New Glarus Brewing
When New Glarus Brewing releases a new beer, it's always worth taking notice. But if you are a hop-head, the latest creation of brewmaster Dan Carey is crying for attention. He has taken the West Coast in-your-face resiny beers that seem to "double" everything in the recipe, and refined them into something much more palatable. Simply named Imperial India Pale Ale, or IIPA, it's the new installment in the brewery's limited-release series of Thumb Print signature beers.
What is it? IIPA from New Glarus Brewing Company of New Glarus.
Style: Imperial India Pale Ale is also called a double IPA. It is commonly gold to reddish amber in color, with medium- to full-bodied mouthfeel, and has a strong hop profile featuring resiny and citrus tones. Technically, there should be some robust maltiness and sweetness in the background, adding complexity to the flavor profile. The finish will have some alcoholic warmth. The style can be quite strong, ranging from 7.5% to 10% ABV. The imperial IPA is an American creation, evolving from the hop lovers' quest for bitterness.
Background: New Glarus made an imperial IPA a few years ago, but this is a different beer, says Carey. IIPA is made with English malts and four different American hops in equal amounts, even in the dry hopping process. Carey won't identify the varieties that go into the recipe, challenging hop-heads to name them.
Carey's intent with IIPA was to make a beer with refined bitterness, with balance and personality from the malt. Much of the mouthfeel and smooth maltiness comes from the English Maris Otter malt.
Those who follow New Glarus closely might notice that this is the first beer to have the "Thumb Print" label, which replaces the "Unplugged" branding. This year, the brewery will turn out six different Thumb Print releases, which may or may not be brewed again.
New Glarus IIPA takes about a month to make and is bottle-conditioned. At over 9% ABV and 85 IBUs (International Bittering Units), it finishes as a big beer. It just arrived on store shelves, and sells for approximately $10/4-pack.
In other news from New Glarus, its new Two Women Lager is also hitting store shelves in April, after first appearing last summer in 500 ml. bottles available only at the brewery. This new version will be available in six-packs.
- Aroma: Strong notes of citrus and piney hoppiness.
- Appearance: Hazy deep golden, almost light amber color. The head is soft and off-white in color.
- Texture: Full-bodied and soft.
- Taste: A sharp, citrus-like hoppiness to the start, then strong bitterness takes over. There is a smooth, round, firm maltiness, which adds depth and warmth.
- Finish/Aftertaste: A clean, sharp bitterness with a light, lingering dryness.
Glassware: When served at your favorite tavern, IIPA, with its golden color and assertive hoppy-resiny aroma, will stand up well in the basic nonik (bar) pint glass. However, I prefer a chilled (but not icy-frozen) schooner style of mug, which insulates the beer, keeping it modestly cold to accentuate the bitterness. As the beer slowly warms, you'll find a spicy complexity from the malt that adds depth and character.
Pairs well with: You need an aggressive entree with this beer. Entrées featuring Cajun or Indian spices will compete very nicely with the bitterness and dry finish.
Rating: Four Bottle Openers (out of four).
The Verdict: New Glarus Imperial India Pale Ale is very drinkable. It offers a controlled bitterness, one that is not so aggressive or over the top that you don't want another. I found it to be a very enticing bitter beer, with up-front piney and resiny tones that blend with its underlying maltiness and warmth. All that gives way quickly to a dryness that lingers but doesn't stay too long on the palate, like some "hop monster" beers. For such an assertive beer, it's a nice complement to a meal because it leaves room for other flavors.