It's time for another Skype collaboration review, this time I'm joined by Matt Stewart of the "Beards & Beers" channel at http://youtube.com/MtStewart
Matt was up in NYC for 4th of July and picked up a bottle of the Firestone Walker Double Jack IPA because he heard such good things about it. I was in New Jersey recently and I got a bottle as well because Chris Steltz told me he thought this was even better than Pliny The Elder. With an endorsement like that I absolutely had to try it! So would it live up to the hype?
4.2AROMA 9/10 APPEARANCE 4/5 TASTE 9/10 PALATE 3/5 OVERALL 17/20
I poured a 22oz bomber into a tulip glass.
Appearance: Initially a very hazy, bright orange complexion. Forms a fairly large, white, frothy head that retains and laces very well. As I get towards the bottom of the bottom the beer becomes completely transparent and more red (I’ve no idea why, though).
Smell: Strong, sticky, syrup-like scent of mango, guava and papaya with some grapefruit juice. Flowes, pine needles and spiced rum are also quite prominent.
Taste: It’s rare that I encounter a beer whose palate is a combination of intense richness and bitterness simultaneously. Double Jack hits the tongue like pure tropical fruit juice concentrate or preservatives. At fridge temp this taste is actually very refreshing and lightly sweet. Strong bitterness follows immediately thereafter. It’s sticky pine and resin combined with a liquor-like dryness. The tongue is saturated with the juicy sweetness and the hoppy bitterness - which makes for a very strange, but satisfying, sensation.
As the beer warms the fruit flavors become richer and sweeter, tasting more like pure honey, maple syrup, or fruit extract. The bitterness remains about the same, but a rum-like spice begins to take hold as well. It’s definitely a lot for the palate to handle, but because it’s so tasty it’s difficult to stop drinking.
Mouthfeel: Full-bodied in all aspects - thick, sticky mouthfeel with a palate that’s always intense. What’s amazing is despite the intense palate the hops do not linger here, giving the beer an amazing clean finish with no cloying, drying aftertaste.
Drinkability: The only thing keeping Double Jack from being a perfect beer is the fact it’s a sipper. Even at fridge temp I found it difficult to drink more than a sip at a time. The sweetness and bitterness overwhelm the palate with a slight alcohol warmth on the throat. I guess this is to be expected considering it’s 9.5% ABV, although I have had even bigger beers that were smoother. This would probably be an ideal beer to pair with a hearty, spicy meal, but as a beer within itself its still enjoyable - but drinking more than one serving is challenging.
Overall, Double Jack is one of the most impressive double IPAs I’ve ever had. And while I wouldn’t consider it a perfect beer, I understand where it’s reputation comes from.