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Imperial IPA - Anderson Valley Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Imperial IPAImperial IPA

Educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

591 Ratings

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Ratings: 591
Reviews: 332
rAvg: 3.82
pDev: 11.78%
Wants: 28
Gots: 28 | FT: 0
Brewed by:
Anderson Valley Brewing Company visit their website
California, United States

Style | ABV
American Double / Imperial IPA |  8.70% ABV

Availability: Fall

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: largadeer on 02-16-2008

Formerly known as 20th Anniversary Imperial IPA
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 591 | Reviews: 332
Photo of Sammy
3.51/5  rDev -8.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Bottle of a unique IPA, at Beer Bistro. More malty than hoppy though hops there an abundance. Orange colour, strange soapy aroma. Drinkable, lacey, not like any DIPA, more of a complex malt treat. Apparently 20 different malts used, and just a lot of West Coast hop.
Their regular DIPA Better than their 20th anniversary ale, this is a mellow DIPA, lots of malt profile and grapefruit taste clearly in aroma as well.Good drinkability though not in the top DIPA class.

Photo of t0rin0
3.75/5  rDev -1.8%

Photo of spycow
4/5  rDev +4.7%

Photo of UCLABrewN84
4.3/5  rDev +12.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.5

Pours a clear light orange with a 2 puffy inch whitish-orange head that settles to a thin cap. Foamy swaths of lace line the glass on the drink down. Smell is of grapefruit and some pineapple, citrus zest, and malt aromas. Taste is of grapefruit/citrus fruits, citrus zest, and a malty brown sugar finish. The bitterness on this one is fairly mild but sticks around on the palate after each sip. This beer is crisp and slightly sticky in the mouth. Overall, this is a very good DIPA with a nice balance between the hops and a nice brown sugar malty flavor. Almost like a very hoppy barleywine in my opinion.

Photo of zestar
4/5  rDev +4.7%

Photo of GRG1313
2.84/5  rDev -25.7%
look: 4 | smell: 2.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 2.5

Dark golden orange amber with a white/yellowish head.

Nose of cooked carmel fruited whiskey. Lots of "whiskey character" in the nose. Also assertive alcohol in the nose (the "sweet smell" of assertive alcohol that can be confused with a fruity character). Nose is deceiving since what many may find pleasant is actually an assertive sweet smell of pure alcohol.

Medium/full mouthfeel with nice carbonation but the flavor profile simply is not pleasant and over rides everything.

Big malty fruit carmel very front to a nice malt/hop middle but then immediately to a heavy droopy bitter middle/end palate that goes to an off bitter pine finish.

This one is simply does not have good flavor integration in my opinion. The individual flavor profiles are good; just not put together well. The beer seems to have too many personalities, none of which stands out well. Unpleasant long heavy bitter pine finish.

Some may like this as it appears as a big flavorful beer. I believe it's deceiving and really not very attractive; or, it's just not my style.

Photo of nmann08
4/5  rDev +4.7%

Photo of Thorpe429
3.65/5  rDev -4.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Reviewed from notes.

Pours a bright gold with a touch of orange. Nice white head and some lacing as it goes down. Nose brings forward a bit of sweet, bready malt as well as a good dose of citrus hops, mostly grapefruit with a bit of orange peel. Taste brings hops and a good dose of bitterness, but is just a bit off. Some malt in the background. A bit of booze in there as well, which affects both the taste and the mouthfeel. Seems overly such for a (relatively) low alcohol beer for the style. Drinks fairly well but not my favorite.

Photo of metter98
3.73/5  rDev -2.4%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: The beer is clear copper in color and has a moderate amount of visible carbonation. It poured with a finger high dense beige head that died down but never completely faded away.
S: There are light to moderate aromas of citrusy hops in the nose.
T: Like the smell, the taste is dominated by flavors of citrus from the hops and has a light amount of bitterness. There are some hints of malty sweetness in the initial taste and hints of alcohol in the finish.
M: It feels medium-bodied and smooth on the palate with a moderate amount of carbonation.
O: The beer definitely tastes strong, but isn’t that difficult to drink for the style because there is a good balance in the flavors between malts and hops.

