As the bitter days of winter settle in, there are times when you want an equally bitter beer in your glass, if only to prove you do not shirk from the onslaught of crueler elements. Either that, or you couldn't resist the picture of an angry rampaging elephant on the label. No judgement.
Beer Details: Rampage Imperial IPA from Black Diamond Brewing Company, Concord, CA (9% ABV, triple dry-hopped)
Appearance: A sunset orange beer, crystal clear, topped by a sticky head of lemony foam.
Aroma: Fresh summer apricots mixed with grapefruit, soft and fruity.
Taste: There's a huge wallop of citrusy hops upfront that rolls right into chewy biscuit malts toward the middle of the sip. It tastes simultaneously tangy and sweet, like fresh-squeezed orange juice. The sip finishes dry with a refreshing touch of grapefruit bitterness.
The effervescence seems to match the weightiness of this beer: just enough to lift the slick hop resins and syrupy malts, but not so much to scare them away. The alcohol adds a nice heat mid-palate and down the throat, and the hop flavors and aromas really open up as the beer warms.
Overall, I really enjoyed this imperial IPA. It packs a big hop punch, but with enough sweetness and nuance to keep my mouth happy down to the last drop.
Food Pairings: I'd love this with a big plate of mac n' cheese or a rich winter stew, something hearty and big-flavored to play against the beer's crisp flavors.
Related: Beer Labeling: What Does "Imperial" Mean?
(Image: Emma Christensen)