For a long time, I had a love/hate relationship with IPAs. They were too bitter, too strong tasting, too hoppy. Now I feel like I could go the rest of my life never drinking anything else. So when I saw a new Sam Adams Double IPA, (Third Voyage) I ran and grabbed my specially designed, high tech Sam Adams guzzlin’ glass and filled it to the brim with hoppy.
And I’m underwhelmed. I’m never happy with an ordinary IPA. I want to be sandblasted with flavor. I want to have trouble finishing the whole glass because the flavor is punching me in the uvula with a ferocity that could only be equaled by Jake LaMotta roid ragin’. I want my taste buds to be knocked out so hard that the only thing they’ll be able to handle is watered down PBR.
The problem with Third Voyage is that it’s too….nice. There’s no bold flavor at the front and there’s no bold flavor at the back. It’s smooth, almost downright mellow and it’s ticking me off. It hits all the right notes, but not with the right intensity. It has a sharp bark, but no bite. It has that bitter finisher, but not that throat puckering grab that some IPAs have.
It’s a perfectly good Double IPA, sweet and grapey and strong, but it’s just not the IPA for me. I recommend it if you’re not into ultra-hoppy IPAs like Harpoon’s Rye Ipa.
I give it half a hop and a skip.
There are two big breweries based in Boston proper; Samuel Adams and Harpoon. The Sam Adam brewery is only for small batches and experimental brews, while the Harpoon brewery is in full production.
I’ve taken tours of both facilities and while I was initially a bigger fan of the Sam Adams tour, I’ve started to lean more toward Harpoon. Their tasting portion is much more extensive; you have fifteen minutes to try any of the 7 or so beers they have on tap, as opposed to the three beers that Sam Adams gives you.
This is how I first came across the Leviathan Imperial IPA, in room surrounded by Harpoon merchandise and the Harpoon staff after imbibing six or seven tiny glasses of beer. I loved it.
But I decided to subject it to a more objective judgement. I bought a four-pack of them and poured them into my Harpoon-brand tulip glass. It smells intensely like an IPA; that hoppy, sweet smell that you either love or hate. The first sip and your taste buds are taking a brutal bitter beating. The Leviathan Imperial IPA is one of the more complex and well-rounded IPAs I’ve ever had. A lot of IPAs can leave you gagging on that signature bitterness long after you’ve finished the beer.
This one cuts it short, most likely through wizard magic, and the aftertaste is surprisingly minimal considering the hearty strength of the initial flavor. Out of the many IPA’s I’ve had over the last few years, this is one of the best, even though I still can’t claim to be an expert. It has a color that would put an amber ale to shame. Its flavor is complex and layered without being overpowering. And it packs a punch with the alcohol.
In short, if you can get it, you should.
I give it Two Bakers Chocolates and One Cup of My Coffee.
Emily and I walked passed our local alcohol shop when we saw that they were hosting a beer tasting. Since I don’t turn down free alcohol (EVER), we went inside. The brewery was Berkshire Brewing Co., a local brewery that has a fairly wide selection to choose from (including one that tastes like coffee). I grabbed their Saint of Circumstances IPA, as well as their coffee thing (which I’ll definitely be reviewing later).
Saint of Circumstances is not their regular IPA. The guy running the tasting told us that, due to a fire, they got the wrong shipment of hops. As a result, they ended up brewing a completely different IPA of which they have only a limited quantity and that they’ll never be able to recreate since they don’t know which hops they were shipped.
The moment I heard that it was of LIMITED QUANTITY and soon it would be GONE FOREVER, I had to have it, because I have no willpower when it comes to marketing. As far as rare, soon-to-be-extinct IPAs go, I think this might be one of my favorites. Unlike some recent IPAs I’ve had, it’s not overwhelmingly bitter. It still has some bite, but just enough to make it interesting.
It’s smooth and light with a good clean finish. I didn’t taste the smokiness that the bottle talks about, but there is that vague flavor of grapes that IPA all seem to have in common. I recommend it if you happen to be in the area and have a chance to actually try it. And if you like IPAs. Or beer in general I guess.
Additional: Also, awesome name.