Beer Review 0199: Founders Devil Dancer Triple IPA

Take one look at my ratings and you’ll see that I think very highly of just about every beer from Founders Brewing Company that I have tried. But I must voice a little static before trying this one.

Each July, Founders puts out a huge Imperial IPA called Devil Dancer — huge in the sense that this beer is 12% alcohol by volume, and will body slam your palate with 112 IBUs (International Bitterness Units). But they call this thing a “Triple IPA” … and that irks me. Maybe it’s because Americans like things bigger and better? It’s almost like Founders sees your silly Double (Imperial) IPA, says nanna-boo-boo, and calls theirs a Triple.

I digress.

Devil Dancer is dry-hopped for twenty-six days with a combination of ten varieties of hops, none of which Founders cares to talk about. This is such a big beer, the company says “When you dance with the Devil, the Devil don’t change. You do.

And if that doesn’t make you apprehensive about this beer, maybe the price will. I picked up a four-pack of this without looking at cost, and was shocked to find it rang up $18.99 at the register.

But it’s Founders, and I couldn’t resist trying it.

The pour produced a small but lasting head, atop a dark amber beer that had tints of both red and orange — very appropriate for a beer named “Devil Dancer.” The body was slightly cloudy, and is easily the most translucent Founders beer I have ever seen. Remember, Founders never filter their beers. And while a bit cloudy, this one has no particles or sediment present; neither did it have any significant lacing. But the alcohol legs glide down the glass when you swirl the drink.

I know I talk about “hop bombs” sometimes, and if there ever were one, this is it. A very heavy hop presence here, big notes of grapefruit, pine, and resin set a stage for more minor players like tropical fruit juice, orange, and a touch of cattiness. The aroma is very sticky and dank smelling, but it does feature an attempt at some balance with sweet caramel and even a hint of coffee. You can tell that not only are there an insane amount of hops here, but there’s an equally crazy amount of malt; especially when you think 12% ABV.

On the palate, prepare to have your head blown off your shoulders. This is a big, huge, beast of a beer — and it’s much more malty than you’d suspect. Right up front, I got a bit sweet caramel flavor, followed by a blast of hops that just kicked the door down. Grapefruit, orange, pine, tropical fruit… big, bold and ballsy. On the swallow, leading to the finish, there’s a massive alcohol burn that takes place in the nose, warms the head, throat, and belly as it works its way down. And the finish is long and very bitter, with delicate layers of grapefruit and tropical fruits (pineapple, mango) and even a sharp onion. Mouthfeel was thick and creamy, while the carbonation was soft.

Devil Dancer is a big and extreme beer that is dangerously drinkable. As Founders says, it’s truly like dancing with the devil… and the devil usually wins. I enjoyed this beer, but I also thought that maybe this beer is simply too big for its britches. I have a bottle of this left, and despite potential fading of the hops, I might try and age this one, and return six months from now to see what Father Time does to all this booze.

Another incredible offering from Founders — not only in flavor, but just that they made something this large and complex…

Founders Devil Dancer Triple IPA, 92 points. Price: $18.99 US for a four pack.

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