4.1AROMA 9/10 APPEARANCE 4/5 TASTE 8/10 PALATE 4/5 OVERALL 16/20
I’ve never attempted any home brewing because I think certain things should be left to the professionals. Well, Jim Koch, the inventor of the Samuel Adams line of beers (who also started out as a home brewer) has constantly encouraged more “lunatics” like him to get into the beer-brewing game. Mike McDole of California heeded that call with his Double IPA, one of the 2008 winners of the Samuel Adams “Long Shot” line of beers.
What’s particularly interesting about this beer is not only is it an India Pale Ale, but a double IPA at that. Samuel Adams has never, to my knowledge, brewed an IPA and that they would brew a homemade imperial version of the style is quite a leap for them. Perhaps they can take a cue from their contest winner and brew some beers catering to hop heads like me.
APPEARANCE AND AROMA
This beer pours smoothly to a color which could best be described as “dirty orange.” There is no sediment noticeable per se, but the body is not transparent. It produces an off-white, creamy/foamy head which leaves a ring of lacing around the inside of the glass for every individual swig. The aroma is very strong with a heavy citrus component as well as a thick, sweet maltiness. Alcohol is noticeable, but it takes a back seat to the genuine scents here.
I have no idea how difficult it is to brew an IPA, much less a double IPA, but Mike McDole has made it look easy. The label indicates that the beer is made with seven varieties of hops and has a “great malty foundation” – both descriptions which are deadly accurate upon the first swig.
I was immediately reminded of Dogfish Head’s 90 Minute IPA as I took my first taste of Long Shot Double IPA. A thick, rich, grapefruit-like taste is immediately noticeable with a rich malty finish. There is a very bitter undertone to this palate, but it is not crisp due to the heavy body. In fact, the flavor is so strong it borders on an all-out syrup quality.
This is a beer for hop heads as it really is a mélange of tart bitterness. The label does not indicate which type of hops were used in the brewing of this beer, but IPA fans will find the taste familiar (I’m thinking cascade, fuggles and Mt. Hood?). Unfortunately, the pedestrian drinker will likely find it too bitter and intense to appreciate (a reviewer on YouTube described it as tasting like unsweetened grapefruit juice and hated it). This is an acquired taste, but that’s the point I suppose.
If the drinker can appreciate the strong citrusy flavor to Long Shot Double IPA they’ll be equally impressed with the beer’s drinkability. Although it does have a thick, almost chewy-like mouthfeel, this beer is extremely smooth. Because the bitterness is so intense (I’d estimated the IBU rating at about 80) there really is no bite. I did notice a bit of a dry finish due to the alcohol content and a slightly salty aftertaste, but overall I think this is a surprisingly drinker-friendly brew,
While the label clearly indicates a potency of 9% ABV, I would describe the perceived weight of the beer to be much lower. As thick as the mouthfeel is and as intense as the taste is, Long Shot Double IPA does not feel nearly as heavy as its statistics would indicate. I was able to drink two bottles back-to-back and felt only buzzed and certainly not overwhelmed or bloated. I think if this beer was paired with food, it would be a different story, though.
I’ve been waiting for the Boston Beer Company to brew an IPA for years and that they would finally do so with a home brewed Double IPA really impresses me. This beer could easily contend with some of the bigger name imperial IPAs from the better craft brews. Many of the Samuel Adams beers are acquired tastes, as is this beer, but once you acquire said taste your appreciation for the craftsmanship is all the more intensified.