The beverage managers around NoVA must despair whenever a VBR phone number hits the Caller ID. We sure do our darnedest to plead, bribe, and cajole our way into some of the more uncommon (if not rare for the general public) releases when it comes to stocking our kegerators. By no means are we always successful, but we at least like to think an occasional bone or favor gets thrown our way. In terms of selection, we seem to split up styles so one house (usually mine) has the lower ABV/IBU kegs and the other features all the big IPAs, stouts, and porters. This particular beer has been no exception to that rule the past few years having shown up several times in our fridges (though never mine). When stopping by Port City for their recent anniversary celebration, though, I spied it on tap and brought back a little growler for myself. If you’re curious, well they just happened to release a small bottle run on April 17th. The name says it all.
Maniacal IPA, Port City Brewing Company (Alexandria, VA)
Double IPA, ABV 8.5%, IBU 85
Presentation: Growler pour into pint glass.
Appearance: Like a mega-sized whiskey sour with a fire-touched mandarin core limned by flakes of gold at the base of the glass. Despite plenty of carbonation in the growler, very little head and a total lack of lattice. This beer is keeping everything just for you.
Taste: Floral aromas as if you just rode over your neighbor’s bed of petunias assault the nose, with just the slightest hint of brown sugar in the background. Similarly bold, diverse citrus flavors battle back and forth throughout the body, once again balanced out just enough by the malts so as not to overpower the beer. If you had to try to name the citrus, you can just tease out a hybrid between peach and pineapple at the tip of the tongue that becomes more grapefruit as it moves through your mouth. Strikingly, for all the Hops the residual bitterness sits at the very back of the tongue, reminding one of a more piney finish.
Mouth Feel: Very crisp but more from the insane Hop ratio. Port City’s goal was to be hoppy but not overly bitter, and to that regard they’ve succeeded. You won’t realize you’re drinking an 85 IBU beer, but at the same time some elements of the finish are very much reminiscent of the smoky burn you’ll get from a Bourbon and water or other cocktail cooler. In other words, you’ll notice the 8.5% ABV as you may in some Imperials.
Overall: This is a bold little punk of a beer. The flavors are so strong – and the beer profile so large – that it’s best suited for a single, slowly sipped pint rather than the sort of ritualistic pounding common to your college age drinking methods. We mean all of that quite lovingly. While the beer requires discipline, it makes it onto our keg list because it’s the sort of pint that attaches itself to your hip from the time you loosen your tie through dinner, dog walking, and finally onto your sofa to watch reruns of Archer. If nothing else, just twirl it across your tongue a bit to take it all in…