Jun 11, 2012

Leinenkugel Big Eddy Imperial IPA

Having received and thoroughly enjoyed the Imperial Stout that’s part of Leinenkugel’s Big Eddy series, I was quite excited to see a couple of bottles of this Imperial IPA arrive at the house the other day. Brewed with Warrior, Cascade, Simcoe, Citra, and Amarillo hops, the beer more than satisfies your craving for all things citrusy and bitter — the brew weighs in at 9% ABV and 78 IBU.

The press sheet that accompanied the samples hinted that this IPA would age well, but after drinking the first bottle, I quickly came to the conclusion that it was just fine as it was fresh. I’ve only aged a few IPAs in my time and the two that seemed to do the best were 2006-2009 Sierra Nevada Celebration and just about any vintage of Dogfish Head’s 120 Minute IPA (which after 5 years was absolutely amazing). I just don’t see this one doing as well. And that’s perfectly fine, the second bottle gave me the opportunity to verify my original impressions that this is an outstanding Imperial IPA.


Big Eddy Imperial IPA pours fairly full and almost syrupy into the glass, resting with a white head that faded to a thin collar over the orange-tinted amber liquid.


A sweet malt backbone provides support for loads of grapefruit, orange, a touch of mango and a decent helping of pine. There’s also a light amount of caramel in the mix as well. I didn’t pick up much alcohol in the nose initially, but it does come out more as the beer warms.


Now, this is a tasty IPA. A decent level of malt sweetness (not too sweet though) persists through layers and layers of hoppy goodness. Orange, mango, pineapple, pine resin and a spicy character define the hops well here, as a touch of caramel and bready malts arrive in the back half. The late forming, moderate hop bite tantalizes and lingers nicely in the dry finish. The mouthfeel is medium to full with a soft carbonation that makes for a smooth and creamy brew. The higher alcohol is there, but in a lower level than expected — it’s masked quite well.


This brew surprised me. I liked the stout, but it needed a little time to develop and mature. This Imperial IPA, however, is good to go right now. It’s got a rich and complex hop character that is just packed with flavor and a decent helping of bitterness, yet it doesn’t overwhelm the palate in the slightest. It’s a great drinking beer that really should be experienced — even if it is owned by MillerCoors. You just don’t expect a beer like this to come from that company.


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

More: ,