It was one of the few times that a Friday beer run had one main goal. I had one particular beer in mind and I knew the Four Seasons Beer Store had it. I spotted the candidate sitting on the shelf in the bomber section right next to its sibling from the same brewery.
Two weeks ago, I purchased and reviewed Firestone Walker’s robust porter. I had made mention of that at the recent MASH homebrew club meeting. My friend, Jeff, mentioned that he’d had their Double Jack double IPA. “Oh, man. That stuff is so good!” Scritch! A mental note was made. I remembered that the other FW beer sitting next to the porter was, in fact, Double Jack. That’s what I was looking for. Seasonal beers be damned, I was gonna have not only an IPA, but a Double IPA. I took Jeff’s word on it.
At the Four Seasons, I bee-lined it to the area where the last the FWs were seen. And there they were. Both the porter and the Jack stood side by side proudly displaying their labels. I grabbed the Jack and read the label. Not a lot there, just a few titled phrases. Double Jack. Double India Pale Ale. ALC. 9.5% BY VOL. 1 pint, 6 fluid ounces.
Regardless of the lack of information, I grabbed two bombers and had guilt pangs about paying so much for basically four glasses of craft beer. Four bucks a glass, if I drink it all. I thought of the state of my financial affairs, the further guilt I’d experience if I didn’t do this, the brew review, the site, the players, the fans… Screw it. I’ll worry about it later.
With the bombers clanking away in a paper bag on the floor in the back seat area, I made my way home and unloaded 44 ounces in two containers and placed them in the fridge. I warned my wife to not lay them on their sides if she needed room in the fridge. After all these years, I was used to her glare.
Luckily, Friday night’s work stint went without incident and Saturday dawned with another winter day, temps in the high 30s and slightly overcast skies. I thought I heard the Suzuki calling from out in the garage. Soon. But how soon is soon?
The evening came with pasta and great bread from a local restaurant and I was well on my way to laying down a good base for some rather high ABV liquid imbibement. When the time came for beer , my mouth was damn near watering at what I hoped I was in store for.
I grabbed the first bomber, popped the top and poured. Now was the time, there was no going back.
The beer poured with an orange color almost resembling Orange Crush. Moderate carbonation consisted of large bubbles rising under a 3/4” head of off-white foam. The aroma was rather strong and had all the markings of grapefruit. This might be a helluva ride.
The first sip was incredible. Lots of body in this beverage up front, then a wonderful sweetness almost like a nectar. Finally the swallow and the flavors of fruits came alive. Yes, there was grapefruit, but also detectable was a hint of orange and perhaps some nectarine and peach. Wow.
The snap of hops at the end was tolerable purely based on the sweetness that came before it. The malts are light and there are plenty of them in this beer. The beer feels hefty in the mouth. The whole entertainment of this beer lies in the swallow and the exhale. How wonderful. How odd. Fruit juice and this beer share many traits but the hops at the end send the taste up like a skyrocket with loud report.
The sweetness that pervades this golden concoction may be its downfall. I’m sure that there are some folks out there that can only take so much of it in spite of the raree show in the back. For my tastes, however, the sweetness is a surprise wrapped in an orange bow.
With each sip, the wonderful aroma greeted my nose. I didn’t know if that was just the way the beer was made or whether it was due to the funneling effect of the snifter glass I was using. Then again, I bet I’d get the same taste and aroma sensation if I drank this beer out of a cereal bowl.
Looking at the big picture, this beer is masterpiece of the right amount of ingredients blended together to get a kick-butt compilation of flavors. The viscosity of the liquid is at the forefront, the sweetness that pervades during the sip sets the mood and the slap of hops at the end will leave your uvula gasping for breath while asking for more. “Thank you, sir. May I have another?”
This beer had a complexity that’s beyond description. Sweet, malt, fruit, hops, the only thing missing is the two scoops of ice cream. A wonderfully delightful sipping beer great for any time of year, this FW DIPA will etch its flavors in your banks of memory. I think that if I tasted this beer way back when I wasn’t familiar with the IPA style… well, I don’t know what I’d think. The malts and the sweetness set this beer on the top rung. The hops clobber your throat with a baseball bat. Not that that’s a bad thing.
8 bucks may be a little steep for some wallets, but, believe me, try just one FW Double Jack. It will set you back on your haunches and give you a new appreciation for the IPA style of beer. The 9.5% ABV will do you good as well. I’d rate this in the top 3 IPAs that I’ve tasted somewhere with Bell’s Hopslam, and Three Floyds’ Dreadnaught.
Treat your senses to a good time. Double Jack will take you to the moon and back without you leaving your chair. Jeff was right. That stuff was so good!
Taste: A+ > A fruit-gasm in a glass.
Smoothness: A > Well-made, with a wallop.
Drinkability: A- up to a point. > The ABV and your good sense will determine how many.
Bang for the buck: A > Buy one. You’ll wish you bought two.
Wife’s all-encompassing opinion: (Sniff) OOh. Peachy. (sniff) (sip) It’s kinda drying. You get more peach from the smell than from the taste. (sip) More like an out of season peach. (sip) If it wasn’t so drying it wouldn’t be bad. (Some weeks she’s spot on. Other weeks she needs some massive taste tweaking. Or something.)
Firestone Walker Brewing Co.
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