To drink a double IPA is typically to feel a double IPA. The extra alcohol offers a sharp warmth in the chest, a perfect complement to the thrill of controlled danger that comes with an ABV approaching double digits. Southern Tier’s 2XIPA is a standby, the Western New York standard for the style, while Ballast Point’s Watermelon Dorado, the one watermelon beer I can actually stomach, is a decent pick for a special occasion. If I were to pick a beer emblematic of the style, however, it would be Dogfish Head’s 90-minute IPA, perhaps their best beer despite its relative mundanity amongst their variety of odd flavors and styles, a perfect blend of flavorful hops, high(ish) alcohol, and a near-addictive drinkability whether cold or only slightly cooled.
Mostly, the double is something I’ll turn to in the winter, something that can give me the warmth of a stout or porter without the overwhelming darkness of those styles.
All that said: Troegs’ Nimble Giant is a monster, a “giant” in child’s clothes. The stats say 9% alcohol and 69 IBUs, so we’re definitely in double IPA territory, but you’d hardly know it. The nose is light and citrusy. The color is bright, a yellowish-orange, and not all that cloudy. The head is thicker than most IPAs, but not excessive; just enough to remind you that you’re drinking beer. And the taste…
I’m in the middle of something like “IPA fatigue.” There are only so many IPAs you can drink before they all start to taste like each other. That’s why Nimble Giant is such a surprise — it’s extremely drinkable from start to finish, offering a smooth feel and easy finish that entirely belies that 9% alcohol figure. The alcohol is there, as are the Simcoe and Mosaic hops that play off of each other without diluting the flavor all that much, but nothing is too overwhelming. It’s a double that drinks like a session.
If there’s a criticism to be levied that the Nimble Giant it is that its status as an “event beer” (only brewed once a year! #FindTheGiant!) sets up a level of expectation that runs counter to its simple charms. There is no revelation to be had when drinking a Nimble Giant, unless you count that of waking up and immediately regretting the night before because that entire four-pack of 16-ounce cans was just a little too easy to take down. It is simply a delicious beer, nothing more and nothing less, and while that’s not a strike against it, it is difficult to justify hunting it down for anything more than to inspire jealousy on Untappd.
I drank it cold, out of a can and out of a stemmed beer glass. It’s refreshing cold, and it opens up nicely as it warms. Absolutely recommended, even if it won’t necessarily change your life.