Leinenkugel Big Eddy Imperial IPA


We already know Leinenkugel can make a damn good Russian imperial stout, so what about an additional end of the beer spectrum?

Another entry into their “Big Eddy” series, Leinenkugel’s imperial IPA is good, but falls a bit short of what you might typically expect from an American imperial IPA.

But that might not necessarily be a bad thing, depending on the drinker. It’s got an 87 on Beer Advocate.

The hop aroma of this beer is sweet and pungent on first sniff – not far off from the intensity of Dogfish’s 120 Minute IPA. Big Eddy has a ton more noticeable fruity notes at the very front – orange peel, grapefruit, some lemon – and just a dash of pine. That’s thanks to the use of five strong-armed American hop varieties: Warrior, Cascade, Simcoe, Amarillo and Citra. There is plenty of malt on this beer’s nose, however, inspired by sweet, biscuity Munich and Caramel malts. Finally, the back-end of each sniff is infused with a hard citrus bite accompanied by smells of pineapple and mango. It’s impossible to miss the 8.2 percent ABV boozy aroma at the end.

10But it’s the flavor where this beer really stands out – for good or bad. The Big Eddy imperial IPA is most definitely fruity and bitter with a tropical, mango finish accompanied by cane sugar and bubble gum. However, the hop intensity found in the beer’s smell just doesn’t show up at all in the taste. I found pleasant hints of orange and a little pine, but the malt of this IPA goes toe-to-toe with the hops, something you rarely, if ever, see in an American IPA like this. Lots of bread-based sweetness from Munich and Caramel malts will do that to you.

The key here? Balance. Something you just don’t find with IPAs. What this means is if you’re a huge hop-head like me, skip this beer and stick to something from Sierra Nevada or Dogfish. If you’re a beer fan, but aren’t crazy about IPAs, this may be worth trying. The bitterness may be a bit rough at first, but ultimately the balance of malt and hops wins out and makes for a smooth, easy drinking experience.

Big Eddy IPA stats:

  • Malt: Munich, Caramel and Pale Ale
  • Hops: Warrior, Cascade, Simcoe, Amarillo and Citra
  • Adjuncts/Additives: N/A
  • ABV: 8.2 percent
  • Brewery: Leinenkugel Brewing Company of Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin

+Bryan Roth
“Don’t drink to get drunk. Drink to enjoy life.” — Jack Kerouac


4 thoughts on “Leinenkugel Big Eddy Imperial IPA

  1. I don’t think I’ve had this one. I’ve definitely had the Big Eddy RIS and it is indeed superb (it’s the RIS that changed my mind about RIS and made me love them!). I’ll have to check this one out.

    Even better, I’m sure I can talk Limpd into buying a four pack since (a) he’s always on the lookout for something new and (b) he is a Leiney fan. Well, not the Summer Shandy. Ask him about his Chicago experience with the Summer Shandy. Nothing like getting the condescending experience from a bartender after ordering a beer. And there was also something about the bartender questioning his manhood. He tells the story much better.

    1. I never knew Leinenkugel made worthwhile beer until last year at a Wisconsin beer festival. Until then, I would’ve probably also made fun of Limpd for ordering such a drink.

      Who am I kidding? I’m sure I’d do it now, too. Next time balance it out by ordering the Shandy as a chaser for some whiskey. With nails in it. And on fire.

      It’d be a fun experiment to taste test the Big Eddy IPA with people who aren’t IPA fans. I really think once you get past the ABV it’s a pretty unoffending version of the style. I guess something like All Day IPA might give more hop character with less “off putting” aspects like bitterness or booze, but I don’t think I’ve found an IPA like this one that relies so much on classic malt flavors.

  2. I need to give Leinenkugel a chance now. I have a couple in the fridge. I am curious about this because I have been cursing the hop bombs lately. I would have expected more tropical fruit from the hops added.

    1. There were definitely plenty of hop characteristics, but the malt choice was a bit unique for an imperial IPA. I found it funny the transition between flavors of an IPA and something akin to a hoppy amber ale.

      Either way, it’s most definitely worth a try. If only because it’s a novel take on what I always just assume should be a hop bomb.

      Hope you enjoy it, too – cheers!

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