A recent pour of Pliny the Elder (see this week's CHOW story) reminded me just how impressive a well-made, big IPA can taste. A good India Pale Ale should be crisp, cold and hop-forward. A double IPA, sometimes called an Imperial IPA (a term borrowed from Russian Imperial stouts), is simply a bolder version of the classic. Doubles have higher alcohol content, usually 7 percent and above, and often twice the hops or more of a normal IPA. And, as is the case with the Ace of Spades Imperial IPA, double IPAs are often better when served closer to room temperature—a trick that reveals all the complex hop layers. Almost everyone makes a double now, but few truly succeed. Here are six outstanding Oregon versions—all are available locally on tap or in a bottle.
Make it a Double IPA
68 IBUs, 8.3% ABV
Much like the Brewery's famously big IPA, Hop Henge (which you may still be able to find on shelves, but is typically only offered in 22-ounce bottles from January through April), Make it a Double packs a citrus punch.
Notorious Triple IPA
80 IBUs, 12% ABV
A gigantic, but perfectly balanced beer that belies its high alcohol content.
Tricerahops Double IPA
Ninkasi Brewing Co. (Eugene)
100 IBUs, 8.8% ABV
At $4.99 a bottle this locally available 22-ouncer may be the best big IPA value out there.
Worthy Imperial IPA
Worthy Brewing Co.
85 IBUs, 8.5% ABV
Dry hopped and boasting eight versions of Willamette Valley hops, this is the copper-colored beer hop fanatics dream about.
Crazyhorse Double IPA
Silver Moon Brewing
107+ IBUs, 8.9% ABV
Somehow, even at over 100 IBUs, this bodacious IPA remains fruit-forward and lacks the acidity often associated with over-hopped brews.
Ace of Spades Imperial IPA
Hopworks Urban Brewery (Portland)
100+ IBUs, 9%ABV
If you can still find this impressively smooth beer, buy it—citrus, strong and organic!