In the halls of beerdom, some words are interchangeable
'Double' and 'Imperial', for instance. They both mean the same thing - take a particular style of beer and feed it steroids. That's what Rogue have done with their 'XS' (Xtra Special) series of beers, and I'm very pleased to have laid my hands on a keg of XS I2PA Imperial IPA.
A little education first.
During the heyday of the British Empire it was lamented (by those serving Queen and Country in places with exotic names such as Chittagong, Bangalore and Calcutta) that most beers didn't do too well on the journey from Great Britain to India. They couldn't stand up to several months at sea in the tropical heat. What arrived in India was hardly drinkable so brewers devised a way around this. They took an ordinary pale ale and upped both the hop and alcohol content to create a more robust beer. It was named India Pale Ale, or IPA, and became a beer style all of its own. Incidentally, this is why most beers called 'Export' are stronger than the stuff you get at home - they had to be able to deal with the journey overseas, and although shipping beer around the world these days is a lot more forgiving, usually taking place in in large container ships and often under refrigeration, the description has stuck.
Having built this up as a beer with spherical objects, I2PA is remarkably easy for the style. Rogue has fine tuned the balance between malt and hops to give it a smooth flavour and a bitterness that doesn't hit you straight away. If you're a hop-bomb aficionado you might even think it a little ho-hum until a few seconds after it slides down your throat... then you get that incredible finish that comes from the Saaz, Cascade and Northwest Golding hops. Don't let it lull you into false sense of security though - the 9.2%ABV will smack you right between the eyes if you're not careful.
Until next time (which probably won't be too long in this instance)...
Jim Hughes, Head Beer Nerd, Alamo South Lamar
“If I had all the money I’ve spent on drink… I’d spend it on drink.” ~ Sir Henry Rawlinson