Hoptimum is a double IPA at 10.4% ABV that’s bordering on “extreme”, especially when you consider that it’s a whole-cone hopped beer. Hopped, dry-hopped, AND torpedoed for an ultra-intense hop explosion. Not for the faint of heart, utilizing new hop varieties for a spectrum of flavors throughout every drink. Notes of melon, rose, lilac, cedar, mango, papaya, resin, and a spicy finish. Boozy but in a good way – it hits at the end of the hop cavalcade, leaving a mouth-puckering spicy finish that isn’t very sticky. Well balanced, as the brewers at Sierra Nevada always attempt to do with their beers. Malt is lurking beneath the hop-festival that was expected and delivered on.
Originally released to foreign countries (ie: not the US or the UK), Foreign Extra Stout from Guinness was well known to international travelers. I was able to enjoy a variant of this beer on a beach in Bermuda, but it was finally introduced (as a different recipe) to America in 2010. This recipe far surpasses the original variant that I sampled (which as it turns out is because the Bahamanian version’s brewed in the Bahamas itself). After its introduction in 2010, it’s been generally available year-round (but may not be always available in your market). 7.5% ABV and it packs more flavor in than normal “Guinness” does. It’s a Foreign Extra Stout, not an Irish Dry Stout (as Guinness Draught is). Some hops flavor, plenty of punch, chocolate-caramel-coffee flavors, and isn’t boozy. Finishes clean. Overall, an excellent beer and one you should probably consider as being way better than you’d think it is.
Lake Erie Monster is Great Lakes Brewing Co (GLBC)’s rotating Double IPA. Weighing in at a whopping 9.10% ABV and 80 IBU, this beer packs plenty of punch. Brewed with Simcoe and Williamette hops, they provide a muted presence for a DIPA. You’ll find that this is more of a caramel-malt forward balanced DIPA that happens to be highly drinkable as well. Usually released in the summer only – and not even every year, it’s always an event when this beer hits the market. Has a sweet flavor which is a bit surprising, especially as you’ll expect some sort of hop assault that never comes. Bitterness from the hops nicely counterbalances the sweet notes, creating a smooth mouthfeel that ends up being a bit sticky. Appearance is lovely as can be seen from the photograph. Head is excellent, long-lasting, and laces beautifully Recommended, but if you’re a hop-head, give this one a pass.