Beerstitution Volume 37: DIPA

Beer Ye! Beer Ye!

Double IPA is a theme that I’ve wanted to host for a while now. I was waiting for the perfect storm of low-mid attendance and enthusiasm to revisit IPAs and lo and behold, November provided that perfect storm. A perfect imperial storm… 

Double (or Imperial/IIPA) India Pale Ales (IPAs) have been around for about 15 years or so, originating out of West Coast USA. A DIPA can resemble everything from a Pale Ale to a Barleywine, from 60 to 120 IBU, and from pale to black in colour. Unlike barley wines, which also have a high ABV, the balance is heavily towards the hops, with crystal and other malts providing support.

It’s been said that DIPAs are India Pale Ales on steroids. Although open to interpretation, expect something robust, malty, alcoholic and with a hop profile that might rip your tongue out. The Imperial usage comes from Russian Imperial stout, a style of strong stout originally brewed in England for the Russian Imperial Court of the late 1700s; though Double IPA is often the preferred name.

The first ever known DIPA was brewed by Vinnie Cilurzo at the now defunct Blind Pig Brewery in Southern California. It was called Inaugural Ale, and brewed in 1994. He says, of this first DIPA ever brewed: “Our equipment was pretty antique and crude, so I wanted to start out with something that was big and, frankly, could cover up any off flavors.” The beer contained between 6.5% and 7% alcohol by volume and Cilurzo calculated it at about 100 IBU. It was aged on oak chips for nine months and served on the brewery’s first anniversary. He had special glasses made for the occasion, with the ingredients printed on the side. He described it as a “double IPA.” Vinnie Cilurzo left Blind Pig to brew at Russian River Brewing in northern California, owned at the time by Korbel (the sparkling wine producer). When Korbel decided to get out of the brewing business, Natalia and Vinnie Cilurzo bought the brand name and opened a brewpub in Santa Rosa, later a production brewery. Cilurzo continues to brew Russian River IPA, but revived Blind Pig IPA after moving to Santa Rosa. Some may even consider this very first DIPA as the father of the one and only Pliny the Elder.

Hops & ABV

As the style originated on the West Coast, high alpha acid hops from the larger Pacific/Northwest region are typically associated with the style; however, any hops can essentially be used. It really depends on what you’re trying to achieve. Bitterness units range tend to hover around 100 IBUs.

It’s said that once an IPA reaches the 7-plus percent alcohol by volume (ABV) range, it’s entered Double IPA turf. The ABV level for DIPAs generally begins at 7.5% but is more commonly in the 8.0%+ range

Basically, a Double IPA should be hop-centric and assertive both in aroma and flavour, and have a higher alcohol content than a standard IPA (not “double,” per se, just higher)

These usually use double or even triple the typical amount of hops, but also add more malts to balance. The resulting beer has huge hoppy highs and deep malty depths with an high ABV to match


The Beers

Brasseurs du Monde – Houblonnière DIPA [Jones]

  • Big juice! Sweet, and bitter but not lingering. This is a refresher, a great session beer with big flavours that don’t punch you in the face

BRSTº Rating: 3.5/5

Riverbend – Double IPA [Marian]

  • A little sweet malt, a nice balanced booze hit & an all round good beer.

BRSTº Rating: 3/5

Brasserie Les 2 Frères – Hickson Imperiale IPA [Sergio]

  • Pretty good, not a huge fan of the big malt. Regular Hickson or the Hickson NEIPA has much more to write home about.

BRSTº Rating: 3/5

Microbrasserie Lion Bleu – IIPA [Nick]

  • A lot of everything, nothing stands out exponentially but a very good even beer. Little fruit, medium linger…

BRSTº Rating: 4/5

Brasserie Gainsbourg – Serie Road Trip Double IPA (Simcoe) [Gen]

  • Good fruit/bitter mix. You can really taste the ABV too which I like. IBU55 on the label is a lie it seems. Even better as it warms up

BRSTº Rating: 3.5/5

Microbrasserie Vox Populi – Double Fruit Punch [Marie-Ève]

  • Very floral, like kissing Margaret Thatcher’s neck… and enjoying it.

BRSTº Rating: 3.5/5

Bières Jukebox – Double Distortion [Corey]

  • This is a big juicy fruity DIPA. Really big and lovely.

BRSTº Rating: 3.75/5


Best in Show (points): Microbrasserie Lion Bleu – IIPA

Winner of “Favourite Beer” vote: Brasseurs du Monde – Houblonnière DIPA (4/7 votes)

Sessionable: Brasseurs du Monde – Houblonnière DIPA (4/7 votes)

Favourite Label: Microbrasserie Lion Bleu – IIPA

Blind Test:

Marian – Abject Failure
Corey – 1st Choice
Sergio – Abject Failure
Gen – 1st Choice
Jones – 1st Choice
Marie-Ève – 1st Choice
Nick – Abject Failure

Memorable Quotes:

“I could eat stinky socks all day”
Corey – talking about Brett because he always talks about Brett

“The thing about Beerstitution ideas is that they often drown in beer”
Corey – speaking about BRSTO swag ideas

“Is there a Beerstitution soundtrack?”
Sergio – aaaaaand an idea is born!


‘Til next time!
That Guy from Beerstitution


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