|Photo: Jenene Chesbrough|
To sate hop lovers' jones, we turn to the West Coast. There, California brewers are engaged in an arms race to craft bigger, burlier double India pale ales like Russian River's wondrous Pliny the Elder, Stone's Ruination and Port Brewing's heavenly Hop-15 Ale (above).
Based in San Marcos, Calif., Port Brewing is helmed by beer magician Tomme Arthur. Though the funky Belgian ales he brews under the Lost Abbey imprint are fabulous, we're happiest when he's hoppiest.
Like with Hop-15. Originally brewed in 2002, and so popular it soon entered the everyday Port Brewing roster, the 10 percent ABV treat incorporates 15 hop varietals ("don't ask, don't tell," was all the brewery would reveal), added to the beer in 15-minute intervals.
The highly calibrated result is resinous bliss. Arthur's ambrosia spills out the color of cloudy oranges, with sticky lacing that clings to the glass like a spider web. The bright bouquet is floral and citric -- spoonfuls of grapefruit, anyone? -- while the sharp, tangy taste is rounded out by a smidgen of sturdy caramel sweetness that lingers on tongues, daring drinkers to take another sip.
They always do. That's the danger of addiction: When presented with the purest form, it's hard to say no.
What IPAs -- double or otherwise -- drive you crazy?