Brewery: Shipyard Brewing
Style: Imperial IPA
Cost: $12.99 (24oz)
Temp: 55°F (or current temp in hell)
Purchased@: Some where in Maine, possibly purchased from the Devil
Barrel-Aged: 100 days
Quick Take: Clearly, some people must like this or it never would have been released and good for them, but this bruiser of a beer demonstrates why most IPAs shouldn’t be bourbon barrel-aged. If you want to try a successfully bourbon aged IPA, Founder’s Doom is pretty damn good and worth seeking out.
Brew Facts: The non-bourbon barrel-aged version of this beer, known as Pugsley’s Signature Series XXXX IPA, won several awards in 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012. I would highly recommend trying that version over this one, of any other beer that man or woman has ever created.
Appearance: The beer pours out a damn hazy, orange copper color. Fluffy white head bubbles up quickly and just as quickly is gone. No retention here. The unremarkable appearance is disappointing, but it has been a while since I’ve had a cloudy IPA. Hazy beer is hazy.
Aroma: “Oh my”, to quote George Takei. Dank, lemon zest and spicy pine sol dominates the initial smell. The citrusy hops and spicy bourbon reminds me more of an earthy tequila note rather than the usual wood and vanilla qualities that bourbon imparts on IPAs darker brethren, the stout. It’s malty with a briny dill/herb undertone. This is the aroma of a cheap, plastic-jugged tequila, not high quality bourbon. This does not bode well.
Taste/ Mouth Feel: The carbonation is a bit prickly, but pretty thin otherwise. This unimpressive mouth feel unfortunately follows along with the aroma and leads into a taste I’d rather forget. A bland malt, briny dill/lemon tang, and chemical hops quality that has no balance whatsoever. There is a heavy, slick bubble of alcohol that tramples all malt, yeast, and hops with the grace of a ten ton elephant. Insanely unbalanced and comes across like a novelty at best. The finish is an unpleasant mouthful of hot, spicy booze.
Final Thoughts: Here is how I imagine Shipyard’s XXXX IPA came about. They found a large plastic drum sitting along the side of a road and grabbed it for their barrel aging program. When they got it back, they discovered a hobo had crawled inside and died. With a shrug, in goes the IPA to age for 100 days with the corpse of a homeless man that deserved far better. Is this overstating the case? Possibly, but a restraining order to keep this beer 100 feet away from my taste buds is in the works. (Hint: I didn’t like it.) Clearly, some people must like this or it never would have been released and good for them, but this bruiser of a beer demonstrates why most IPAs shouldn’t be bourbon barrel-aged. If you want to try a successfully bourbon aged IPA, Founder’s Doom is pretty damn good and worth seeking out.
Note: In doing some research, I found a few reviews that had completely different experiences from what I had, describing a muted bourbon flavor with notes of vanilla and oak. There are also a couple that agree with my experience. It’s possible some of the bottles are contaminated and I had one of the bad ones. If you’ve had this beer before, please let me know if your experience is similar to mine or if I seem to be talking about a completely different beer.