Evil Twin has recently started brewing out of a facility in Stratford, Conn., affording them much bigger reach for their usually-great beers. Along with some better distro for ET’s brother, the infamous Mikkeller, things are looking up for Scandinavian beer in America!
This is a 13 percent imperial IPA brewed “with natural flavors,” and the label touts it as “one of the craziest beer [sic] ever made by Evil Twin Brewing.” This is Molotov Cocktail’s first appearance in smaller format bottles, having previously been released in 16.9-ounce bottles brewed in Denmark at Brewery Bryghus. With the appearance of this brew in four-packs, I couldn’t say no and had to see how the biggest IPA I’ve ever drank could possibly stand up to the other new-school “triple IPAs” such as Green Flash’s Green Bullet and Founders’ Devil Dancer.
Well, the pour is totally beautiful, with a huge, dense head of chalk-white foam looming over an actively-carbonated, somewhat-lighter-than-expected light orange body. Ripe mango, citrus and caramel notes are all apparent, but a slight solvent alcohol and spicy phenolic note carries a thread throughout. The flavor is thickly layered with huge, bold, sweet maltiness rounded out by a prickly carbonation and lasting, dry finish that includes tinges of pear, mango, pine, orange peel and grapefruit. However, this definitely feels more in line with an American strong ale or, possibly even an American-style barleywine because the hops are not the real stars of the show here; indeed, candied sugar, honey and toffee malt aspects abound on the tongue, and, though the finish has a certain fruitiness and citric quality, it is certainly not the majority of the palate.
This is certainly a sipper, but it has so much flavor and complexity that it feels easier to drink, which is, as many craft beer nerds know, dangerous. I appreciate that this wasn’t marketed as a “triple IPA,” because I feel like once you get past about 10 percent, the IPA label ceases to be relevant or descriptive in any meaningful way. Instead, for Molotov Cocktail, Evil Twin chose to market this as a regular-ol’ imperial IPA with a high ABV number denoted on it. Lacing as this drinks is spotty but cool when it happens, with the clean and approachable (yet utterly drowned) hop aspects achieving solid patterning in the glass. Temperature seems to turn this beer a bit volatile, as straight out of the fridge, it’s much, much more perceivedly hoppy with a biting resinous backbone, and now it feels a lot sweeter; nearly cloyingly so. The residual sweetness combined with the rather drying finish might turn some people off, but I think this is very successful at its MO; make an IPA and dial up the malt big time until the beer drinks totally differently than expected … and then, up the hops so they numb the palate after each sip. It’s a delicate game despite the seemingly wild pitch that’s thrown here. In addition, the price was absolutely nice! Cheers to Evil Twin! I hope to drink and review more soon!
The official breakdown:
- Style: American Double / Imperial IPA (*cough basicallyabarleywine cough*)
- ABV: 13%
- Appearance: Pretty gorgeous golden orange with a cap of pristine white foam that lasts for the entirety of the glass. Solid lace, lazy bubbles
- Scent: Candied orange peel, light mint, grapefruit, pine, solvent alcohol, caramel/toffee sweetness, pineapple
- Taste: A big hit of pineapple, pear and caramel wrapped around a backbone of pine-y hops and delicately-charred malt; honey and oily hop resin. Sweetness is in the front/middle
- Mouthfeel: A bit slick with a massaging carbonation that has a quick half-life, becoming rather lazy and drawn-out near the middle
- Drinkability: Well, it’s really strong, so there’s that. That said, watch yourself when drinking this. It sneaks up on you, but it’s very clean