Photo of olradetbalder
3.5/5  rDev -8.4%

Photo of brentk56
3.68/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: The crystal clear amber liquid is covered by an impressive head; the retention is good, as well, and it leaves some clumps of foam behind

Smell: Fairly balanced, with the sugary malts combining with the hops to produce a tropical fruit character

Taste: Very sweet, up front, with lots of sugary malt providing caramel flavors; initially, the tropical fruit elements of minty pineapple and citrus converge but by mid-palate, the beer gets very bitter, with the high alpha acids doing their thing; with the big malt character, however, the sweetness returns to provide a rather sticky finish

Mouthfeel: Full bodied with moderate carbonation; sticky and somewhat hot

Overall: I guess you could say that this is a balanced DIPA but as I prefer more hops and less sticky malts, it does not rank among my favorites of the style

Photo of BEERchitect
3.63/5  rDev -5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3.5

I consider this brewery to be a master of the IPA's. This beer takes on a flavor profile that reminds me a lot of their Hop Ottin' IPA, but there's a lot more to it. The beer begins with a golden-rust color, and pours quite viscous with an unrelenting head formation and retention. Some haziness indicates the typical dry-hopping. Aromas are very plump and juicy with C-hops and perhaps a Willamette thrown in for a spicy, floral, piney note. Caramel malts give a lot of sweetness to the nose along with a strong alcoholic scent. Flavors of the malts come through with a less than fully attenuated sweetness that later weighs heavy. The hops are very sharp and citrusy, but delivering all the flavor that the nose promised. Flavors also take on a mineraly, salty, metalic note that is amplified by alcohols and hop bite-- a little astringent late. Textures are heavy, malty, and full but with some fusals going on. Do you lay it down and let the alcohols cool and risk loosing the hops? Tough call. The beer finishes with a long dry lingering with resiny hops and soft caramel flavors. A worthy Anniversary Ale but those alcohols and sweetness kinda get in the way.

Photo of Phyl21ca
3.8/5  rDev -0.5%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Bottle: Poured a clear light copper color ale with a large pure white foamy head with good retention and some great lacing. Aroma of bitter hops with some notes of citrusy hops and some floral undertones. Taste is also very well balance between bitter and citrus hops with some good floral notes and a very solid dry caramel malt backbone. Average body for the style with good carbonation and no apparent alcohol. Nothing extraordinary but solid take on the style.

Photo of Knapp85
3.35/5  rDev -12.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3

This one poured out pretty nice lookin with a golden color and a foamy white head on top. The smell of the beer had a good citrusy hop aroma to it. The taste of the beer though I thought was a little in the weak side. I was surprised by how the smell was so good but the taste just wasn't there for me. The mouthfeel was pretty crisp and light. Overall just really bummed about the taste. Other than that it was pretty good.

Photo of BuckeyeNation
3.28/5  rDev -14.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3 | feel: 4 | overall: 3

Electric apricot with a fine yeasty haze. Given what's in the bottom of the bottle, the beer should become significantly murky on future pours. The three finger crown is a looker. It's French vanilla in color, with small splashes of orange and lemon juice. It's also incredibly sticky and is plastering the glass with gobs of soon-to-be-crusty lace.

The aroma is semi-bright and citrus fruity, but is too subdued. It's hard for a DIPA to smell radiantly bright because of the leveling effect of all the malt. I'll go with almost exclusively pale malt and assorted American hops (that includes at least one of the 4-Cs). Anything more specific will require the taste buds.

20th Anniversary Imperial IPA commits a few of the cardinal sins of the DIPA style. First of all, there isn't anywhere near enough hoppiness. Bitterness isn't a problem (100 IBUs), but alpha acids don't get it done on their own. The whole purpose of hoppy beer is to taste the hops!

Second of all, the alcohol is too prominent and is a little too raw-edged and hot. I *might* be able to excuse it at an ABV of 10.7%, but 8.7%? Not a chance. That's pretty much it for the negatives, although those are some pretty big-ass negatives if you ask me. And you must have, since you're reading this review.

The beer may have started out a little on the cool side (estimated 55 degrees). It's hard to figure why breweries insist on recommending consumption temperatures for big beer that are way too low. This one is supposed to be served between 40 and 45 degrees. What the hell?! Hoppy beer that cold is bound to be excessively bitter. Having said all that, warming isn't doing much to help the flavor profile...

... which is made up of sugar cookies soaked in sugar syrup and grain alcohol, crushed aspirin and bitter orange peel. Age can't be a factor since the first review was just three months ago. Time is only going to make things worse since the hops will fade from barely present to gone without a trace.

The body/mouthfeel is quasi-chewy and heavyweight silky, without being gummy or sticky. Actually, it's right about where it should be for a beer of this style. A quiescent feel to the carbonation helps as well.

AVBC 20th Anniversary Imperial IPA has an impressive name, an impressive label and an impressive bottle cap. The contents of the bottle, though, leave more than a little to be desired. I hope this offering isn't a casualty of the hop shortage. Anderson Valley is capable of much better beer than this.

