Beer Review 0328: Epic Hopulent Imperial IPA

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Epic Brewing Company hails out of Salt Lake City, Utah, and they primarily focus on high alcohol content beer. Operations started in 2008, when Utah modified its state laws and higher ABV (alcohol by volume) beers could be produced — the founders are David Cole and Peter Erickson, both of whom shared a longtime dream of opening a microbrewery.

Kevin Crompton, the head brewer, came from Bohemian Brewery; immediately, Epic started winning accolades for its beers.

The company divides its offerings into three different series: Classic, Elevated, and Exponential. As you might expect, the beers get more extreme and creative with each jump of series; Hopulent Imperial IPA, the beer I’m looking at today, belongs in the Elevated series.

The extremely cool thing about Epic beers is that they appear to brew them a bit differently each time (making them one of a kind!); in lieu of a date on the bottle, they give you a release number. For this particular beer, hop varieties vary by season and there are some changes to the grain bill. My bottle is release #51, and if you go to Epic’s website, you can look up that exact number and find out everything you need to know about the brew. This batch was brewed with Columbus, Chinook, Centennial, and Simcoe hops. Alcohol content comes in at 8.7%; the brew took place on September 3, 2012, and bottling went down on September 27th.

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On the pour, Hopulent issued up a large and puffy white head, lasting and with a creamy texture that reminded me of a Belgian Tripel. The color of the beer was a beautiful golden-orange, with just enough haze reminiscent of a summer sunset. The liquid was clear in body, free of particles and sediment, and the lacing left behind was superb, with thick, fluffy sheets left clinging to the glass.

Despite this beer being almost six months old, its still a hop explosion on the nose — big scents of resinous pine, sticky sweet tropical fruits with big kicks of lemon and lime. The background features some faded grapefruit and orange, and it’s supported by a sweet malt backbone of caramel. There’s some light grain; this brew just smells very bitter and astringent, despite the massive amount of fruit that initially delights the sniffer.

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The taste opens to some dank earthiness before transitioning to a sharp lemon with a grapefruit edge; there’s an initial hit of bitter that is immediately balanced by a super sweet caramel and general malt. I immediately noticed how thick the mouthfeel was; the beer was creamy yet quite drying, as the finish came on with a sharp bitter note that was balanced with some sweetness; however, the bitterness definitely wins out featuring flavors of lemon peel, grapefruit, and crushed aspirin. Bring on a mild alcohol hit and some pine and you’ve got yourself quite a bitter drink.

Hopulent is a big beer with some nice flavors and ample hops, but it’s not refreshing. If you’re looking for a massive Imperial IPA with a nearly overwhelming bitter flavor but a nice minor edge of sweetness, (I know, those are conflicting, but it’s here) you’re barking up the right tree…but if you’re looking for something more on the refreshing side that you might want to have a couple of, look elsewhere. It’s hard to finish this bottle by yourself.

Epic Hopulent Imperial IPA, 91 points. Price: $7.99 US for one 22 oz. bomber size bottle.

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