Have you ever heard that song “What I Am” by Edie Brickell and the new Bohemians? I have, and more than a few times. There are a number of hypotheses in the song, one of which posits that religion is a smile on a dog. I often think of that song when drinking a beer from Idaho’s Laughing Dog brewery; conversely, I also think of Laughing Dog beers when I hear the song. After all, if a smiling canine is religion, then what would that make a laughing dog? Probably one somehow related to beer, preferably something trappist.
Anyhow, today I’m sipping and typing at you about Laughing Dog Alpha Dog Imperial IPA. The bottle says this is an ale of strength 8.5% by volume, though the company website lists the beer at 8%. It’s the IBU content, though, that truly impresses: 126.8, nothing to sneeze at (unless you’re allergic to hops that is). And I guess they just had to get that extra .8 in there, didn’t they?
Laughing Dog says of this beer:
A True Hop Bomb Brewed (SIC) plenty of Columbus and Mt Hood Hops for a Piney hop character. Premium Pale, Honey and Munich Malt make this beer a little less malty but packing plenty of hop punch.
I got a bottle at Total Wine for $6.99 and aged it for almost two years. I think it has certainly mellowed in the way it is hoppy, but the hops are still the predominant feature of the beer. Let’s see how it tastes, shall we?
Laughing Dog Alpha Dog Imperial IPA pours to a bright orange amber color with a towering head of rocky foam and a decidedly citrusy-resiny hop nose. Taking a sip, I found this to be a very tasty Imperial IPA that nicely accentuates both malt and hop.
The thick chewy caramel malt is first up front, then tons of hops arrive; they're herbal (I get oregano in the nose and palate), citrusy, resiny. Becoming aggressively bitter in the finish with a floral "gout d'Orval" aroma, they seem to have mellowed only slightly with age. For a style that seems formulaic at times, this one is a bit different. The beer has a very heavy Brussels lacing that clinsg to the sides of the glass and follows the liquid stubbornly all the way to the bottom of the glass.
Very aromatic hops define this beer and set it apart, I think, at least at this age. The aging probably allows the malt to come through a bit more too. I will have to try a younger bottle just for comparison purposes, but don’t be afraid to age this beer even longer than two years. It should hold up nicely indeed.
And remember, try a new beer today, and drink outside the box.
*Pricing data accurate at time of review or latest update. For reference only, based on actual price paid by reviewer.