This is a triple IPA. A TRIPLE IPA. Three times the IPA of a normal IPA. One third more IPA than a double IPA. This thing is so dark and so rich just looking at it, that I’m tempted to wonder if imperial IPAs aren’t actually just smaller kingdoms united under the banner of this triple crown madness.
Founders Devil Dancer is an IPA which is darker than many barleywines I’ve come across. Much like other higher IBU offerings, such as the Harpoon Leviathan or Long Trail Limbo, the nose is dominated not so much by hops, but by raw, bold malt. Its body, so heavy and dark brown, that when held up to a light source, the radiance of the bulb behind it barely comes through. If there were such a thing as a stout IPA, this may very well be it.
Upon a first sip, the boozy, high gravity 12% abv (yes, twelve percent of this twelve-ounce bottle is alcohol) does a sort of waltz across the palate with its partner malt. With its heavy, slightly bready mouthfeel, the warm alcohol content which makes little to no effort to hide itself, causes you to stop and linger on exactly what is going on inside your mouth.
The notes of malt to this beast, when suddenly swept up into a tango with the boozy punch of it, create something of a tangy sweetness which, despite contending with the bolder notes and burn of its origins, still manages to swim about in both the mid and aftertaste with each sip. In the throat and chest, a powerful sort of warming burn rises which, while not unpleasant, serves as a reminder of just how serious a dance with the devil can be. And that is precisely what this brew is like.
There is something provocative and dangerously tempting to it. Rated at 112 IBUs, the IPA enthusiast may be tricked into thinking that this will be among the many bitter, hop forward IPAs out there. To the boozy fans, the 12% abv may seem singularly appealing, offering such up as an alternative to barley wine. In truth, it is both of these things and more with the curious mystery of what I can only describe as hidden flavors.
The bitterness is in there. In truth, it’s right up front and should be properly notable. However, between its richly fermented bite and robust malt character, such is exceptionally hard to notice until one gives it the proper depth of thought and consideration during and between sips.
A product of Founders Brewing, the Devil Dancer is a creature of duality in respect to my experience with them, with both elements of such being quite positive. Firstly, the Dancer sustains the brewery’s consistent and fantastic track record of putting out high quality brews which convey senses of both craft and attention to detail that few other breweries manage on such a consistent basis. In this, I have yet to sip a Founders brew that I have not found fantastic. Yet on the other hand in the second act of this craft brew duality, I believe the Devil Dancer has, in some ways, actually exceeded the appreciation I have for this brand by virtue of its bold and dominating nature.
Between its color, scent and dynamic flavor composition – as well as the seductive qualities of its high alcohol content (which makes the writing admittedly easier) – the Devil Dancer has somewhat surpassed expectations I wasn’t even previously aware of. This brew is, in many respects, the definition of richness and robust body. Released in somewhat limited batches, such is a beer which can be described easily and rightly as an experience. And should you find yourself so either blessed (or damned) as to cross paths with this concoction, do take advantage of it, so that it may take advantage of you in kind.
While the brewery may have provided the product mentioned above for free, I was not required to write a positive review, I did not receive any monetary compensation, and the honest opinions I have expressed are my own.
Nicholas Goroff is a beer lover, writer, actor, ex-political professional and devoted anti-ideologue. Follow him on Twitter @wizardofcause.
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