Brew Review: HopDevil & Sam Adams’ Imperial Stout

HopDevilHopDevil IPA

Victory Brewing Co. Downingtown, PA

6.7% ABV

5 out of 5 stars

Smells like victory. Okay, not quite. But Victory Brewing Co.’s “HopDevil” IPA begins with a proper India Pale Ale aroma – tangy and hoppy – and the color is a cloudy-gold-to amber as the light takes it.

“HopDevil” puts off a good IPA front, and it delivers. This beer starts with a well-balanced hop-to-flavor ratio leaning slightly toward the hoppy side. The hops prove more present in the aftertaste. After the first few swallows the bitterness sits sharp near the center of the tongue with a tangy quality gathering at the tongue’s edges, almost leading to a desire to chew on the thing. “HopDevil” is well carbonated throughout and ultimately levels out to a beer with a refreshing start and an appropriately embittered finish. (Insert relationship joke here.)

This is not a beer, for flavor’s sake, of which I would want more than one or two in a sitting. This makes it a good candidate for a meal beer. Pair “HopDevil” with something full flavored; maybe something with a bit of a bite.

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Imperial StoutSam Adams Imperial Stout

The Boston Beer Co. Boston, MA

9.2% ABV

3 out of 5 stars

First off, though it might be petty, let me say that I am not a fan of the “Sam Adams Boston Lager,” the Boston Beer Company’s frontrunner. However, their version of the imperial stout, part of their “Imperial Series,” is not a bad stab at the style.

As befits its classification, “Sam Adams Imperial Stout” starts with a black pour culminating in an inviting chocolaty head. It has a strong chocolate aroma with a slight syrupy sweetness in the background. These characteristics stay with the beer all the way through a rich, smooth medium-to-light body beer, with a faint hint of vanilla in the mix.

One thing that did catch me with this beer was a vinegary quality in the aftertaste. It was a quality I had encountered before, namely in Alaskan Brewing Company’s “Baltic Porter.” In the end this recognition led me to wonder if “imperial stout” was the right categorization for this Boston Beer offering.

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