It’s finally time. It’s actually well past the time, but we’re getting around to it now. After all the trash talked about ultra-hoppy, high IBU IPAs, the time has come to try the Leviathan IPA from Harpoon.
To begin, this IPA comes in at an international bittering unit (IBU) rating or 122. What does this mean? It means that in terms of bitterness, according to the often nebulous rating system assigned to the beer by the brewers and beer Illuminati whose secret lair lies behind a thick bundle of hop vines somewhere in the Michigan wilderness, this is – or at least should be – an exceptionally bitter, hoppy endeavor.
At a pour, the Leviathan appears darker than many other IPAs, with a copper, almost reddish coloring to it. The head is a thick, clingy, foamy mix of bubbles ranging from the pencil-head sized to the microscopic. A quick sniff of the brew presents a definitively east coast hop aroma with an earthy, mineral tinge to it. So of course, as the tiny oxygen bubbles rise up from the bottom making an animated spectacle of my darker colored ale, I’m now utterly obliged to sip.
So it happens. Even before the beer hits my lips, I brace myself for an onslaught of face contorting bitterness and overpowering hop, but then, I taste what is in my glass – and I am surprised.
In the body of this heavyweight, 10% abv IPA, which in terms of mouth feel is somewhat richer and thicker than most other pale ales, a strange sort of sincerity comes through. The bitter is there and is for what it is, rather pronounced, yet once again defying stereotype, especially in regards to such a higher IBU brew, it isn’t alone. No, this bitterness comes well complemented with friends who range from subtly floral to curiously sweet, each layering on top of one another in something of a high alcohol flavor cuddle.
Yes, I said flavor cuddle. No amount of comments will ever make me wonder why I used such a term any more than I am wondering such now, nor will any further additions to this sentence cause me to take a letter of it back. These flavors like one another. They’re in there together, not as separate entities of a mechanical whole, but rather as distinct parts of an indistinguishable totality which when tangled up together, somehow really work to make everyone involved (in this case, myself and the beer) quite happy.
This beer, this high IBU “Leviathan,” is presenting to me what the upside of high rated bitterness can be. Now granted, anything rating over 100 on the IBU scale is incorporating its rating somewhat superfluously. In this, I’m tempted to wonder just how useful such a rating may be, both between this smooth and palatable mix of flavors amounting to such a ranking, as well as the fact that in a number of beers (particularly IPAs) of lower IBU ratings, I’ve found greater and more pronounced bitterness in every sip.
Regardless of this, this brew itself, holding the highest rating to be found at Bert’s, is itself more notable for its alcohol content than its actual bitter flavor. I’m not even half way through my glass and already my mind is feeling decently numbed and my sentences string on into run-ons, ranging far beyond my minimum required word count, which go on only with the help of commas and a blessed sense of cadence, which I can only hope maintains after the buzz has worn off and I dare to read a comment on the article.
This is a good beer. The kind that reminds you that short sentences are good. But long ones are too. A beer that, in my time with EveryJoe.com, has proven to be the easiest to write about and surprisingly, one of the easiest to drink.
Nicholas Goroff is a beer lover, writer, actor, ex-political professional and devoted anti-ideologue. Follow him on Twitter @wizardofcause.
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