Thursday, December 13, 2012

TNBR: Bootlegger's Knuckle Sandwich DIPA

Once more unto the breach, my dear friends, once more!

Welcome to another edition of Thursday Night Smackdown Beer Review. It's been a fun week of visiting old friends and finding new ones, and hey! I topped 20 likes on Facebook! Do you know what that means?... If you do, let me know, because I honestly don't know what this has to do with anything.

But I digress. This week, I found myself craving brews of a stronger variety, and by God, I've decided to just go all out and destroy my tongue with the proverbial right-hook-to-uppercut combo that is alpha hops and IBUs (International Bitterness Units, for the unawares). What's more, I've stuck to a theme and gone local again! And all of this amidst the craft vs. crafty discussion going on in the beer world of late.

What can I say? I'm awesome like that... but I'll put my egocentrism aside for a moment  and actually talk about that beer thing that I titled my blog after. (EDITORS NOTE: You named it after yourself too, you pedantic kumquat).

Bootlegger's Knuckle Sandwich Double IPA

Prepared to meet Chris Tucker, because you're about to get KNOCKED DA FUGGOUT!

The Double IPA. This style is like Juan Marquez if your tastebuds were Manny Pacquiao. Knocked da fuggout. IPAs are hop madness to begin with, and the IIPA takes this to its logical conclusion by routinely eclipsing 90 IBUs and up with alcohol content to boot. Not for beginners at all, so if hops aren't your think, steer clear. Steer very clear... like, this beer is Billy Joel behind the wheel clear.

Now, me? I'm a hop fiend through and through. I don't care of its Simcoe hops, Amarillo hops, or Cascade hops, you will hear me going, "Hell yeah!" as if I were under the impression that this style is Stone Cold Steve Austin.

So naturally, when an excellent local brewer makes an IIPA that has a bit of renowned status in the local beer scene (and with a score of 95 on its Beer Advocate page), your damn right I'm going to get my hands on it. For the record, Knuckle Sandwich weighs in at 10% ABV, so this is some heayweight stuff. Let's take a look at the stats:

Really beautiful body, for starters. Burnt sienna in color and with a soft clearness that paints a silouhette of the background. An inch-thick head foams up to life before bubbling down to a soft, white layer resting on top of the beer. Fast-rising carbonation constantly supports it and keeps it from disappearing altogether, giving it a really well-rounded appearance. If this beer were a lady, it'd be like... Amy Adams or something. You'd just like to have a conversation with it... you know what? This is getting awkward, let's move on.

Oh yes, I do like this label, by the way. Knuck tattoos are always really cool in my book (NOTE: only in film and beer label context). Can you imagine how awesome Knuckles the Echidna would be if he had D-I-P-A tattoed across his knuckles?! I'd totally grab a beer with that red sunnavagun.

Look! He even has 4 knuc-. er... thorn... thingies? I'm confused.

Oh yes. Yes yes, a thousand times yes. Just an absolute flood of citrus hits the nose on the wave of hoppy madness.  Strong pine and floral tones in this one, maybe a bit of an earthy undertone. A sweeter undertone of malts add a third dimension to the scent that every good IIPA must have. Excellent stuff here, all-around. I have no jokes for this one.

Stinging carbonation at first almost hides the powerful combination of flavors. First go is a citrus bomb with a tropical twist – grapefruit and pineapple blend in with a floral underbody. The more I drink it, the more a slight booziness comes into play, which given the 10% ABV, is something that can be expected. It’s not until I swallow the damn thing that I taste the bready malts underneath. The result is a surprisingly good bittersweet aftertaste that lingers for a long, long time. Excellent use of simcoe hops here. There isn’t much about this one to complain about.

What's that tastebuds?

Oh. You mean "Ouch." Too bad, I'm still drinking this.

IIPAs are, frankly, tricky beers to do right. Which is odd, because most of the time, I like the doubles I try. This one follows that right along with that trend. Hopheads and IPA fiends will most definitely want to have a go-round with this brew. Get some sharp cheddar, grill a chicken, and go to town with this if you get a chance, because it’s just that excellent… Unless you don’t like hoppier, bitter beers. In that case, buying this would just be silly.



I do love the character of this brew, by the way. The citrus character is super-reminiscent of the west coast... this is very much and IPA area. Hell, "west coast IPA" is actually sort of a thing, they're so big. That's one of the cool things about beer - the can change from place to place just because of your surrounding environment. Who doesn't love that?

And for the record: yes, Orange County, you're part of the L.A. area no matter how hard you want to be your own thing... Bitches.

Haha, owned!

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