Beer Review 0254: Boulevard Double-Wide IPA

Yesterday, we reviewed Boulevard’s Single-Wide IPA, and rated this year-round offering 91 points, noting its great flavor and high drinkability. Today, we’re taking a look at Boulevard’s Imperial IPA, appropriately named Double-Wide.

Double-Wide is part of Boulevard’s “Smokestack Series” of beers, which is a group of beers that offer a little more experimentation beyond the normal, everyday offerings. Most of the Smokestack Series brews come in corked and caged 750 ml champagne bottles; Double-Wide is one of four beers that have become year-round, available in four-packs.

Boulevard’s Imperial IPA uses less hops than their single IPA, but the malt bill is larger. The hops: Bravo, Cascade, Centennial, Chinook, and CTZ. Malts: Amber, brown sugar, Cara 120, Cara 300, Dextrose, and Pale. Designated as a “traveler’s beer,” Double-Wide is brewed to 8.5% ABV (alcohol by volume) to withstand the occasional ocean voyage, to, say… the British East Indies. The IBUs (International Bitterness Units) are 71.

The pour produced a massive head — perhaps I went a bit too fast — it had a frothy, whipped texture to it, and was long lasting, even as it faded into just a pinky-thin cover atop the drink. The beer was orange-amber in color, with a hazy body that was free of particles and sediment. Lacing was very good, leaving behind thick cloud-like foamy patches as I enjoyed.

On the nose, as expected, was a strong hop presence, laced with tons of pine and citrus notes, particularly orange and grapefruit. There were some nice lemongrass aromas, as well as a punch of ripe apricot. Double-Wide features a solid malt backbone with plenty of sweet caramel and bready notes, and a touch of grain.

Tasting, this one starts out slow and timid, with a hit of orange and lemon, but it wakes up in the middle with a sharper fruity note and plenty of sweetness. A huge wave of caramel rode over the palate, which ushered in the moderately bitter finish that had a roasted malt twang to it. This brew is medium bodied with a soft carbonation, but it delivered a CO2 punch on swallowing, and the texture was creamy. As you drink, you start to notice a mild alcohol warmth.

Boulevard have made an excellent offering that manages to balance the bitter versus sweet very, very well. Neither dominates, and both senses seem to hit and just the right moments. However, while I feel this is an outstanding beer that I would return to, I’m looking for more hops in my Imperial IPA, and perhaps a bit more complexity, too.

Boulevard Double-Wide IPA, 94 points. Price: $2.99 US for one twelve ounce bottle.

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