In an earlier post, I stated my adoration for Wormtown Brewery's, Be Hoppy. At the time of the post, it ranked as my fourth favorite beer brewed in the Commonwealth, so when I saw, Hopulence, Wormtown's Double (Imperial) IPA, I quickly snatched it off the shelf.
This double IPA pours a pure copper color, without the luster. The body of the beer was somewhat cloudy allowing just enough light to penetrate the beer making my fingers visible through the glass. There was very little in the way for head retention or lacing* which is somewhat disappointing.
The aroma has an abundance of malt sweetness, which was unexpected. I anticipated a full bouquet of hop aromatics wafting endlessly, but this double IPA contains little hop aromatics. The hop presence that is detected is full of grapefruit character with undercurrents of floral earthiness. Also, there are hints of a warming sensation due to the high alcohol content of the beer.
The beginning of the taste is dominated by a malt sweetness. As this sweetness subsides, there is a sharp and aggressive bitterness the does not linger on the palate for very long. The bitterness is full of grapefruit that parallels the aroma, but I was hoping for some notes of other tropical fruits: pineapple or mango. As the beer warms, the hop bitterness becomes more dominate in the taste profile creating a balance of bitterness and sweetness.
The mouthfeel is medium-bodied. It is somewhat chewy and slick. At 8.5% ABV and 120 I.B.U's (is this possible?) this is a BIG beer, delicious, but not Be Hoppy. It is bordering a sweetness level that is a little cloying in a double IPA. The website boasts,
"Once we started hopping this beer stopping was impossible. Emphasizing Amarillo, Horizon, Summit, and Glacier hops with support from 5 other American varieties. Hops were added in every conceivable part of the brewing process. Whole leaf in the mash, hop forwarded (lautered through whole cones), hop backed, first wort hopped, kettle hopped with pellets and extract, and dry hopped in the fermenter and brite tanks."
Even with the exuberant amount of hop additions, the hop aroma and flavor left me somewhat perplexed. Well, not really, I just wanted more hop character in this double IPA. I have great fondness of the Wormtown Brewery and products, but this beer left me longing for bolder, more flavorful interpretation of the style.
*Recently, I found a homebrewing podcast, Basic Brewing, where the host, James Spencer spoke with homebrew guru, John Palmer. They discuss how soapy glassware can disrupt head retention and cause other unwanted tastes in the beer.