One of my most favorite styles of beer is the Imperial (or Double) India Pale Ale. It is definitely becoming one of the most popular styles among craft brewing and beer aficionados. Unlike some other styles such as a Russian Imperial Stout or other darker beer which are usually better fit to drink during the colder months, the Imperial IPA can be easily enjoyable year round. It has a crispness and typically a citrus fruitiness to refresh during the summer months, while at the same time, can have a deep malt profile and strength to invigorate you even during the winter months.
Double or Imperial India Pale Ales (DIPAs) are a strong, very hoppy style of pale beer that has an intense hop bitterness that reaches 60+ IBUs (International.Bitterness.Units), but often is closer to around 100 IBUs. The hop character is intense, yet it should be balanced with complex alcohol flavors, moderate to high fruity esters typically of citrus notes and a medium to high malt character. The style may use any variety of hops, though they should be fresh and lively, yet not harsh in quality. Double IPAs have an alcohol content above 7% by volume, though often are closer to the 10% range.
In my opinion, Beer Advocate describes the style best:
“Expect something robust, malty, alcoholic and with a hop profile that might rip your tongue out.”
**Many of the strongest Double IPAs could technically be alternately classified as an American Barleywine or a Triple IPA. As a relatively young style, it is still being determined. 100% more malt and 200% more hops is the basic guideline for a Triple IPA versus a normal IPA.**
Listed below are some of my personal favorites for the style:
A biting, bitter, tongue bruiser of an ale. With a name like Hopslam, what did you expect?
Dogfish Head Burton Baton
10% ABV / 70 IBUs
For Burton Baton we first brew two ‘threads’ or batches of beer: an English-style Old Ale and an Imperial IPA. After fementating the separate beers in our stainless tanks, the two are transferred and blended together in one of our large oak tanks. Burton Baton sits on the wood for about a month.
When enjoying the Burton Baton, you’ll find an awesome blend of the citrus notes from Northwestern hops melding with woody, vanilla notes from the oak. The wood also tends to mellow the 10% of the beer – so tread cautiously!
There are always new beers in the style being made and many I have yet to try, so by all means, this is not an exhaustive list. But if you can get access to some of these listed, I highly recommend giving them a try!