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Central City Brewers : Imperial IPA


“What?! Someone else can guard the exhaust port for like ten minutes, I need a beer, Vader's been on my case all week. Geeze, it's not like anything could happen." - Photo: Craig Kalnin

Central City has been producing excellent beers for some time now with their Red Racer series (we’ve previously covered their ESB and Seasonal Pumpkin Ale) and have dabbled in special releases along the way, but previously they were only available on tap.  Their most recent offering, the Imperial IPA, won a Gold medal at the 2012 Canadian Brewing Awards.  Oh, and they also took home the 2012 Canadian Brewery of the Year award, you know, no biggie… proof positive that Gary Lohin, who’s silver signature graces the Imperial IPA’s label, not only knows his stuff, but is darned good at it too.

With the twitterverse abuzz on the release of the Imperial IPA, we ran out and picked up a couple bottles (plus one for a fellow Hobbyist, aren’t we nice!), and were immediately impressed.  The labeling speaks to the quality of the beer within; sharp, sophisticated and almost regal in its simplicity.  It took us a little while to figure out how photograph this one, but then it hit us like 1.08 quadrillion tons of steel.

Don’t be mistaken though, there is nothing simple about this beer.  Poured almost straight out of the fridge, we find a thin but persistent head of fine bright white bubbles, starkly contrasted to the surprisingly deep amber colour of the beer itself.  The complexity of the nose took us a while to tease apart, and we’re still not quite sure we’ve got it all figured out (good thing we bought more bottles!).  We found deep, dense floral hoppiness, with strong currents of spruce, juniper, some grassy sweetness like hay cured just right in a clean barn, definite citrus but rounder and sweeter, and a melody of other sweet notes that kept slipping between our fingers, perhaps ripe tropical fruits?

The beer provides just as much complexity on tasting.  The 90 IBU’s are clearly there, starting off as solid, robust, almost creamy bitterness that fills the mouth and coats the palate, also providing a wonderfully long linger which seems to end off with just a dash of sharper, grapefruit pith bitterness.  The sweet malt aspects are woven into the central weight of the bitterness, helping to give this beer a wonderfully full, round body, and the 9.5% ABV provides some warmth as it goes down.  As it warmed, the malts become a little more prominent, as do sweet oranges, but still retain their balance with the strong, complex hop profile.

Overall, a very impressive beer with plenty of aspects to explore, so run out and grab some while you still can, we know we’ve seen a few bottles hanging around very recently in some of our favorite beer spots.