Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Harpoon Leviathan Imperial IPA Review

Brewery: Harpoon Brewery | Beer: Leviathan Imperial IPA
Style: American Double India Pale Ale | ABV: 10.0% | IBUs: 122
Serving Method: 12 oz. bottle poured into tulip glass

Harpoon Leviathan Imperial IPAIt's been great seeing Harpoon's brews showing up on shelves here in Houston. Up until this point I've only tried their regular offerings—but now I've got my hands on one of their big Leviathan Series beers. Only dating back to 2008, the series is the home for the company's big beers and experimental fare.

Leviathan IPA is an American Double IPA. The backbone is built from pale and caramel malts, with the focus apparently on the pale variety. As for hops, Chinook, Centennial, Simcoe, and Amarillo varieties are employeed, and the beer is eventually dry-hopped with over one pound of unnamed hops per barrel. Here's Harpoon's almost Stone-like description of the beer:

Harpoon Leviathan Imperial IPA will challenge your senses and your palate. As the vibrant aroma rushes out of your glass you will notice the blend of piney and tropical fruit notes. At first sip, this big beer starts with a powerful hop bitterness up front and an aggressive hop flavor and character throughout.
I think I'm up to the challenge, so let's crack this bad boy open.

Appearance: A crystal-clear, rich copper body capped by a little over a finger of creamy, off-white head that features good retention and lacing.

Aroma: Pungent, piney, and citrusy hops over a sweet caramel base with lots of booze around the edges. Easily identifiable as a Double IPA from a mile away.

Taste: Up front, a blast of resiny and grapefruity hops that are not shy with the bitterness. Underneath, a caramel malt backbone keeps everything grounded well. That double digit alcohol content makes it's presence known, but is masked well enough to not drag the beer down. The aftertaste is thoroughly bitter and boozy with pineapple and caramel notes.

Mouthfeel: A creamy, slightly fuller than medium body with moderate carbonation and a dry finish. There's some nice burn in the throat and mouth from the alcohol.

Drinkability: With the big IBU and ABV ratings, this is about average for the style.

Verdict: Leviathan Imperial IPA is a very solid Double IPA that satisfies the itch for a big, biter, boozy beer. After trying some of Harpoon's more mainstream beers, I'm glad to see they can really step it up and deliver a high-end beer.

Grade: A-

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