Beer Review 0266: Foothills Seeing Double IPA

Foothills Brewing is my local brewpub, located in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. You may know them for their Russian Imperial Stout, named Sexual Chocolate, which seems to be a highly-sought after brew that is released in limited form each February. I reviewed it earlier this year and gave it 94 points.

Foothills started brewing in 2004; now, nearly ten years later, brewmaster Jamie Bartholomaus is seeing his creations go into bottles more and more. The brewery recently opened up a production facility across town, and this beer, Seeing Double IPA, their first high gravity brew, expands the number of bomber bottles they regularly offer to four. And, coming soon, Foothills will be filling six-pack 12 oz. bottles as well.

Seeing Double comes in at 9.5% ABV (alcohol by volume), and a whopping 126 IBUs (International Bitterness Units). We’re not even sure the human palate can detect that much bitterness, but whatever!

The pour from this bomber bottle issued up a beautiful, classic looking Imperial IPA, bright golden-orange in color, topped by a small, soapy head that lasted. The body of the beer was slightly hazy, but the liquid was free of particles and sediment. The lacing was excellent, leaving behind thin but creamy sheets of suds, and with the 9.5% ABV, there were plenty of alcohol legs.

The nose was surprising in the fact that there isn’t really much here to take in — there were touches of mild grapefruit and some general citrus, along with a grassy hop and some pine. Balance was at work with an even malt backbone of sweet caramel, and bready/biscuit scents. Honestly, the more I thought about this aroma, the more I came to the conclusion that something in this beer smelled very similar to A1 brand steak sauce. I even went to my fridge and pulled out a bottle of the steak sauce to compare, and sure enough… that’s not saying the aromatics on Seeing Double are bad, but the hop bomb you might be expecting is a dud and other forces are at play here.

The taste greets the palate with an immediate astringency — yes, this is an enamel ripper. Strong citrus notes up front (lemon, lime, orange) coupled with grapefruit rind. The beginning of the taste is juicy; middle turns sweet showcasing caramel before bring on another assault of hops, this one going for the bitterness kill. All 126 IBUs fire here, riding notes of bready malts before all the sweetness fades into heavy bitter. It doesn’t turn medicinal, but it’s damn close. There was a touch of alcohol warmth, too. Mouthfeel was medium with a creamy and drying texture.

Foothills first stab at an Imperial style beer is a high-octane and well balanced IPA, where the bitterness grabs you by the tongue and makes you take notice, especially at the end of the taste. My only real complaint was the dull aroma and I wish the hops had been a little more flavorful, perhaps providing more of those delicious ripe fruit flavors instead of full-on bitterness.

Foothills Seeing Double IPA, 88 points. Price: $8.99 US for one 22 oz. bomber size bottle.

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