A Superb Owl Party

Eno Sarris, February 03, 2014

The owls were up on the wall. The meat was in the slow cooker. The beers were on ice. The guac was made. I had a few seconds to myself, amazingly, and I tried to rein in the frazzle. It was after noon, and 15-20 people were going to show up soon, but right now the wife and kid were napping, and I had the chance to pop a beer...

but it couldn't be one that was planned for the taster session. So I picked one I've foisted on my friends countles times. There was no reason to make them drink Firestone Walker Double Jack again. So I sat back and watched the puppy bowl with a DJ and relished the calm before the storm.

The storm came so quickly that I can't even turn to my untappd feed for help. I gave up at some point. I think I even lost my phone. There might have been some yelling. There definitely was some running. From the bottles littering my kitchen, I think the afternoon went something like this:

  • Firestone Walker Double Jack IPA
  • AleSmith X Double IPA
  • Ninkasi ReNEWale Alt Pale Ale
  • Redbridge Gluten Free Amber Ale
  • Almanac Brandy Barrel Peche Sour
  • Almanac Sourdough Wild Ale Sour
  • Almanac Valley of the Hearts Delight Sout
  • Almanac Bourbon Sour Porter
  • Bear Republic Apex IPA
  • Peter B's Brewing IPA
  • Boulevard Tank 7 Saison
  • Speakeasy Betrayal Imperial Red
  • Ninkasi Dawn of the Red
  • Ballast Point Victory at Sea with Vanilla
  • Clown Shoes Blaecorn Unidragon Russian Imperial Stout
  • Stone Smoked Porter with Vanilla Bean
  • Lagunitas IPA

That's the general map of our descent into madness.

The beer week Almanac sours were great, but the Bourbon Sour Porter still beat them all. The sourdough sour was so lemony it almost took the citrus thing too far. The peach one was a bit restrained. If you're going to have one of the three, have the Valley of the Hearts Delight. The loquats and cherries make that one the winner by far, and they balanced the sour aspect of the beer best.

We got into a little imperial red battle there for a second, and sober-er minds would have taken notes for a beer-off. Instead, we all drunkenly agreed that Ninkasi won the competition. I have no notes. I just remember very clearly that Ninkasi won.

The stouts were great, we knew they would be. But by then we were a bit ridiculous. Our wives had taken our children away from us, the game was out of hand, and we knew the door was looming. It was a pitiful site to see. And I couldn't resist one eye at the remaining beers -- of course there were five Redbridges left (it tasted better than a Budweiser and it was by them so, kudos but I don't want any more), and it looked like the old bystander, Lagunitas IPA, was going to outlast the bombers. We didn't make it to the Avery Hog Heaven, but now was not the time for at Triple-A-slash-barleywine. Now was the time for looking for pants, and toys, and wits.

I remembered the quiet moment with the Double Jack fondly.

Firestone Walker Double Jack

Appearance = 5/5

Perfect. Thick one-inch-plus white head on top of caramel beer with lots of bubbles. This is what the platonic beer looks like. Nice lacing.

Smell = 4.75/5

Pine. Flowers. Caramel. Citrus. You're goddam right it's a California double IPA.

Taste = 5/5

Citrus, for sure. Pine oh yeah. This guy evolves. It's a bit fruitier on the front, then you get hit with the pine, and you end with citrus. The malt is a baseline for the jazz the hops are playing -- it builds throughout. You'll have to like your IPA with a lot of malt, but at 9.5% ABV with all the hops California likes to jam in there, this is the Double IPA where you know everything is dialed up to 11, and yet it tastes well-balanced. Complicated in that there are very many tastes from beginning to the end of a sip, but simple in that it all comes together.

Mouthfeel = 4.75/5

You get some foam -- it's a well-carbonated beer -- but that balances the smooth, thick feeling of a big double IPA. And the citrus hops help to finish the beer with a dryness that makes you want to take another sip. Nothing cloying, but it's sweet, and it's important to have that hops finish the taste.

Overall = 5/5

My platonic double IPA. I do love malty double IPAs, though, so I can understand not giving this beer a five. But for me, it's perfect. A 104 Style+ seems very low, and you can see that BAR (8.47) better represents the popularity of this beer among raters. It's one of the few old favorite beers I make sure I check in to whenever I have it. I've pimped this to everyone I know, and now I can count you in that number. If you haven't had a Double Jack, and you like IPAs, go remedy that problem as soon as you can. And do so responsibly, so you don't end up slurring "How Much is That Doggie in the Window" to the owls on your son's wall as he takes a bath in the next room.