Saturday, August 31, 2013

Karl Strauss Big Barrel Double IPA

3.6
   AROMA 7/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 7/10   PALATE 4/5   OVERALL 14/20
Chad9976 (960) - Albany, New York, USA - AUG 31, 2013
I poured a 22oz bottle into a goblet. It seemed to have a freshness date of June 24. I got this at #BBC13.

Appearance: Bright orange hue over a hazy body, though carbonation is visible. Forms a good sized, ivory, frothy head which laces and retains well.

Smell: Remarkably sweet for the style with a flowery, candy-like aroma plus fruit juice concentrate.

Taste: Sometimes I like balanced IPAs, other times I don’t. Karl Strauss Big Barrel Double IPA makes me question which is better since it has both hop bitterness and malty sweetness to an extremely high degree. I don’t think I’ve encountered a brew of the style that was so strong in both aspects simultaneously. This makes for an interesting beer to say the least. A great beer? Not so much.

This beer confuses my tongue. Initially, I taste a sweetness not unlike children’s cereal or bubblegum or powdery candy like Sweet Tarts. But at the same time I also taste sharp, dry bitterness. It’s so intense, actually, that it almost seems to be salty. If this were an old bottle I could understand, but it’s quite fresh. That’s not to say the beer isn’t enjoyable, quite the contrary. The sweetness, while strong, is not sickly or cloying - just flavorful enough to enjoy while it’s in the mouth. The bitterness is perhaps even stronger, but it never flies out of control. The Nelson Sauvin hops also create for some subtle fruity characteristics, which are pleasant. Overall, this is a beer whose eccentricities are both attributes and flaws.

Drinkability: This is a beer that definitely lives up to its "Double IPA" name. It’s full-bodied with constant flavor, but it’s delivered via a comfortable body. The mouthfeel is soft, calm and smooth with an aftertaste that’s relatively clean (just a subtle dryness). At 9% ABV, "Big Barrel" doesn’t feel nearly as big as it is since there’s no alcohol warmth or distracting qualities. Highly recommend to pair with food to offset the palette. 
Grade: 7/10