When you see the word "imperial" on a beer label, it usually indicates a brew that's a more extreme example of a particular standard. The same is true for "double," and this week we have a new trio that definitely offers more of everything. They hail from different regions--Stone (California), New Belgium (Colorado), Grand Teton (Idaho)--and are very different in taste and style. All three are bottled in a large format.
Grand Teton Tail Waggin Double White Ale, Cellar Reserve
This brew pours a hazy, light gold with a thin head and offers aromas of lemon grass with pleasant sour mash and a touch of spice. It's very smooth in the mouth, with soft but creamy malt flavors up front melding nicely with balanced spice and a nice hit of baked apple. Touches of lemon zest and white pepper come through on the finish. All in all, it is a refreshingly delicious brew.
New Belgium Lips of Faith Imperial Berliner Style Weisse Ale
Lips of Faith's aromas are reminiscent of an unbaked loaf of sourdough bread laced with soft lemon and cherry. It is light bodied, as you might expect for the style, with a bare hint of carbonation and just enough of the characteristic tartness to remind one of a Berliner weisse. All in all, it's an interesting effort that drinks better than the description implies.
Stone 14th Anniversary Imperial IPA
This beer has a golden pour with a thick head that settles slowly. The aromas are filled with heady citrus and hops, colored by green tea and sage. Stone does nothing halfway, and this brew, with its all-Brit ingredients, is no exception. The palate is aggressively delicious with ample peppery hops and a mix of earth, wood and mineral, all playing against smoky herb. Overall, it shows balance, but this one is not for the faint of heart.