Friday, March 22, 2013

Alchemy Hour Double IPA by Great Lakes

"Too Sweet"...

...Is no longer just a cheesy cliche from '90's era professional wrestling. 

Alchemy Hour Double IPA
9.4% ABV
80 IBUs

Great Lakes' Alchemy Hour is such a challenge to review.  While it is downright delicious, it clearly misses the mark of what is expected of the Double IPA class. 

Alchemy Hour presents itself bright orange in color and appears mostly clear.  A bubbly and long-lasting head is produced. 

The foamy head initially impacts Alchemy Hour's aroma which, at first, seems citrus in nature.  As the head dissipates, Alchemy Hour's true aroma is revealed, and it is pungent with grasses and pines. 

The aroma is excellent, highly influential during the drinking experience and, ultimately, the best of Alchemy Hour's components.  

Tipping the glass, immediately Alchemy Hour proves itself remarkably smooth and well balanced.  The tingles expected of a beer rich in IBUs only slightly, but pleasantly sting the very tip of the tongue and are quickly washed away by a general sweetness. 

And, while the sweetness balances the initial spiciness, this candy-like characteristic quickly becomes all too overwhelming, presenting Alchemy Hour's dominating flaw.   

That said, Great Lakes has crafted an exceptionally beautiful beer in appearance. 

Symmetrical lacing leaves Alchemy Hour's signature in layers upon the glass.

For an IPA, let alone a Double, Alchemy Hour is hardly bitter.  This beer is more sweet than spicy and the sugar-strong taste gives a sort of false anticipation of a syrupy mouthfeel.  Yet, no real stickiness remains with the teeth or palate.

If a beer were to exhibit emotions, Alchemy Hour's flavor profile would thank its aroma brethren.  The robust smell, very piney, is influential throughout the drinking experience, and levels out the taste that is exceptionally sweet and reminds, in characteristic, of mandarin oranges. 

Suprisingly, and to some disappointment, the heavy alcohol by volume is very well masked.  Perhaps too much, as Alchemy Hour would appeal even more if it offered some alcohol warmth

As to not sell Alchemy Hour short, the flavor profile does exhibit some bread-like maltiness.  But, again, through and through, the word of the day with this beer is "sweet."  

And while Alchemy Hour is, in fact, "Too Sweet," it is only relative to other IPA and Double IPAs.  It doesn't taste bad.  Quite to the contrary; Alchemy Hour is undoubtedly tasty. 

It's just also excessive.  And not in the ways in which a Double IPA should be indulgent.  

If only Alchemy Hour's hop profile would bite a bit more.  If only it were a tad more spicy and many magnitudes less sweet...

...As it stands Alchemy Hour is a contradiction in a bottle.  Delectable, yet not deserving, really, of praise.  

Its contradiction presents itself thusly: 2.5 stars (of five), yet a recommendation.  Because Alchemy Hour is an enjoyable beer generally, but disappointing as an IPA (and more so as a Double). 


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