Photo of westcoastbeerlvr
2.5/5  rDev -34.6%

Photo of mikesgroove
4.25/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 5

So I received this one as an extra in a trade recently, which was awesome, as I was going to go out and buy it this weekend, so that worked out well. I was excited to try it not only because it was an Anniversary edition, and an IIPA, but I have had pretty good luck with Anderson Valley in the past so let us see where this one will bring us. The pour was very nice with a deep rich amber color coming forward, lots of cloudiness and haze with even a touch of sediment rolling through on this one as well. A nice three finger high head of off white colored foam then rose up over the top and had some really nice staying power, really only coming down after a few minutes, and even then, it left behind a good amount of side glass lace in its wake. Overall a very nice looking big IPA.

The aroma was highly hopped as I would have expected, with rich deep notes of floral hops coming through very clearly here. Very nice well-rounded hop profile on the nose with hints of orange and tangerine mixed in with some nice sugary notes as well, really letting it pull itself up quite nicely. Definitely, a good amount of sweetness in there as it really was beginning to show nicely as it warmed up. The flavor followed through on this very nicely. Sometimes these big west coast IPA's can be a little too big, not in this case though, as this was very nicely done and really well balanced and put together. A good amount of floral hoppiness was evident on the first taste. A nice bit of orange and sweet tangerine like flavors delivering the first punch, but more sweet then bitter. A nice unfolding malt tone in the background, did not dominate, but assuredly, you could tell it was there. Really nice presence here all around with fresh aromatic flavors being the norm. Nice medium body and a super smooth feel. The carbonation was very well done, again nothing being over blown here. No hint of alcohol, which was nice and made this considerably smoother then it could have been. I easily polished off this bottle with dinner without much of an effort, which was really nice to be honest. I would have loved to have had more, as this was definitely a solid offering and a really nicely done brew.

Overall, I thought this was really well put together. Nothing mind blowing mind you, however really just well crafted and very well balanced big IPA. It had those sticky piney resin like moments though, do not get me wrong, however I just thought it was incredibly drinkable and really nice with dinner. There is no doubt I would go for this one again. A quality offering for sure.

Photo of womencantsail
3.68/5  rDev -3.7%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

A: A clear golden amber color with a thin layer of head and some minimal carbonation and some lacing.

S: Very citrusy, mostly orange with plenty of sweet caramel malt. Maybe some pineapple as well.

T: Not much bitterness to this one, mostly the fruits mentioned above. Lots of sweetness from the fruit flavors and lots of maltiness, not what you would usually expect from a CA IIPA.

M: Good body, not any carbonation to speak of.

D: A good tasting beer and no huge flaws to speak of.

Photo of largadeer
3.1/5  rDev -18.8%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

Appearance - Bottle conditioned in a 22 oz bomber. The beer itself is bright, clear amber with a frothy off-white head and an impressive stream of rising bubbles. The head retains incredibly well, leaving behind sheets of sticky lace as the glass empties.

Smell - Very hoppy and fresh. Aromas of fresh herbs, cut grass and lemons. Slightly medicinal. A hint of malt appears once the beer has warmed a bit.

Taste & mouthfeel - Pretty rough upon first impression. A semi-sweet malt foundation struggles to make itself known amidst the herbal, medicinal hop flavor. The bottle conditioning provides a soft and pleasant carbonation, but that's the only good thing I can say about the mouthfeel. Noticeable alcohol and sticky, astringent hops cling to the palate in the finish, making this a pretty tiring beer to finish.

Notes - A great looking beer with a fairly pleasant aroma, but it falls apart after that. Decent at best.

Photo of oberon
3.82/5  rDev 0%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Poured a slight hazed peach color with a tight formed one finger white head that left some broken lace as it settled slowly,awesome aromas of citrus and underlying pine with some biscuit malt and alcohol showing through as well.T he flavors are bit heavy handed on the alcohol,it rears its head early and often,nice lemon and grapefruit hop flavors show through but its a battle with the alcohol.Its not a 'huge' beer but the alcohol is prevelent,in saying that its still a nice American DIPA from a great brewery.

Photo of ChainGangGuy
3.78/5  rDev -1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Appearance: Pours out a hazy, dark amber body with a medium-small, wispy, off-white head.

Smell: It's definitely not the ballsiest, most brash DIPA out there these days. Sweetish nose of pale malts with some slight hints of clover honey and basic bread team up with downright tame notes of florals and citrus and a saucer of booze.

Taste: Sweet thin coating of light caramel and honey atop a hefty pile of pale malted barley. Hint of golden raisin fruitiness. Pinch of spiciness and a modestly juicy, citrusy hop character with a medium-high level of bitterness plowing through the sweetness. Restrained floral undertones. Noted alcohol warmth on the dry, bitter finish.

Mouthfeel: Medium-plus body. Medium-light carbonation.

