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Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Full Sail Slipknot

At four ounces last night, my review of Full Sail's Slipknot (a Brewmaster Reserve Seasonal) was going to read something like this:
"It has the classic IPA character--a cloudy golden brew bubbling with citrusy hop aroma, but ultimately a beer like so many others. It's very tasty, but somehow hard to distinguish from the 37 other IPAs I had this year."
But by eight ounces (I'm working in approximations here), it had warmed a little, opened up, and revealed a few of its hidden secrets. I ended up with an entirely different impression.

To back up a bit, Slipknot is an "imperial IPA," a new designation that is meant to indicate strength and heft and generally excite beer drinkers. I think it muddies the water, especially when you're already talking about a big style of beer. Imperial stouts are more than twice as strong as Irish stouts--here "imperial" communicates something. But with Slipknot, we have a relatively hoppy (though not super hoppy) 7.8% beer. Back in the day (1997), we'd have called it an IPA. Let's dispense with the profligate "imperializing" of everything, shall we?

Okay, back to Slipknot. The aroma, to add to the description above, springs out of the glass. Citrus is the central aroma, but has a delicate blossom quality, too--it's a surprisingly fresh-smelling beer. As I mentioned, it starts indistinctly--tasty, but not something you think you could pull out of a line-up. As it warmed, though, the hop notes deepened and I picked up strong black pepper notes and a kind of resinous "cattiness" (which in this case was a good thing). There are plenty of residual sugars, which bouy the beer as you go along--the bitterness never threatens to overwhelm the palate. A winner.

Rating: Good (first few ounces) then excellent.

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