4 Pines Keller Door Imperial IPA

Total Score: 7.35/10 Malt1Pineapple1HopFlower1Tulipglass1

After the featherweight 4 Pines Indian Summer Pale Ale this 9% ABV 84 IBU 4 Pines Keller Door Imperial IPA is going to be like getting a sandwich carefully crafted for you by Mike Tyson… that is a knuckle sandwich. As I’m mentally preparing myself for the giddying high one gets from hops and alcohol combined en masse it occurs to me that this will be the biggest beer I’ve had since Jan 2016, and it’s already March – wow! [cracks fingers and neck] OK I’m going in – Brewronimo!

Poured from a 500ml bottle into a Duvel tulip.

A: Presents with a clear perfect amber body and a chunky 2 cm off-white head that retains well – a complete 180 on the Indian Summer Pale Ale – if I were to choose between the two beers based on looks this one would definitely take the win. 8/10.

S: Pineapple chunks in pineapple syrup with a light pineapple glaze on top. You get what I mean – this is a pineapple lovers wet dream. Heaps of sugary malt and other notes – piney, light cannabis herbal hop characters as well. Overall the aroma is heady and sounds a giant klaxon with a Tannoy message playing out “Warning: Prepare for sticky/gooey pineapple!” Love it. 9/10.

T: Flavour is an all-malt sugar assault on the senses, with some hops thrown in. Soooo much sugar! I’m actually booking in an appointment with my dentist right now. What about all that pineapple? It’s there, in an advisory capacity to the malt, but really sweet sugary malt is the chief of staff with this brew. So let’s recap the flavours: Malt upfront, pineapple/herbal/piney hops centre and finishes with a light (for IPA standards) hop bitterness. Aftertaste is like some sort of odd hop honey. What is missing? Balance between malt/hops of course, duh. 7/10.

M: Medium bodied, some hop oiliness is present, with a borderline flat carbonation. 8/10.

D: I bet you $1 billion (which I don’t actually have) that this has NZ hops in it – because the hop aroma is fantastic but the flavour is malt dominated – as I’ve found with the biggest hop brews coming out of NZ. Which is a shame because everything else is great and it doesn’t nearly feel as weighty as other 9% brews can be (i.e. the alcohol hides well here) and I do quite enjoy 4 Pines Keller releases (in fact I believe most of these brews should be made year-round), however there is simply too much sugar happening in this ale as it stands and I cannot afford to become another blip on the rapidly growing western-world diabetes statistics. 6/10.

Food match: Turkey stuffed with Insulin and a side of mash with gravy.

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Epic Hop Zombie DIPA

Total Score: 8.1/10 Caramel1 PapayaMango1 HopFlower1Tulipglass1

From the mighty Aotearoa comes the equally mighty Epic Hop Zombie DIPA, which is overall the highest rated NZ brew I could get my tasting mits on. The $12 question is: Will it beat Tuatara’s mighty Double Trouble DIPA? You might(y) find out soon enough! So what is a DIPA you ask? DIPA stands for Double Imperial Pale Ale – a style born in the US of A that is similar to an India Pale Ale (that is a Pale Ale with higher gravity, i.e. alcohol, that was developed in the UK to survive a long sea voyage to the British troops in India), however it generally contains an even bigger hop presence. The “Imperial” is borrowed from Russian Imperial Stouts, which were indeed the drink of choice for Czars, hence DIPA… Confused? You should be.

Poured from a 500ml bottle into a Duvel tulip.

A: Clear (Really?! Filtered craft beer!?) golden bodied with a thin white lace ring. Not the most impressive of starts, you all know my dislike of filtered brews (Yeast is good, let’s leave it alone people!). 6/10.

S: Whoa! Quite a bouquet of tropical fruits (papaya, mango, passionfruit and jackfruit) with pine resin notes on a bed of bread and biscuit malt. Smells like one of the tastiest DIPA’s my nose has ever had the pleasure of inhaling, as they would say in Kiwiland “Choice bro!”. 10/10.

T: And then prepare to be surprised again – it’s almost sugar-bomb sweet with caramel/biscuit/toffee malts all over the place, a bit deceptive as by the aroma you would expect a full-on hop affair. The hops are indeed there (how could they not be?) however they have less a hold on the flavour than the aroma, and it seems there’s less tropical fruit on the table when you finally get to “dig in”. The finish is bitter with notes of the above of pine/tropical hops. 8/10.

M: Medium bodied, oily with hop resin, with a light (almost flat) carbonation. 6/10.

D: Mine’s a dud, or this is how it’s meant to be, either way the hops are all bark (nose) no bite (taste) and I’m struggling to reconcile this with the all-powerful and juicy Tuatara Double Trouble DIPA (which really takes a big smelly [hop smelly] dump all over this brew). I was so hoping this would be better than the Trouble2 as Tuatara’s drop is a limited release and this is a rotating brew… I’ll have to buy as much Tuatara as I can carry. Tuatara = 1 : Epic = 0 so far. 8/10.

Food match: I would have suggested brains if this Hop Zombie had lived up to its eponym, however I am more inclined to suggest not-brains or Italian cuisine.

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