Through all 22 ounces of Hoppy Man, an imperial IPA from Twisted Pine Brewing Co. of Boulder, we had trouble making up our minds.
Was this the most subtle version of an imperial IPA possible, aimed at beginning drinkers looking for a mild adventure? Or did the brewery simply miss the mark?
First, despite the marketing about the hops, we should point out that it's not difficult to find many, many brews with more of that wonderful flower power inside.
Second, this is a far cry from the 16th Anniversary Wood-Aged Double IPA from Great Divide Brewing Co. we wrote about recently. The bold flavors that beer brought forth throughout each sip were impressive, and had just enough of a light touch not to be overpowering.
The Hoppy Man, by contrast, was noticeably more timid. The sips were too often dominated by malty, boozy flavors, with some meek bitterness trying and failing to elbow its way to the front. There also was very little carbonation in the beer, hurting the crispness we presume everyone likes to find in an IPA.
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That's not to say this beer didn't deserve an IPA billing. It was bitter, no doubt, particularly after a few quick gulps. And we often praise bitter brews that avoid acidity and go down smoothly. This one qualifies.
But anytime the presumably hop-driven bitter flavors in an imperial IPA can be confused with yeast byproducts (at times the malty-boozy-bitter flavors seemed to combine for a Belgian-like feel) or even the sting of abundant booze (at 10.5 percent), something is out of balance. That may be what we have here, with what is still a good, if not great, beer.
Granted, the bottle did say "Please Keep Refrigerated," and we didn't. Having hosted a party, we removed it from the fridge to keep the guests out of the good stuff and didn't remember to chill it again for about a week. But surely that wouldn't cause irreparable harm?