I love IPAs. I love barrel-aged beers. I have not been crazy about barrel-aged IPAs.
I think my biggest issue with oak-aged IPAs is that for my palate, the flavor profiles work against each other to a detriment. I love rich, hoppy aroma/flavor, but it’s essentially competing for the same taste buds as the vanilla-oak of the aging process. To me, it’s easy to get sweet and alcohol flavors from both and they just end up beating each other up.
Phlux Capacitor may have slightly changed my opinion.
I was initially impressed with the smell because I was actually able to get an array of different notes, especially the fact that for the first time, a barrel-aged beer actually enhanced the primary characteristic of the brew in question. In this case, I felt like the oak did service to the citrus flavor of the hop, filling my nostrils with hearty wood and notes of orange and lemon zest. Normally for a barrel-aged beer, I don’t care as much because thick impressions of vanilla/bourbon/etc. mix well with porters, stouts or anything of that nature. But with this beer, it only seemed to make it sweeter. At times I got confused whether I was smelling oak or the hops … and that was good. I was also able to easily discern chocolate (probably from the wood) and caramel (from great balancing of the malt/hops).
In order of flavors, I was able to find a chocolate malty sweetness (more of that great balance), then the oak from the barrel and then piney bitterness from the hops. This was a combination superior to what I found from Great Divide’s oak-aged double IPA, which seemed to rely more on oak than anything else. With Terrapin’s version, I’m easily able to find the hoppy IPA characteristics and the oak flavors, which adds up to a very smooth, high ABV beer. Honestly, at 9.8 percent, I don’t know if I was able to ever really tell whether or not the alcohol was impacting my ability to taste the beer. That’s a really good thing.
Hit the jump for my Rate That Beer sheet.