This beer has been notoriously difficult for me to find, but I finally have a bottle of Jack's Abby's "Double IPL," Kiwi Rising! This big time hoppy beer boasts 105 IBUs and 8.5% ABV of pure India pale lager, a newly-arriving style of bitter, malty and robust beer capitalizing on the success of higher-gravity IPAs around the world, replacing the warm fermenting ale yeast with the more-complex and rounded taste that could only come from a cold-brewed lager. As a lager-only brewery, JA of course were destined to come out with a lagered version of the imperial IPA style; though many beer drinkers would snobbily claim a high gravity hoppy lager to be blasphemy, this proves them wrong single-handedly!
This beautiful, hazy beer pours a pale yellow with amazing, dense, rich head and soapy, consistent lacing completely covering the inside of the glass as the beer drinks. Slightly rocky suds seem to remain on top of the body as the brew calms down and the head seems to be extremely retentive. On the nose, I get extremely powerful hops of all varieties; there's some pine, some herbal and grassy notes, white pepper, a bit of grapefruit, orange, light pineapple and lemon and even some lightly floral notes pushing through the onslaught. There's also a very notable pale malt background that insists on making itself known even through the very hop-biased nature of the nose. Lastly, nutty and peppy yeast rounds out the scent with a bit of must and dankness as Jack's Abby beers are wont to have. On the tongue there is, at first, a prickly but even carbonation that makes way for an even, coating bitterness featuring highly-resinous, oily hops entangled with the deft and subtle yet undeniably present pale malt. I love that the carbonation is definitely there to support the malt and hop character instead of to eclipse it, and the higher-end alcohol serves to open up the palate to a wide array of very complex, astringent hop notes on display. Given the name of the beer and the label description, it is obvious that JA utilized New Zealand hops in this beer. I think the higher acidity hops are probably used here, and I don't get much of the fruity, dry, grape-like Nelson Sauvin character here, so I can only speculate that Super Alpha, Southern Cross and Pacific Jade are used.
Regardless of which hops are introduced in the four kettle and multiple dry-hop additions this beer boasts on the label, one thing is for certain; this is potent stuff. No child's play here; with a big flavor of biscuit-y malt, super resinous bitterness in the finish and a fairly noticeable alcohol heat right from the beginning, this is absolutely a sipper, but it also puts a lot of bigger IPAs to shame with the fresh, unique, well-rounded scent. Though there is a bit of an onion-like scent that seems to be typically attributed to certain kinds of hops, I find it fits with the rest of the profile here and blends with the other vegetal and herbal scents and tastes to provide a very wide spectrum of flavors. The dry and puckering finish on this is truly an example of how powerful hops can be, so don't seek this out unless you're a masterful hophead looking for your next big hit. Cheers!
The official breakdown:
- Style: Double / Imperial India Pale Lager
- ABV: 8.5%
- Appearance: Fairly pale yellow with amazing head retention and fantastic lacing. Very low clarity with slight wisps of yeast when roused
- Scent: Beautifully crafted and ripe with notes of citrus, pine, fresh-picked flowers, cut grass, menthol, tropical fruit and pungent herbs
- Taste: Punchy with a good balance of malt to hop; bready and biscuit-y pale grains combined with a punishing hop blast. Citric and resinous
- Mouthfeel: This is a very slick, drying beer that nevertheless drinks fairly smooth thanks to the lagering. Medium-heavy body and middling carbonation
- Drinkability: The most drinkable double IPA (er, L) I've had lately, JA once again crafts an amazing brew that stands up to many IPAs with aplomb