Thursday, August 30, 2012

Imperial IPAs — Nogne ø vs. New Belgium/Alpine Brewing Collaboration

Nogne ø
Imperial India Pale Ale
ABV 10%

New Belgium/Alpine Brewing
Super India Pale Ale 
ABV 9%

It's an international battle this time with Nogne ø representing Norway and the dynamic duo of New Belgium (Colorado) and Alpine (Southern California) representing the good ol' US of A. Could the highly regarded Scandinavian brewery possibly compete with a style dreamed up and perfected in the states? It's important questions like this that we tackle for you here at Bottle Battle headquarters.

The Nogne ø was gorgeous, showing off a crystal clear, vibrant, rusty red. It's a color that all beers in the "Red" category should aspire to. The golden yellow Super IPA was fairly pedestrian in comparison, but what it lacked in appearance it more than made up for in aroma. The sharp, resiny, citrusy, hop-candy notes exploded out of the glass giving us the equivalent of a hoppy brain-freeze. It was positively intoxicating and one of the best aromas either of us have ever had the pleasure of experiencing in an imperial IPA. The aroma of the Nogne ø wasn't even in the same league. It smelled mostly of bready, toasted malt with some herbal notes (rosemary maybe). Honestly, neither of us would have guessed from the aroma that it was an IPA at all. 

Both beers were quite sweet and malty but the Super still had a distinct hop presence albeit one that tasted like a reduction of hoppy honey. The Nogne ø was just sweet through and through with perhaps a touch of orange as the only flavor reminiscent of hops to go along with the dominate flavors of brown sugar and dates. The finish on both was a bit syrupy but at least the Super contrasted that with a moderate bitterness.

So, for this battle at least, the US flexed its imperial IPA muscle and straight dominated. The Nogne ø was all show and barely tasted like an IPA at all. Not sure when the Nogne ø was brewed but it might be possible that the trip overseas and the days on the shelf have stripped away what was once a hoppy beer. Most IPAs are meant to be drunk as fresh as possible before the hops begin to fade. As a celebration of our victory I invite you all to raise a glass of Super IPA and burst into a rousing rendition of "My Country 'Tis of IPA."

Unanimous Decision: New Begium/Alpine Brewing Super IPA

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