus content!

Appearance: Light amber, transparent, good foam and carbonation
Nose: Highly floral and citrusy bouquet, notes of orange and grapefruit
Taste: Sweet malts, citrus hops, piney, touch of sweet grapefruit flavor
Aftertaste: Lingering piney bitterness, more notes of citrus
Overall: 9/10

Gigantic India Pale Ale:
Gigantic IPAThis beer and its brewery are entirely new to me, and comes to us from south of the border. Not surprisingly, it is brewed in Portland, Oregon, the state with more breweries per capita than any in the US. And what better place to start with their lineup, now that the season of IPA is upon us! And all in all, I was quite pleased with this beer. In every measurable way, it was a faithful and fitting example of a Northwestern IPA and craft brewing.

Appearance: Deep golden, good foam retention and carbonation
Nose: Strong hints of tropical fruit, light malts
Taste: Immediate burst of Cascade hop bitterness, light malts, little sweetness
Aftertaste: Lingering bitterness and taste of citrus rind
Overall: 8/10

Vancouver Island Absolute Darkness:
absolutedarknessLast but not least, there’s the latest release from Vancouver Island Brewery. As I’ve said before, I approve highly of the way they’ve started to incorporate limited releases into their lineup, effectively demonstrating a renewed committed to craft brewing. And with this beer, a combination Dark Ale, India Pale Ale, they’ve once again shown that they’re current. For the past few years, dark IPA’s (or Black IPAs as they are sometimes known) have been all the rage. And named in honor of Vancouver Island’s coal mining heritage, it combines stout-like characteristics with traditional IPA, resulting in a beer that is tawny, malty, hoppy, has some strong notes of coffee and some citrus.

Appearance: Deep black, good foam retention, dense with lower carbonation
Nose: Tawny malts, notes of coffee and Cascade hops
Taste: Immediate bitterness and citrus, giving way to coffee-like bitterness
Aftertaste: Long and lingering taste of dark toasted malts
Overall: 8.5/10