The battle of the best India Pale Ales in the world can only be foreseen by the biggest hop heads and many will always come to disagreements. Others will just drink as fresh as possible while others won’t drink nothing else BUT IPAs and those with an open palate to be a little more considerate will take a step back and try to figure out, which is the best as objective as possible. While not many will come to an agreement, we all have to remember, hops aren’t everything. They are vital to a beers bitterness but as the origination of the IPA would say, it was mainly used as a natural preservative for long voyages in the old days. Today’s hop variety has made it possible to make them super complex and this is why I think a lot of people really love hops. I can’t really hate as a part of me really likes IPAs but I refuse to pour any “unfresh” ones (Barleywine anyone?) nor do I accept that the best beer in the world happens to be an IPA. I agree with my friend Richard on this one since as he put it, “how can an IPA beat centuries of brewing especially from monks in Belgium who have perfected these brewing arts”. That and the fact stands I lean toward heavier beers but enjoy all beer styles. Either way, I bring you forth a challenge review today. The up and coming champion or “Pliny Younger Killer”, El Segundo’s Power Plant Triple IPA and “East Coast’s Response to Pliny a.k.a beer advocates Best Beer in the World”, Alchemy’s Heady Topper. Why did I decide to do it like this? Well, for those that wonder, both beers are very fresh, one bottle released 9/27/2014 and the can 9/22/2014. I really wanted to see what the hype was all about. Don’t get me wrong, both are freaking epic beers and I have reviewed both in the past but a chance like this, you don’t ever really get. That and the fact that I really believe Power Plant can destroy the Younger. That and I would like to see, if this new up and coming favorite can really stand up to the monster that is Heady Topper. So here we go, cheers and hope you enjoy my double review…
Alchemist Heady Topper Review*
2014 Heady Topper by Alchemist brewing is a an 8% ABV World Class Double India Pale Ale. Now considered the Best Beer In the World By Beer Advocate.
From the CAN: “DRINK FROM THE CAN! [x3 for added emphasis]“; “Heady Topper is an Ameri[CAN] Double India Pale Ale. This beer is not intended to be the biggest or most bitter. It is meant to give you wave after wave of hoppy goodness on your palate. Tremendous amounts of Ameri[CAN] hops will creep up on you and leave you with a dense hoppy finish in your mouth. So drinkable, it’s scary. Sometimes I wish I could crawl right into the [CAN]. Freshness and control have always been my main concern[s] when it comes to our beer. We are committed to providing you with an unfiltered and unpasteurized hop experience. Why do I recommend that you drink it from the [CAN]? Quite simply, to ensure a delightful, [sic] hop experience. The act of pouring it in a glass smells nice, but it releases the essential hop aromas that we have worked so hard to retain. If you MUST pour it into a glass, you may find that some of the hop resins have settled to the bottom – leave them in the CAN when pouring. This beer is perishable, and at its best when it is young, fresh and hazy. Keep it cold, but not ice cold. Drink this beer immediately, we are always making more. [Undersigned] John Kimmich, The Alchemist, Waterbury, Vermont”; “Don’t be a D-Bag, recycle this [CAN]!”.
Honey dew melon, biscuit bread, oranges, grassy, piney, citrus, flowers, guava, citrus, oranges, tangerine candy, mango, prickly pear, hazelnut hints, sweet grapes, stone fruit peaches, apricot, guava, dragon fruit, passion fruit, dank hints, vanilla and caramel.
Honey Dew Melon, Cantaloupe, Grassy, piney, citrus, biscuit bread, vanilla, mango, oranges, prickly pear, hazelnut hints, sweet grape, stone fruit peach, apricot, guava, dragon fruit, passion fruit hints, flowers, kiwi, pine apple, sugar cane, biscuit bread, Mandarin candy, apples, herbs, dank garlicky onion hints but subdued by more oranges and honey.
Lots of orange, biscuit bread, tangerine, caramel, vanilla, grapefruit hops, piney, grassy and herbal hops. No alcohol in the taste, easy to drink despite the ABV, medium mouthfeel, hazy body, crisp and refreshing.
Supremely Perfect IPA. You pretty much get everything in terms of every range of IPA but mainly on the orangey side. A perfect balanced blend of all the IPA ranges in one. Complex range of tropical, hoppy notes and rich oranges go all over the place. The difference in the can and the glass is mainly with the balance. It is way better in the can as the less air does not allow the flavors to dissipate but when poured into a glass, the orangey side tends to be more pronounced for sure. Either way you have it is fine. The best IPA in the world, why wouldn’t I recommend this? Find it and Find it fresh or just find it either way, you can’t go wrong.
