Admittedly a bit late in covering this nearly month old release, but we thought a revisit from our tasting notes might remind you there are some good beers still out there. Back on the 21st of April a few lucky sods got a chance to pick up a bottle of Redhook's newest annual release, the Big Ballard Imperial IPA. As we looked at the bottle with its iconic and familiar character we felt the need for a refresher on what a Imperial India Pale Ale is.
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 newly released spin on the classic 'Ballard Bitter'
As the beer is swirled around, we rest our nose over the beer to take in the noticeable floral, grapefruit and fruity aromas.
With our first sip we detect a dry, sweet caramel malt backend that only gives way to the lingering bitterness. A noticeable but almost muted alcohol burn is there but nothing what you would expect for a 9.50% Alcohol by Volume Double IPA. Overall mouthfeel has a medium weight to it and without any stickiness one might expect with a beer such as this.
Given the specifications on this beer, it's a bit frightening that there aren't any warning signs (alcohol burn, etc.) to lull people from being too comfortable with this beer. Overall a welcome treat though from the brewery that brought us the banana beer.
Thoughts by your colleagues
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.