Review Date 11/23/2007
A long time ago in a galaxy not so far away, somebody named Fritz Maytag got the brilliant idea to adopt the English and German custom of making a special brew for the winter holidays. In England, it was Christmas Ale, in Germany, Weihnachtsbier; but Fritz decided to call his Our Special Ale. Three decades later, it seems everybody and his mother has a special beer for the holidays. Not just craft brewers, either, mind you, even the big guys the likes of Coors, Miller and Bud are in on the act.
Not to miss out, California’s Mendocino Brewing Company, famed for their legendary Red Tail Ale, brought forth a Winter Ale of their own. Each year it changed, varying from versions of their Yuletide Porter to other sumptuous brews. But for 2007, the company decided to release something special: an Imperial IPA.
Mendocino Winter Seasonal Imperial IPA pours to a bright coppery orange color with a light creamy white head and a spicy citric hoppy nose. In fact, the nose here simply screams bright and juicy hops, and if you think there’s a lot going on there, well, just wait until you take a sip. The beer has a nice enough amount of chewy caramel malt, of course; it has to stand up to all the hops. But, as one might expect in an Imperial IPA, the hops reign supreme, and they emerge quickly in all their citrusy orange and grapefruit glory. They add a delightful resiny pine character in the finish, and explode with a huge lingering dry hop bitterness. A bit of alcohol warmth comes through as well in this 7.5% by volume treat.
In a way, this one almost weighs in halfway between a big and hoppy American IPA and what brewers these days are calling an Imperial IPA. I think, though, that this one manages to be special without being so big that it just becomes a barleywine. Brownie points for that.
And so, I’ve had Imperial IPAs that were bigger and maybe even that I liked a bit better. But for a meager $5.99 a six-pack, none came as close to being the bargain that this beer is. Try it with a plate of spicy wings at your next holiday gathering for extraordinary holiday enjoyment.
Most highly recommended.
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.