Howe Sound Total Eclipse of the Hop IPA

I've never heard of Howe Sound before, but the delightful and knowledgeable folks at City Sliquors said that this is a good one, and I trust their judgement implicitly. I wish I could say that I know enough about beer to really distinguish an Imperial IPA from a regular IPA, but I just can't. Maybe I need to take some classes or help brew some beers.

The color is a murky maple wood brown with orange and red hints. The sticky, almost glue-like head is puffy and foamy and mouth-watering. The aroma only increases the watering of the mouth with hops and... yup, more hops. There is citrus in the background, but hops are front and center for this beer, and that is as it should be. I can't wait to try it... and I won't.

First sip is not the punch-in-the-gut that I expected. I really thought I was going to be dealing with straight hops and water, but this beer is much more tame than that. I wouldn't expect a very hoppy beer to be referred to as "mild," but I can't think of a better way to describe it. It's unexpectedly sweet and kind of relaxed. If I were to sip this beer the rest of the night, I suspect I would give it a really good review, but I have to give it the chance of really shining by drinking it properly.

Tip-in is expected carbonation burn, a bit of citrus, and not a whole lot else. There might be some sweet hops peeking through, but that might just be my imagination. The middle arrives - and I think that's the best way to describe it - with a hop taping at the back of the throat while carbonation fills the rest of the mouth. The finish evens things out with a sweet malt, but it doesn't do what it did in the sip - it doesn't effectively cover the bitterness of the hops. So, the hops just ride the tongue for a while, even after the beverage has been consumed.

Bottom Line: An excellent and refined example of an imperial IPA. Very hop, but not over the top.

4.25/5

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