Sunday, February 6, 2011
Review - Vancouver Island Double Decker IPA
Double Decker is a "British Style" IPA, a style that is almost non-existent in the UK, but meaning one that has more of a malt emphasis than most highly-hopped North American IPA's. When I read that they were using Cascade hops, the quintessential North American hop, I was somewhat confused. If you're making a British IPA why not use world-renowned British hops such as Goldings, Brewer's Gold, or Northern Brewer? All these are easily available in North America. Was this whole "British IPA" claim merely a front to explain why this beer would be another dull offering, not having the superb hop character of modern IPA's? I put these concerns aside as I sat down to try the Double Decker. Prejudging beers is something I want to avoid so I gave this beer the benefit of the doubt. Maybe this could be the first great offering from VIB in years, something to bring their old fans back into the fold with a new take on the IPA that was actually a vision of IPA's of the past. As I opened the bottle I was ready to like this beer.
The Double Decker pours an attractive golden amber with a white head that immediately fades. On the back of the bottle it states "we hope you enjoy its assertive hop aroma" so I was surprised when there seemed to be virtually no hop bouquet. The aroma had some fermentation character, but almost no hops. The emphasis on this beer is definitely on the malt, it has that same malt flavour that seems common to all VIB beers. But any IPA should have some hop character and this beer has almost none. There are virtually no front-end, or flavouring hops detectable at all. It does have a mildly bitter finish, and this is really the only thing that sets it apart from pretty much every other VIB beer on the market. If I had to pick two words to sum up this beer the first one would be drinkable. The second one would be boring.