Yesterday, in one of my regular Tuesday late night close-the-bar-down sessions at the Horse Brass, I found Oakshire’s single batch tribute beer to the late Glen Falconer on tap. Hop Vice is an Imperial IPA in strength alone and affords me an opportunity to share some thoughts on Imperial IPAs that I have been mulling over for awhile…
Back to the Horse Brass.
Glancing over the guest taps menu, a few beers popped out. I was in the mood for something hoppy and I had not yet had the Oakshier Hop Vice. Oakshire has done well by hops in the past, but the recent trend of sickly sweet or acridly bitter in Imperial IPAs had me spooked.
Curious, but not convinced, I asked for a sample of the beer before committing to a full Imperial Pint. Upon first look, before even trying it, I could tell it was up my alley. It had the appearance of an unfiltered pilsner or light pale ale – golden yellow and slightly hazy.
In taste it is exactly the kind of IPA I seek out these days: hops forward, citrusy (but not overly so), with light malts that provide a backbone to the hops but do not compete. Fresh floral hops and cereal-like grain balance nicely, yielding to a dry, crisp finish with no trace of the booze. In other words, an Imperial IPA I could drink all day. Or at least try to.
According to the stats on Oakshire’s website, this beer is 8.8% Abv and more then 100 IBUs. Man, if that is true, this beer is a miracle because it did not get me very buzzed, nor did I find it all that bitter.
Do not get me wrong, it is a hoppy beast, but not to the bitterness level of some recent entries in the style. Oakshire’s description calls the beer “a lesson in simplicity” that would seem to be true in the best sense. The beer uses only one malt (2-row Rahr barley), one hop (Simcoe, one of the best and most distinct), and one yeast – the American Ale Yeast, which is also probably the best yeast for producing hoppy beers (it is the same strain that Sierra Nevada uses).