(NW) Hopworks Urban Brewery Ace of Spades Imperial India Pale Ale Gets An A-

With the prospect of rain in our future (around the Northwest), its easy to forget that this not only spring, but a time to consider lighter in alcohol beers. But every once in a while a beer graces our palettes and reminds us why the Northwest is a great place to live in.

image Hopworks Ace of Spades Imperial IPA, Oreganic courtesy of our Flickr page A few days ago, as we were coming home we spotted a familiar box resting against our doorstep and in it a bottle of Hopworks Ace of Spades Imperial India Pale Ale.

Too most of you hop heads, the name alone should conjure forth a demonic-like smile, as you ponder what to do with each one of those 100 IBUs (International Bittering Units). For us the answer simple, recall the last time we had an Imperial IPA and it was not too long ago. But to those of you who have yet to enjoy this hop goblin, a bit of a history lesson.

The style believe it or not is a very American one, filled with high gravity and high alphas. Some believe the beer style first appeared (back in 1994) in the kettles of Blind Pig Brewing under brewer Vinnie Cilurzo (now owner and head brewery of Russian River Brewing). Other’s believe it was John Maier respected brewer of Rogue Ales (and an occasional lager) who inspired the style with the I2PA (aka I Squared) in 1990. Whoever was the first, the style has been around for almost two decades and it hasn’t stopped people from trying to make it better, and more enjoyable.

By definition an Imperial IPA (sometimes called Double IPA) must be at least 60 IBUs but not more than 120 IBUs. Overall the alcohol can be between 7.50% and 10.00% Alcohol By Volume. As you can tell there are many great IPAs and Imperial IPAs out there that would be an excellent match. So with this information we proceeded to crack open this wonderfully designed silk screened beer and see what was in store for us.

image Hopworks Ace of Spades Imperial IPA Side-by-Side courtesy of our Flickr page As we pour Hopworks Ace of Spades Imperial IPA into our glass we see the strong copper color come through along with a definite clarity. The beer as it settles into the glass produces a strong off white foamy head that maintains its constitution for some time before finally fading away leaving little to no lacing inside the glass.

Swirling this glass around a few times and resting it under the nose, we pick up strong floral with citrus notes of grapefruit and notes of pine as well as some minor fruit-like esters. Although this beer has a high gravity, it doesn’t put off evidence of this.

Moving the glass to our lips we close our eyes, and take our first sip of pine, with is followed by the familiar grapefruit citrus bitterness. As the beer coarses its way across our tongue we get a slight stickiness and a medium alcohol burn before the beer finishes sweet with hints of caramel on the back of our tongue. General consensus is this beer rests on the tongue with a medium weight.

image Hopworks Ace of Spades Imperial IPA Out of Focus courtesy of our Flickr page Overall this beer is well liked and at 9.50% Alcohol By Volume this is a sipper. Sharing this bottle at dinner would work well if you paired it with a nice piece of salmon or some blue cheese or other sharp cheese.

Score A- , definitely a must have but as with all IPAs, this beer should be consumed sooner rather than later.


Thoughts by your colleagues

About Hopworks Urban Brewery

HUB is Portland’s first Eco-Brewpub to offer all organic handcrafted beers, fresh local ingredients, and a sustainable building with a relaxed and casual atmosphere. Brewmaster Christian Ettinger has spent the past year and half constructing his “dream brewpub.“  HUB incorporates all aspects of sustainability.  From composting to rain barrels, and from pervious pavers to hand dryers, we have made every effort to protect “our“ future with a thoughtful alternative.  Hopworks has four distinct areas including a family friendly restaurant with play area, a vibrant bicycle bar, banquet mezzanine, and outdoor beer-garden.  Our 20 barrel brewery produces 4500 barrels a year and provides our restaurant with ten different HUB organic beers on tap and two cask ales at all times. We have parking for seventy cars, eight motorcycles and up to fifty bikes.  Our world-class beer, New York style pizza, and wonderful staff are some of the best you will find anywhere. –source, Hopworks Urban Brewery


About the photos’ author
Paul “Fruit Trees” Orchard, is an amateur craft beer enthusiast and amateur photographer. Throughout the many years in craft beer he is always carrying a camera (smartphone, digital, traditional) and is invites you to see that beer can also be exciting even if you can’t drink the photo.

In accordance with new FTC regulations regarding bloggers and endorsements, the aforementioned company has provided me a free sample that was used for research prior to writing this review.

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