Shiryuu Chou-un from Ikkitousen/Battle Vixens makes a return from the last time I reviewed Heady Topper. The original premise of using her for heady topper had to do with the silver label, the color and flavors of the beer pairing with Shiryuu’s hair, outfit as well as the bad assery with a sword. For being considered the World Class beer that Heady is, I really had to choose a true bad ass samurai girl from the series I watched long ago. Shiryuy usually keeps her eyes closed but in the sight of an epic bottle, her true beauty is shown and that is what represents the the rarity and awesomeness of the beer.
El Segundo Power Plant Review*
2014 Power Plant by El Segundo Brewing is an 11.3% ABV Triple India Pale Ale.
This behemoth of a “Triple” India Pale Ale gets a dose of Mosaic, Citra, Simcoe, and Amarillo in the kettle and in the dry hop. Up front on the nose is straight fruit cocktail with such a complexity it is impossible to distinguish just one note. Monstrous, yet deceptive in the same breath. Don’t let this one sneak up on you, lest you’ll be #PowerPlanted.
Tropical fruits off the charts, grapefruit, honey dew melon, kiwi, guava, oranges, dragon fruit, passion fruit, papaya, mango, raspberries, cherries, pineapple, pears, lychee, biscuit bread, lemons, tangerine, apples, stone fruit peaches, apricots, piney, citrus, grapefruit, herbal and floral hops, sweetened condensed milk and flan hints.
Rich tropical fruits, grapefruit, pineapple, kiwi, oranges, mango, guava, honey dew melon, passion fruit, strawberry, papaya, apples, pears peaches, lychee fruit, sweetened condensed milk hints, biscuit bread, vanilla, caramel, lemon, orange gummy bears, tangerines, raspberries, cherries, honey, herbal notes and minor honey oniony dankness.
Rich Tropical fruits aftertaste with very nice grapefruit hop resin, biscuit and caramel. No alcohol in the taste. Very smooth, easy to drink, crisp and refreshing despite the high ABV.
Just as extraordinary as the first one I brought home with me. The bottle bottle make version seems more awesome. This beer is really out there and really ridiculous. Balance is insane but tropics are supremely pronounced and super complex. This beer was released for a limited time during the LA craft beer week and they had plenty of bottles. I am unsure if they will have enough for distribution but for a beer that truly took everything I believed about IPAs and took me to another dimension of sweet tropical proportions, there is not damn reason why I would not recommend this to my highest of standards.
Ryuoko Matoi from Kill La Kill was the right pairing for this beer because I wanted to show that the height of power plant smokestacks (in this case a tower) represents the height of evil corporations (hype in the craft beer community) as well as how power plants pollute the earth and cause acid rain to fall (Beer Snobery). Ryuoko is there to represent this Triple IPA and to show that even at the height of all the IPA hype out there (Pliny the Younger, I am looking at you), one will stand up to it to bring it down. Like in Final Fantasy VII where Cloud Strife helped to take down the Mako power plants, Ryuoko would do the same and bring the level of “IPA Hype” away from the overly hyped brews and back into the roots of the local community microbreweries. YES! And this is why I chose this one.
It would basically be a tie if it wasn’t for the fact that it is almost like comparing apples and oranges. Speaking of apples and oranges, it really is easy to determine why one would prefer one over the other. I once described IPAs falling into 3 categories. Those that are tropical, those that are herbal and grassy and those that are caramel or more orangey like those that can harness all 3 into a perfect balance. Heady topper is a hybrid of all 3 when drinking from the can but more orangey and citrus from the glass while Power Plant is at the extreme end of awesome tropic Nirvana and yet still maintaining the balance of the 3. In this sense, It would only be fair to say that the winner of this battle is Power Plant!!!
This because of my personal preference and opinion on tropical IPAs, I love tropical IPAs. Nevertheless, to those that truly like IPAs to take them for a crazy ride, Heady Topper is no joke and reigns supreme. I can respect and love both beers. While Power Plant caresses the ultimate IPA sweet tooth, Heady Topper is there to remind you of an ultimate form of IPA. I have never tried Pliny the Younger, some day I will. Only then can I truly say if that can really topple these 2 beers. Until then, Both of these beers take the cake easily. Pliny the Younger, you met your match!! HELL YEAH!!
Rating: 5.25/5* El Segundo Power Plant
Rating: 5/5* Alchemist Heady Topper