Beer Review 0348: Olde Hickory Redeemer Imperial IPA

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Olde Hickory Brewery is located in Hickory, North Carolina, and was founded by Steven Lyerly and Jason Yates in 1994. They started making beer on a seven barrel system, and the small batch mindset continues to this day, with batches being 800 gallons or less at a time. In fact, Olde Hickory are so small, the majority of their beers have hand stamped best by dates on the bottles, including Redeemer IPA.

Redeemer is a limited release, Imperial IPA, coming in at 10% ABV (alcohol by volume). Olde Hickory says this beer is the result of ordering a “few hundred pounds too many hops.” Using Columbus, Centennial, Amarillo, Cascade, and Zythos, the west coast is the inspiration for this big brew, and the bottle showcases a hop cone at the gates of heaven, awaiting to get in.

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The pour produced an unimpressive small head, but that’s to be expected given the high alcohol involved. The head, which was more of a thin cover, was soapy and bright white, and fizzled away within a minute of being in the glass. The color was an impressive bright tangerine orange, and it was opaque thanks to the extremely cloudy body. While there were no particles or sediment floating in this beer, it was obviously unfiltered; and despite the minimal head, lacing was good, leaving lots of thin patches of suds behind. (Toward the end of the bottle, the sediment chunks showed up, and were quite large.)

The nose is your typical west coast style Imperial IPA: a big punch of grapefruit and pine, some nice lemongrass, and a touch of hot garlic. A big wave of caramel malt lends sweetness. Redeemer isn’t complex in aroma; it’s a hop bomb with some sweet malt backing, and the alcohol is hidden very well.

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On the taste, we’ve got fresh grapefruit and pine, which combines with lemon and orange peel to give a solid hop kaboom. The malts are caramel and candy corn, producing an initially sweet brew, but toward the swallow, this becomes moderately to heavily bitter, ushering in notes of dark pine and salty crackers. The finish has grapefruit pith and is especially dank, and delivers a noticeable alcohol bite. Redeemer is full-bodied with a medium mouthfeel, foamy and drying.

Olde Hickory have made a very good example of a west coast Imperial IPA, and I’m proud to have it brewed here in North Carolina. Without question, this is the best double IPA made in NC that I’ve had to date, excluding Deviant Dale’s (Oskar Blues, which now has a facility in Brevard, NC. I rated Deviant Dale’s 94 points). I was surprised by the excellent balance of sweetness at the beginning of the taste versus the expected bitterness on the finish. Good stuff.

Olde Hickory Redeemer Imperial IPA, 92 points. Price: $9.99 US for one 22 oz. bomber size bottle.

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