Drinkability: Ultimately, this one is simply just okay. It's a bit boozy, and lacking the vibrant hoppiness one would expect from such a celebratory brew.

Photo of biboergosum
4/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Bomber at BeerBistro.

This beer pours a hazy orangish-brown hue, with two fingers of foamy, creamy white head, which leaves a wall of lace around the glass as it slowly settles. It smells of bready caramel malt, and grapefruit hops. The taste is caramel/toffee malt, pine and blended citrus hops, and a bit of oily booze. The carbonation is on the low side, the body full, unctuous, and smooth, and it finishes consistent, the hops and toffee sweetness battling it out for Tokyo's fate to the end.

A nicely balanced IIPA, but still pretty big all around, with a touch of warming alcohol.

Photo of emerge077
4.05/5  rDev +6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

New arrival around town, decent price, let's try it.

Into a pub pint this pours a nice glowing orange, an unfiltered honey gold, with bright clarity. It's sticky crown laces intricately on the glass. It retains an island of skim that rekindles easily after each pour.

Sweet candied orange aroma, caramel malt, resiny herbals are in the minority. The orange dominates, but it's not all that pungent.

Very smooth feel, not too sweet or heavy. Minor stickiness on the lips. Not all that bitter for a double IPA, lush with somewhat sweet fruitiness, and bigger caramel toffee notes from the malts. Some residual herbal hop bitterness in the aftertaste, that builds on itself after each sip. Orange peel, pine, toffee, and caramel form the core of this DIPA. Easy going, not "melt your face off" like some more abrasive examples of the style. Lower carbonation, and very well hidden ABV. Sipping this is nice.

Photo of TMoney2591
3.95/5  rDev +3.4%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4

Served in a tumbler at The Tribes.

The Accidental Highway to Hell Tour continues! This stop pours a clear amber-straw topped by a finger of cream-white foam. The nose comprises pineapple, watermelon, cantaloupe, caramel, powdered sugar, lime, strawberry, mango, kiwi, and light pine. The massive fruitiness came as a bit of a surprise to me, but it somehow worked out very well. The taste holds notes of pineapple, pine, light menthol, light-ish toffee, light biscuit, honey, light strawberry, honeydew, lime, light lemon zest, light mandarin orange syrup, and light grass. The body is a light medium, with a very light moderate carbonation and an almost syrupy feel. Overall, a very nice DIPA, one that really shows how you can make a fruity, hoppy brew without going overboard on the hops and maintaining a general balance throughout.

Photo of NeroFiddled
4.05/5  rDev +6%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4

My bottle poured a somewhat hazy deep orange colored body beneath a full head of creamy off-white. Yeast is visible at the bottom of the glass so I wonder if I'd let it sit for longer, or maybe poured it more gently, it would be clear. To be honest, I don't really care. Cloudy beer is fine with me, and (bonus!) it's bottle conditioned. Anyway, the head retention is very good, and it leaves beautiful rings of creamy lace beneath thin curtains of Belgian lace at the outset of the glass. Beyond that, however, it lacks - which is a shame because a beer like this should really deliver more. Moving forward...

In the nose it's sweetish and floral, almost perfumey, and just lightly piney and citrusy. It's not as big as most "Imperial" IPA's, but it's good; and I appreciate that the malt comes through as well as the hops. No alcohol is noticeable, although there is a suggestion of it.

The flavor is more hoppy than the aroma suggests, and it's got the expected resinous character of a very hoppy beer, but beyond that it's pretty well tamed. Lots of pine comes out at first, and then some floral and mildly fruity notes. The biscuity and lightly caramelish malt underneath is clearly present, and it becomes part of the flavor experience rather than just acting as a spring-board for the hops. As you progress through the glass and it warms, the hops become more grassy and spicy, and it surprisingly exhibits very little of the citrus that most would expect of and American "Imperial" IPA. Unfortunately, some more of the alcohol shows as well.

As to drinkability, I look to the label for my answer - "for those wishing to savor high quality, flavorful and perfectly balanced beers" - I totally agree with that. Anderson Valley has always been about balanced beers, and this is no exception. It's not bombastic, but it IS balanced (considering it's an "Imperial" IPA). The hops are strong, and they do build on the palate, but they don't leave your palate blind after the first three or four sips. I enjoyed relaxing with a bottle of this, and finding it's greater breadth of character as it warmed. That would not have been possible tasting some of the other hop-bombs coming out of Cali. So, all in all, I found it pretty damned drinkable. I have one more bottle to enjoy, and I think I'll crack it open on the first really nice night of spring as the sun is going down and it's still warm with just a slight chill in the air coming in. And perhaps some Brie and toasty crackers might work as well.

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Imperial IPA from Anderson Valley Brewing Company
86 out of 100 based on 591 ratings.