Hypothetical situation: The world is ending. Maybe there’s a meteor careening toward earth, or our president poured Gatorade on all the crops because plants need electrolytes. Doesn’t matter why we’re all going down, the important thing is the end is near. What’s the last beverage you reach for? Is it a specific beer? A shot of Pappy? Kambucha? If I were smart, I’d drink a Nalgene of water to help flush my body and soul before meeting my maker, but in my heart, I know that if I only have minutes to live, I’m reaching for an IPA. Exactly which IPA is a matter of great internal debate, but Drake’s Brewing, out of California, is making a solid case that your end of days beer should be something from their Hopocalypse series, a trio of limited release, large format beers that consists of a Double IPA, a Triple IPA and a Hazy Double IPA. And the argument has merit: if you can only have one beer before you die, you might as well make it a big 22-ounce bomber. And why not make it 13% too? That’s just smart math.
I recently had a chance to knock back the Double and Triple IPAs in a back to back session (on a Monday) that made me think the end was in fact near the following morning. Here are my thoughts on both beers.
This is one of those beers that gets its own holiday, Hopocalypse Day, in early February, when IPA nerds get all itchy and line up to score a fresh batch of a beer that Drake’s says holds a “devastating quantity of hops.” I can assure you, it’s not just marketing hype. Drake’s used Jarrylo, El Dorrado, Simcoe and Chinook hops to create a beautiful, West Coast palate scorcher of an IPA. If you’re merely IPA-curious, move along; this one is for professionals.
The beer pours a clean, copper orange and smells zesty, like you took a fingernail to a grapefruit rind and scratched into the oils that hide in the skin. The mouthfeel is both soft and fluffy (there’s wheat in the malt bill) and oily and resinous at the same time. There’s some fruit here, but it’s hidden beneath several stories of tingling, almost spicy, hop zest. I get notes of mellow melon, lemon rind and grapefruit. The backend has more bite than a teething toddler, and the booze (9.3% ABV) is noticeable, which makes me worried about popping open its Triple IPA counterpart. But I’m a professional, so…
Fans just call this version “the black label,” which is a little ominous. I don’t drink a lot of triple IPAs because I have kids and a job, and I’ve found through years of scientific study that triple IPAs are not conducive to waking up in the morning.
Drake’s Hopocalypse Double and Triple are actually very similar in their build, using mostly the same malt and hops. The only difference is the Triple uses Amarillo instead of Simcoe and Carapils malt instead of white wheat. Oh, and the Triple is 13% ABV.
It’s actually a little softer on the nose than the Double, delivering earthy and dank notes. As for the taste, it’s more intense all around. It has more of a malt backbone, with delicious layers of caramel, and more fruit in the form of pineapple and orange, and it’s even spicier than the Double on the backend, with a serious hop after burn that sticks around long after you put the glass down. And yeah, it’s super boozy, but you should know that going into this beer. It is “the black label,” after all. Read that description and you might think that Hopocalypse is a balanced IPA, but you’d be wrong. Sure, there’s plenty of malt and fruit, but this beer is a showcase for hops.
So, after trying both beers, and considering the meteor is crashing towards our planet and I can only reach for one…I gotta go with Hopocalypse Triple. Both beers are fine examples of over the top IPAs, but if the end is near, I want something intense that has an impact that will rival the meteor strike. And Hopocalypse Triple definitely leaves a mark.
City: San Leandro, California
Availability: Very limited, bottles