beyond an India Pale Ale--I2PA is radically hopped with an intense aroma and
hop bitterness. Unfiltered and aged for 9 months before it leaves the
brewery--not for the faint of heart. I2PA is brewed with two-row Pipkin Pale
malts, Saaz, Cascade and Northwest Golding hops.
The above is how Rogue describes their I2PA, or Imperial Pale Ale as they
also call it. The description is very apropos, which is why I have included
it here. Because Imperial Pale Ale is one of the most intense IPAs you’ll
find out there. It is packed with hop flavor, hop aroma, and hop bitterness,
too. If you’re a hophead, this is definitely a beer for you.
For those who don’t already know the history of India Pale Ale, I’ll recount
it. Back in the nineteenth century when India was part of the British
Empire, pale ales were fortified with extra alcohol (through the use of
higher gravity wort in the brewing process) and extra hops for shipment to
India. These acted to preserve the beer during its long ocean voyage.
Some of the hop intensity would have mellowed a bit when the beer finally
arrived. Those beers definitely would not have been as hoppy or bitter as
Rogue’s Imperial Pale Ale is, even after its nine months of conditioning.
The hops used would have been different, too. But the idea is the same, and
the beer would have had more hop character than beers brewed for the home
Rogue’s Imperial Pale Ale has a formidable 74 International Bitterness Units
(IBU’s). That figure might not mean much with a point of reference for
comparison, so consider that Budweiser has about 12 (just over the amount
needed to be perceived). Pale ales usually have an IBU level somewhere in
the twenties or thirties (Sierra Nevada’s, for example, has 30). Keep in
mind that the bitterness is relative. The amount of malt used to make the
beer will impact how bitter it tastes.
So, 74 IBUs in Budweiser might not be drinkable. But in a heartier beer like
Imperial Pale Ale, some of it balances the malt. Still, there’s plenty left
over to wallop your tastes buds with hops, hops, and more hops.
Rogue Imperial Pale Ale pours to a deep orange amber color with a
towering head of rocky white foam and an intensely aromatic, peppery hop
nose. The nose itself is a sheer hop lover’s delight, and I think I could
easily just sit for some time sniffing and savoring the wonderfully spicy
aromas of Cascade hops. They literally invade your nostrils each time you
take a sip.
But the beer beckons, and so I sip. There’s a generous amount of chewy
caramel malt here, but it struggles to keep up with the hops. They attack
immediately: first as a grapefruit juice character that permeates the rich
mouthfeel. The grapefruit character segues in the finish to a very peppery,
intensely bitter and markedly citric hop finish. The bitterness will linger
on the tongue for some time.
Clearly not a beer for all palates, I2PA is a delicacy for the beer
enthusiast. It’s sold in single, 12-Ounce bottles rather than six-packs or
750ml bottles. It's also available on draft. With all those hops I2PA will
likely keep well over time, too, when stored properly. So you may want to
buy extra and sock a few bottles away for those unexpected hop cravings.
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.