May 11, 2012

Karl Strauss Tower 20 IIPA

Karl Strauss Tower 20 photo

No beer is perfect. No matter how enthusiastically, fanboy-like it’s devotees may become, it’s just not possible. That said, Karl Strauss’ Tower 20 IIPA — a double IPA weighing in at 9.5% ABV and 100 IBU — just about got a perfect score from the Russian judges, and me.

This prototypical West Coast brew (part of the brewery’s Imperial Collection) is big and loaded with mountainous piles of hoppy goodness. I don’t often gush about a beer, but I will say that Tower 20 is right up there with some of the best double/imperial IPAs that I’ve had. It’s got more than enough tropical citrus, pine resin and counter-balancing malt to make the most diehard IPA fool swoon.


Tower 20 pours a golden amber in color with a decent sized, off-white head that left patchwork lacing as it fell.


A surprisingly well established malt backbone supports tropical citrus (grapefruit, tangerine, and orange zest) and a good helping of pine resin. It certainly smells like a hop heaven.


Loads of tropical fruit, pine resin and herbal hop notes explode in the mouth as the slightly sweet malt does a great job to balance the load. The malts has a subtle sweetness to it that’s quite complimentary unlike some DIPAs that are overly cloying. The 100 IBUs move in swiftly, grabbing the tongue and hanging on for a good long while in the semi-dry finish. The alcohol level doesn’t make much of an impression on the palate until the beer has had time to warm in the glass a bit — but man, does it go straight to the head. As a result, the medium bodied brew drinks well, but should be enjoyed slowly.


Needless to say, I thoroughly enjoyed this beer. As much as I love a strong, robust stout, a well balanced, yet hoppy IPA gets me every time. Tower 20 IIPA is one of those beers that I can see myself enjoying on a regular basis. It’s got all of the trappings of a West Coast IPA with it’s huge fruity hop character, yet also has the forethought to balance it all out with a solid malt character. Well crafted and tasty. What more can you ask for?


This is a review of a promotional sample received from the brewery.

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