Class Is in Session
A Review of Single Hop Imperial IPA: Centennial by Flying Dog Brewing Co.
Posted on 1/16/2013 by Chops
Ah yes, the single hop Imperial IPA, one of the best educational tools in all of craft beer. If you ever want to study what different hop varieties bring to the table, then line up a bunch of single hop IPAs and get to work. Many breweries have caught the single hop buzz and have started producing their versions. But, many fall short because they strive to obtain balance by default. These beers are not meant to be balanced. They're meant to be hop assaults, bitter bombs, all out attacks on the senses. How else are you going to know what a Centennial hop adds to a beer if it doesn't jump out of said beer and slap you in the face? Flying Dog understands this, which is why I always get excited when they release their versions. Today I get to try the 2012 release of their Centennial Single Hop Imperial IPA. I really enjoyed last year's version, so let's see how it stacks up.

In the glass, this beer has a lightly hazy honey golden coloration. It comes with a frothy white head that has good retention. On the nose, I found a sweet candied citrus with an under layer of piney hops. To be honest, the aroma reminds me of those gummy orange slice candies. I was quite surprised (and pleased) by this because I immediately knew I was in for a new experience. Did Flying Dog tweak the recipe? Maybe heavier on the malt side? Some lengthy dry hopping? Hmm, questions and more questions. Let's dive right in and seek some answers.

Mouthfeel. That's hands down the biggest difference. Last year I was greeted with a tangy smooth nectar. This year I have a syrupy sticky version that coats your mouth in a thick layer of hoppy goodness. The beer has a solid medium body that you can really sink your teeth into. But in an amazing swing, the beer finishes dry with an airy piney bitterness that seems to linger forever. What? Very cool, very weird, and endless fascinating.

On the flavor side, I found a big dose of sweet orange-like citrus, which is pretty typical for the Centennial hop variety. The hop bite is restrained by the body, creating a surprisingly balanced flavor profile. There is a slight alcohol burn that resides as an under layer and never gets in the way (warning: that's a very well hidden 10% ABV). Resting in between is a malty caramel sweetness that adds a faint maple syrup like quality.

Overall, the 2012 version of Flying Dog's Centennial Single Hop Imperial IPA is a delicious brew with a syrupy bite. I greatly enjoyed this experience and I'm confident that any hop head or imperial fan will as well. It should go without saying that this beer is too big for novices, so best to hone that beginner palate with Flying Dog's reliable core line (Snake Dog IPA is especially tasty). It was a lot of fun getting to contrast and compare different versions of this imperial beast and I will look forward to this craft beer adventure every year. After all, that's one of the primary draws of the craft beer movement: an ever changing landscape. I tip my drinking hat to Flying Dog for another delicious educational tool. Cheers!

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Single Hop Imperial IPA: Centennial by Flying Dog Brewing Co.
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