Monday, February 20, 2012

Alpine Exponential Hoppiness

This another one of those beers I've heard a lot of great things about from people whose opinions I really respect (Ryan, Peter, Chris). But like so many beers that THE must-have beer of the moment, Alpine Exponential Hoppiness is of course quite rare and only available at the brewery. Thankfully is within a short [?] driving distance away and agree to pick me up a bottle in our recent beer trade. So will this live up to the hype? Only one way to find out....

   AROMA 9/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 9/10   PALATE 5/5   OVERALL 18/20
Chad9976 (620) - Albany, New York, USA - FEB 18, 2012
The "Triple IPA" may not be classified as a real style just yet, but when you’ve drank as many beers as I have you start to notice variations even within specific niche styles. Usually beers of that style are just carbonated bitter syrup, but Alpine Exponential Hoppiness is quite unique in that it’s extremely drinkable, tasty, and even refreshing for a beer considering how much of a monster beer it is.

I received a 22oz bottle in a trade with a friend in San Diego (thanks, Ryan!). I split it with a friend. I poured my half into a tulip glass.

Appearance: Typical west coast glowing orange marmalade hue; very cloudy body with only little carbonation visible. Forms a good sized, eggshell colored, creamy froth head which laces and retains very well.

Smell: Like a bag of pure tropical fruit juice concentrate. Plenty of tropical fruit, but dominated by grapefruit and hop flowers. An underlying candy aroma of Sweet Tarts and a touch of honey.

Taste: When a beer smells like liquid fruit candy it tends to taste the same. That’s the thing about hops - they smell so juicy that sometimes we forget hops are for bittering. As soon as Alpine Exponential Hoppiness hit my tongue the first flavor I got was intense hoppy bitterness. It’s slightly dry, but it’s quickly refreshed by the delicious, authentic fruitiness of the palate. A wave of sweet, sticky, almost syrup-like flavors of mango, guava and grapefruit saturate the palate.

The finish reverts back to the bitterness with a distinct resin-like flavor and aftertaste. It’s also somewhat gummy and a tad astringent (like burnt gum?). A light honey taste also appears alongside the tropical and citrus fruit flavors of the main palate. The only problem is it’s a tad too sweet, bordering on becoming cloying, although the strong hop presence helps to balance that out. I’m not sure of the IBU rating of this beer but would estimate it’s well over 100. So you get a lot of bitterness and a lot of sweetness simultaneously. This is one of those big IPAs that walks that fine line between intensely flavored and overly-flavored.

Drinkability: The mouthfeel is noticeably thick and a little less carbonated than I’d prefer since it hits the tongue with a thud instead of a crisp crackle. It’s soft, comfortable, and even borderline creamy which enables it to go down extremely smooth. At 11% ABV you’d think there would be a lot of heat and burn, but the booze is nowhere to be found. I didn’t even start to feel buzzed until about 20 minutes after drinking my pint. Alpine Exponential Hoppiness is a pretty versatile beer as you can truly enjoy it on its own or match it with a variety of food pairings.
Grade: 10/10

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