8% ABV from a growler
Necessity is the mother of all invention. Especially when it comes to getting drunk. No, I’m not talking about taking the only three items left in your fridge (soy sauce, Jagermeister, root beer) and inventing a new cocktail (The MSGager Barq Bomb*), I’m talking about something completely different. Whether prison wine, moonshine during prohibition, or a bottle of Scope when your children are so concerned about daddy that they’ve poured his bourbon down the drain (damn you brats!), humans have always found a way to get drunk under the most tricky of circumstances. Take the India Pale Ale, the IPA, for one. I think a lot of amateur drinkers are scared by the exotic, “foreign” name of it. I know I used to be. But you shouldn’t fret. IPAs are a delicious form of incredibly hopped and alcoholic beer. A splendid combo. And, they have nothing to do with curry, tiki masala, or Ghandi.
The name comes from back in the 18th century when the British were faced with a terrible conundrum: how to keep beer fresh on long shipping voyages. Specifically, how could the British East India Company keep their beloved porters and ales from spoiling during the months-long journeys to India where relocated British expats and soldiers demanded fresh beer. Due to the extreme conditions of shipping, beers were arriving flat and sour. Thus, a solution was needed and it came in the form of most certain genius George Hodgson. He figured out that if tons of hops and alcohol were added to beer, an unfriendly environment would be created that was adept at fending off microbes and bacteria and thus spoilage. These beers were able to store for lengthy periods without going bad. And they tasted fucking delicious too.
Even sweeter, since us Americans rightly think anything bigger is better, we decided to up the ante and create double IPAs which typically have 50% more malt and 100% more hops. We’ve essentially created something overpowering out of something that was already created to be overpowering. Awesome. Like adding bacon to a double-cheeseburger. The double IPA is definitely one of my favorite styles of beer.
Thus, upon my trip up to the Captain Lawrence brewery to snag the rare Cuvee de Castleton bottles, I brought along my empty growler, and, when faced with the seemingly difficult decision of what to fill it with, there was no struggle–I knew I would be honored to try their DIPA for the first time.
I could barely contain myself and wanted to start slugging from the growler on the train ride back. I didn’t though and waited til I was safely in my apartment. A brilliant smell hit me the second I unscrewed the growler’s cap. And, once poured into a glass the fragrance truly came to life. Unbelievably hoppy, woody, and floral. The girl I was with–no, not a prostitute–thought it smelled like a fresh sack of high-end weed, and she was kinda right. But don’t consider that a negative. The taste was amazing. Tons of hops, with lots of citrus flavors, and a nice little amount of sweetness. So damn tasty I wanted to tilt the growler back and just chug from it as if I was some sort of high-brow frat boy. And, indeed, this is one highly drinkable DIPA as the alcohol is quite masked, you don’t really feel it until it hits the back of your throat, massaging your mouth for quite a while after each sip.
I suppose there’s nothing truly unique or unconventional about this beer, which is kinda strange since Captain Lawrence is known for their unconventionality. But it’s hard to lodge such a petty complaint when this is such a quality brew. A pretty flawless IPA, maybe the best east coast version I’ve ever had. I really have nothing to criticize about it other than to say I really wish Captain Lawrence bottled their beers so I could have this in my home at all times.
*© ® ™ The Vice Blog 2008 patent pending