Today I have a very interesting beer that I received from my friend Peter at Simplybeer.com. Peter and I like to trade beers from time to time and get a flavor of something different that we each can’t normally get in or local areas. Elliot Brew (AKA Struise Mikkeller) from De Struise Brouwers Basically this is an Double IPA, brewed in Belgium. Now I know here in America many brewery’s are brewing Belgian style ales, but I have not heard of much of the opposite happening. Now, before you get down on me about calling this an American Style, and not just an Imperial IPA I am referring to it as such because the double IPA style did start here in America. However, which judging the style, any variety of hops can be used. So you cannot ding it for not having that “traditional” American hop flavor. But I do like to call it an American Double IPA style because of where it originated from, not for the ingredients used.
Aroma: Some sweet taffy-like candy aroma, along with grassy and floral hop aroma are the dominant aromas. It sort of reminds me of what it may smell like on a summer day sitting outside of taffy shop. There is definitely some hop presence, but not as much as I would have thought, but there is a lot going on that helps blend everything together. You have some boozy schnapps aroma in there when you dig deep. Just off the aroma alone I am expecting a nice hoppy beer, but a lot of sweetness. (9 Points)
Appearance: A hazy and creamy looking light amber, with a ton of head. Even pouring it fairly gently, produced a lot of head. For a higher alcohol beer, this head lasted a long time too. (3 points)
Flavor: Here is where all the complexity lays in this beer. I have some sweet and sticky taffy, not toffee, but a sweet and fruity taffy-like flavor. There is some doughy bread, and a slight toasty flavor as well. The hop flavor is wet and grassy, with some juicy orange citrus highlights. I don’t know these are American varieties or not, but I am getting some woodiness, so I suspect there is some English varieties in there somewhere. Alcohol is quite evident, and even though this bottle has aged a bit, seems a bit on the hot side for me. The beer seems a bit sweet, but don’t get me wrong, it is far from cloying. I can easily drink this. The combination of the alcohol, stiff hop bitterness, and use of sugar as an adjunct help to dry it out somewhat. Just don’t expect this to be a bone dry, easy to slam beer. Not that you would want to, but you get the idea. There is a resinous sticky bitterness that lingers long into the finish, and this battles any sweetness that is also lingering. You can literally feel the battle if you pay close attention. (15 Points)
Mouthfeel: For as big as this beer, the mouthfeel is not super heavy and chewy, but it is fairly full. It is just beyond the medium range. The high level of carbonation give the impression of a lighter feel, but if you let it sit in your mouth for a few seconds you can get a real feel for the viscosity of the beer. (4 points)
Overall: This beer has been getting super high marks, but for me it is just above average. Maybe I have a bottle that didn’t travel well, maybe I let it sit too long, or maybe too many people fall into the “If it’s from Belgium it has to be the best beer ever” craze. I can’t really say, all I can do is evaluate the beer in front of me as I see it. It is a huge IPA, with some great attributes, but for me seems to be lacking in the hop depth. I am sure there are a lot of hops in there, they do come through a bit in such a huge beer, but for me not enough for a world class double IPA. The bitterness is there, but the flavor perspective and fairly low aroma give it a few dings. But on the high side, it is a very tasty beer and I love seeing an American style coming from overseas, from Belgium in particular. The fruity bit I get, I suspect is from the candy sugar, which is also an interesting twist. But in the end, for a Double American style IPA, it is just very good to me. (7 points)
Total points I score this beer is 38 or about a B-.