Everybody clamors about Parabola. The masses murmur over Abacus. But since I live in a smaller market, I wanna talk about one of their more widely available beers: Double Jack. However, I won’t really have much to talk about since I’ve never had a Firestone Walker beer before. Looks like the only way I’m going to be able to speak on this is to get pryin’. Let’s pour!
Aroma 11/12: This is not what I expected at all from a DIPA when I first opened the bottle! At the start the aroma was a rather striking partnership of honey and hops. Quickly thereafter, a strong, sweet aroma appeared and presided over a wide variety of hop characteristics. The sweet note was dominant at first and reminded me of tangerines and mangoes. It tinged all the other characteristics in interesting ways. It brought out the sweetness of the grapefruit, it made the beer as a whole seem brighter, and it really covered up a lot of the pine. After a while this odd, yet not unpleasant, sweetness subsides and let some more traditional aromas take over – plenty of biting grapefruit and pine. After a brief warming, a light grass note speaks up along with a subtle mustiness.
Appearance 3/3: The beer is surprisingly clear and bright for the style. The change is appealing and the color is all orange peels, golds, ambers, and if rust had a pastel shade, this would be it. The head is slow to form and provides a neat visual trick to watch it slowly struggle to the top of the tulip glass. The head is ample in size, moderate in longevity, and leaves tons of sticky lacing.
Flavor 20/20: What a great start to a beer! The beginning is loaded with a very smooth, delicious caramel malt. Thankfully, that is not lost when the beer transitions to the backbone. In fact, I wouldn’t say the beer changes like most others do, rather it keeps adding flavors on top of the existing ones. So that delicious sweetness? Now, it begins to be balanced out by the grapefuit, a moderate resin-based bitterness, and combined with a brighter honey-like sweetness. The darker sweetness of the caramel and the resin are a flattering combination. This is really a treat! The citrus and honey of course combine on the palate and remind one of orange blossom honey, however this is not a dominant flavor. It’s one of the many, distinct, balanced flavors in this wonderfully layered beer. The finish is the only time the beer hints at its 9.5% ABV and even then it’s not readily apparent. It also yields a darker, more concentrated, intense bitter than has been previously shown, but other than those two additions, it’s really an extension of the backbone. Also, if anyone figures out how a beer dries the tongue, but remains a bit slick in the back of the throat let me know. Shouldn’t one or the other take over?
Mouthfeel 4/5: This is about as much carbonation as is appropriate. By being plentiful, but not overly aggressive, it really bridges the dual characteristics of the bright color/aroma and darker sweetness/heavier mouthfeel. This does leave the mouth slick at times.
Overall Impression 10/10: This is a most impressive beer! It doesn’t follow the typical DIPA recipe and comes out ahead for it. All the technical prowess is there, but it provides a sweeter, yet still balanced, version of the style.
Total 48/50: Normally, I’m happy if a DIPA doesn’t try to beat my tongue to death with hops. Anyone can pull that off. It takes talent and prowess to pull off a balanced version of the style and Firestone Walker succeeds with flying colors. Not only does it provide that much sought after balance, but it also refuses to play the same ol’ song and gives the craft beer world some much needed variety in a style whose popularity continues to soar. This is anything but the “usual” flavor and aroma and it’s damn good. Even my wife likes it and she is not the biggest fan of IPAs, let alone DIPAs. Caramel, orange citrus, honey, a gradually evolving bitter, grapefruit, and a pleasant mouthfeel all make for an excellent, tasty beer and ensure that my first Firestone Walker will definitely not be my last. Prost!
Joel R. Kolander is the Cheif Blogger for Sud Savant, a beer-savoring blog for the rest of us. We’re not here to get plowed. We’re not here because we are world-famous beer critics. We’re here because we enjoy savoring a great beer with even better friends. Sharing great beer is just as amazing as finding it in the first place. Lets share!