Here we go again with the imperial beers. The trend these days is to boost the heck out of every beer on the planet, adding more malt, more hops, and bringing the alcohol content up through the roof. Sometimes this works, and sometimes it doesn't, but regardless it appears the trend is here to stay.
The latest example to fill my glass: Sweetwater Dank Tank Magnum I.P., an Imperial Pilsner (that's what the I.P. stands for) from Atlanta's Sweetwater Brewing Company. But, of course, the name is also a play on the old "Magnum PI" TV series, as you can see by looking at the casually decked out chap on the label.
Magnum I.P. is another installment in the Sweetwater Dank Tank series of one-off special brews, most likely inspired by the Terrapin Side Project series on the same idea. The beer is brewed with Pilsner, Munich, and Vienna malts and fermented with pilsner lager yeast. It's hopped with Cascades and Sterlings, though I really think they should have thrown in at least a few Magnums myself.
Sweetwater's Dank Tank Magnum IP Imperial Pilsner has a heady 9% alcohol content by volume and a very impressive 100 IBUs of bitterness. It was released in late June of 2010 and as I type in September there are still bottles floating around. This one should keep fairly well with all those hops and all that alcohol, so don't be afraid to pick it up even into 2011. I found it reasonably priced too at $6.99 for a 22-ounce bomber bottle.
Sweetwater Dank Tank Magnum I.P. pours to a cloudy whitish orange color with a very thick head formation of loosely packed foam. Once the beer warms a little, however, it takes on a clearer golden hue. The nose is a little rich, and hints at luscious fruit, mostly pineapple to my discernment. Palate is a bit thick here, but with lots of flavor. I get more of that fruity, sweet pineapple up front, then the hops take over. Very grassy, minty, flowery, and herbal, they permeate the brew and carry it right on into an explosive, mouth-puckering phenolic bitter finish. A pleasing alcohol warmth comes through in the finish as well.
Other than the hops, which remind me somewhat of Jever Pils on steroids, there isn't a lot about this beer to recall the pilsner style. I've never really been a fan of the idea that you can "imperial" everything, so as a pilsner (even an imperial one) this really doesn't work for me. That said, I really do like this one a lot hedonistically. The malt adds body but isn't as caramelly as you'd get in an IPA, making the beer unique. It's pretty darned drinkable, too.
The rich body and explosive hoppiness lend this beer to pairing with spicy foods, and I enjoyed a bottle with a meaty, blazing hot bowl of chili, heavily spiced with fresh jalapeno and Serrano peppers from my garden.
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.