Triple IPA Taste Test
Last week I talked about the many sub-styles within the IPA beer style: traditional IPA, Double, Triple, Imperial, Tropical, Black, West Coast, New England, Milkshake, Brut, and Sour IPA.
This week, I’m going to share the taste test I did with two Triple IPA’s last weekend, each one excellent and each one vastly different from the other.
As I referenced last week, Triple IPA’s are similar to Double IPA’s with the biggest difference being the bump up in alcohol by volume; ABV. And many brewers don’t even differentiate between Double and Triples IPA’s and simply call these beers Imperial IPA’s. Regardless of the name, these more heavily hopped IPA’s provide flavor and aroma profiles that can’t be achieved in a traditional IPA.
The two Triple IPA’s I tasted side-by-side were Third Twin from 2SP Brewing in Aston, Pennsylvania and Hoptimum from Sierra Nevada Brewing in Chico, California and Mills River, North Carolina. I grabbed two 14 ounce snifters and poured each beer high and hard—a practice I began about 20 years ago. Pouring high and hard allows the beer to crash into the glass, releasing large amounts of carbonation and making the beer softer and smoother, revealing the best parts of the beer’s aroma and flavor. 2SP Brewing’s Third Twin was in a 16 ounce can and Sierra Nevada’s Hoptimum was in a 12 ounce bottle. The ABVs on each of these are typical of Triple IPA’s with Third Twin coming in at 9.3% and Hoptimum at 10.6%.
After the head on each beer had settled, I was looking at one beer—Sierra Nevada’s Hoptimum—with a clear, rich amber color, and another beer—2SP Brewing’s Third Twin—with a hazy, yellow hue. I took in a small tasting of each, one after the other in one mouthful, to neutralize my palate for the actual side-by-side tastings.
I then tasted Hoptimum. As I raised the glass, my nose picked up bready notes with pine mixed in and a hint of alcohol. Remember this one is 10.6% ABV. As I took in my first drink, the bitterness typical of an IPA hit my tongue but the malts were very present. There was a sharpness to its flavor profile from the high alcohol and the beer had a boozy mouthfeel. That booziness left the finish on the swallow with a not-unpleasant burning sensation. I’ve had Hoptimum many times and the 2020 version was very consistent with other years.
Now it was time for Third Twin. This was a new discovery for me having picked up my first 4-pack about three weeks ago. When I lifted the snifter to my nose, I immediately picked up citrus aromas that were more orange than grapefruit—a nice surprise—along with floral notes. As I drank in about an ounce of this beer, I was struck my its softness and very little bitterness. The citrus aromas in the nose are beautifully present on the tongue and the beer has a subtle but welcome sweetness. The finish is soft, smooth and absolutely delicious!
These are two really good Triple IPAs. Choose one for the weekend and celebrate life!
The Craft Beer Guy