Laughing Dog Brewing, Alpha Dog Imperial IPA

Grade: A-
Laughing Dog Brewing

I've often said that hops should be treated like wine grapes, certain varieties have certain characteristics. Some of these varieties can be blended together to create something greater than the sum of it's parts. Rarely however, can you mix a dozen different wine grapes together and produce a good wine. Alpha Dog, like any good cabernet or pinot noir, is the product of a knowledgeable and patient hand.

Laughing Dog Brewing's website immediately states that the reason for the brewery's existence was to fill the void of hoppy beers in America. Based in Idaho and founded only a few years ago in 2005, I think they have succeeded in their goal. This beer is a celebration of the hop, and unlike other IPAs that have a plethora of hop varieties added, this beer only has two. This isn't a detriment. The range of flavors the Columbus and Mt. Hood hops produce are much more developed and refined than if buckets of random hops were added.

Pours very clear, light golden straw with a creamy white head that looks like it's frozen in time. The hops immediately smack you in the face with aroma, to the point where you recoil in shock. Some herbal goodness, mixed with bright citrus, tangerine pineapple and grapefruit. There is earth in the nose as well, vegetal, almost garlicky. Some slight alcohol aromas come through after swirling around a bit, followed by a little bread and caramel.

Mouthfeel is in the medium-light range with a dry enough finish that I want another sip, but also a certain creaminess that gives this beer legs. The hops are present in such concentration in the flavor that the resin and citrus elements mimic sweetness. Hops are the name of the game here, but while they are solidly bitter, pungent in aroma, and ubiquitous in the flavor, the lighter body and mouthfeel deliver them in a very approachable manner. The flavors of tropical fruit, peach, and citrus are throughout. There are some more earthy and herbal parts to them as well, not to mention a solid and unapologetic bitterness. The aftertaste does carry some very slight metallic off-flavors, with some of the less desirable vegetal flavors.