Today I have a pair of hazy Imperial IPAs from opposite ends of the country.
And, up first, is a California brewery that’s quickly becoming one of the go-to places for IPAs in NorCal - Moonraker.
Auburn, California is nestled about 35 miles northeast of Sacramento and has one of the nation’s best up-and-coming breweries that you need to try – Moonraker Brewing.
Moonraker opened their doors in 2016 and looks to brew great beers all while trying “to find a way to minimize [their] carbon footprint”…doing things like using an electric boiler and 11,000 solar panels that let them operate their taproom, brew beer, and even bank extra power after all that!
In their first four years, they have already won three medals at the Great American Beer Fest – a silver in 2016 for their Miss Conduct (Golden or Blonde Ale), a silver in 2018 for Northern Lights (Imperial IPA), and their Suddenly A Saint won bronze last year in the Blonde Ale or Pale Ale Category.
As they’re known for their IPAs/hopped up brews, it only makes sense for me to try one of their hoppy offering, so when Tavour offered up a 16-ounce can of The Holy Hermit for $8 I jumped on it.
The Holy Hermit is a hazy Imperial IPA brewed with Amarillo and Citra hops. Each can has a bold 8.5% ABV and 70 IBU.
It poured a hazy orange/copper color with just over a finger of fluffy white foam building up. The pure white head fizzled down to a mere dusting rather quickly and laced the entire edge of the glass as it did so.
Juicy notes of citrus dominated the aroma. Pineapple and peaches lead the way with some orange, mango, and grapefruit rind hiding just below. There is also a bit of sweetness from a grain profile that seems to feature flaked oat and wheat. Underneath it all is a slight brut-like aroma, hinting it might end on the dry side.
My first sip begins with a rush of carbonation that fizzles across my tongue and delays the arrival of flavors for a brief moment.
Then, with a decent hoppy bite, there is a jolt of pineapple and a grapefruit peel bitterness that hit first. However, the other fruits quickly join in and eliminate that initial hop shock. Midway through orange, mango, and more of that pineapple slowly spread across my taste buds with a soft and expanding mouthfeel.
Towards the backend of the sip the hoppy bite once again makes an appearance and eliminates most of the sweet fruit flavors, replacing it with a more grapefruity bitterness and some very light pine. It’s got 70 IBU listed and, while there is certainly some bitterness from the hops, it’s still really palatable and easy to drink.
As I expected from the aroma, The Holy Hermit finishes quite dry. But, outside of the sticky dry feeling there is no lingering aftertaste.
It has a nice blend of East Coast juiciness and West Coast hoppiness that was crafted into a very drinkable DIPA. And that combination meant that this rather sessionable Imperial IPA went down smooth and fast – even with its 8.5% ABV. Good stuff here.
*canned 12/12/19, reviewed 1/22/20*
If you leave Moonraker Brewing and drive 2940 miles east, you’ll hit Worcester, Massachusetts (about 50 miles west of Boston) where you’ll find Greater Good Imperial Brewing Company.
Greater Good was founded in 2015 and is the country’s first all-imperial brewery, meaning all of their brews have an ABV of 8% or higher! However, they have introduced the “8 is the new 5” series, a line of brews with an 8% ABV that are just as sessionable and light as a beer with a 5% ABV.
Today I have one of those “8 is the new 5” brews – PULP Daddy, which is an extension of their PULP IPA.
PULP, which stands for Paul’s Ultimate Lupulin Protocol, is brewed with Citra and Mosaic hops and features a grain bill of Pilsner malt, flaked oats, and white wheat.
However, with PULP Daddy, they have increased the haze and added a second yeast to the brew. It has their standard 8% ABV and I was able to score a pair of 16-ounce cans for $5 each but, if you’re close to the source, you can probably find it cheaper.
Pulp Daddy poured a bright, slightly hazy, golden copper color. It was topped by a almost two fingers of pure white head that fizzled down to a thin lining around the glass rather quickly. As the foam disappeared, it laced the top of the glass nicely with distinct rings.
The aroma was pure tropical fruits and hops. Pineapple, tangerine, apricot, peach, and guava led the way with a tiny dank hoppiness sitting underneath. There’s also a hint of pink bubblegum and a grain profile of flaked oats and wheat.
Leading off my first sip was a minimal rush of carbonation that quickly breaks and allows the hops to start their flavorful assault. And, as the smell had foretold, it was a citrus juice bomb.
There are big notes of grapefruit rind, lemon zest, apricot, and acidic pineapple that sting my tongue with a bit of hoppy bitterness.
After a second or two, there is a huge burst of mango and apricot sweetness that washes over the bitterness and smooths everything out.
On the backend, the pithy citrus rind flavor appeared once again and brought some of the bitterness. There is also a mild oily resin that coats my tongue and just a hint of dryness.
Despite being 8%, this Imperial IPA hides the booze well and drinks much lighter than I would have thought.
Overall Pulp Daddy was a solid New England IPA. The only drawbacks being that almost continuous bitter twinge (it’s not as juicy as other hazy IPAs) and the very oily finish.
*canned 12/19/19, reviewed 1/23/20*