Welcome back masters of malt, guzzlers of Gueuze, sippers of Stout, to another installment of Tap Trail reviews. As much fun as it’s been getting down on some spectacular beers from all over the land, we wanted to take another look back at the wonderful homegrown scene we’ve got here in Bellingham and on the Tap Trail. Over the next few installments, we’ll be reviewing beers exclusively brewed on the Trail, from Kulshan, Wander, Structures, etc…
This week we’re starting with a classic with a bit of a twist. Boundary Bay has been entrenched in the local beer scene for quite some time, however just this year they have released their hoppiest beer ever, and that is what we are going to get down on today! Brewed with over 85 pounds of hops per batch, this is far and away the most assertive and aggressive vintage of Imperial IPA to come out of Boundary.
Brewery — Boundary Bay / Railroad, Bellingham, WA
Beer — Imperial IPA 2016
ABV / IBU — 9.5% / 100+
Price — $6 / 10.5 oz pour
Availability — Limited / Seasonal
Appearance (3/3) — This behemoth pours with a deep coppery hue to it, a slowly rising and forming off-white colored head sits on top and crests over the top of the glass in a rather nice looking capsule of foam.
Aroma (9/12) — A wallop of zesty and spicy hop aromas fill the air immediately, a large dose of pine, citrus, lemon, and earth, this is almost like tree bark covered in sap and pine needles. A little bit of sweet caramel malts come through and help round the hop assault out, not sweet, just balanced and pungent.
Flavor (16/20) — A wonderful punch of hops straight to the face. The palate is greeted with a robust piney, earthy, dank melange of hoppy goodness. Layers of botanic and pithy hop flavors, a chewy citrus rind character balanced with some pine needles and tree bark. All of this balanced with a slightly sweet, caramel and toffee malt character, quite sticky and robust, but not overly so, really nice composition here.
Mouthfeel (4/5) — Rich and warming, a hint of alcohol potency as it warms you with each sip. A real sticky and lingering finish as well. A touch of bitterness on the back end but this shows a nice level of restraint and balance again here.
Overall (8/10) — A nice classic example of the Imperial IPA style, showcasing aggressive and assertive piney hop character balanced with a solid and sweet toffee and caramel malt base. This is sticky, piney, resinous, sweet, dank, delicious. It’s a shame it comes and goes so quickly. Nicely done this year, nicely done indeed.
TOTAL — 40/50 — EXCELLENT
Until next time, enjoy the Tap Trail, drink well, and here’s to spring time!