Switchboard Operator
Trillium Brewing Company

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American Imperial IPA
Ranked #705
Ranked #6,395
4.39 | pDev: 6.83%
Trillium Brewing Company
Massachusetts, United States
Notes: Firestone Walker’s modified Burton Union system of primary fermentation in oak, utilized to produce their Double Barrel Ale, has long intrigued our brewing team. Working in collaboration with Barrelworks’ Master Blender, Jim Crooks, we applied this technique to a classic Trillium recipe with the addition of California-sourced Clairette Blanche grape juice.

Switchboard Operator started with a primary fermentation in a combination of 500L neutral puncheons and new 200L Firestone Walker American oak casks. In comparison to our standard cylindroconical fermentation, a pronounced fruit-forward ester profile was created by a combination of lower hydrostatic pressure, natural temperature rise and unique connections of these comparatively smaller oak vessels. Generous additions of our hand-selected Citra hops were layered into the boil kettle, whirlpool, and dry hop to drive home the distinctive traits of this favorite varietal.

This Double IPA pours a soft orange color with an inviting heavy haze. A bouquet of tropical and citrus fruit immediately greets the nose. Fresh pineapple, orange juice, and passion fruit lead the way, with a mix of stone fruit and a bright white wine character washing across the back of the palate. A creamy mouthfeel, gentle carbonation, and crisp bitterness round out each sip.

Malt: Pilsner Malt, Flaked Wheat, C-15

Hops: Citra

Additional Ingredients: Clairette Blanche Juice
Reviews: 5 | Ratings: 18 | Log in to view all ratings and sort
Photo of SierraNevallagash
4.61/5  rDev +5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Big thanks to Matt for sending this one, and so many others, I have honestly lost count at this point.

Pint can - dated - poured into a flared ale pint at 45°F.

Pours an ultra pale oaty yellow that is just about as turbid as can be. Hardly any head forms, which rapidly reduces to absolutely nothing - not even a collar. The occasional bubble can be seen rising from the bottom of the glass.

Nose: Tropical dry hopped notes galore. If this didn't have the whole Clairette Blanche addition, I would almost assume this was a Nelson-hopped IPA, but perhaps the wine grape addition is misleading me. Tons of white grape, passionfruit, kiwi, fresh wet grass, green herbaceous notes, lychee, guava, papaya, and tropical melon. Maybe a touch of dankness, but I wouldn't be comfortable calling it an earthiness. Some strawberry-kiwi, and African pineapple in the mix as well. I would guess there's a heavy dose of Citra. I get zero Simcoe, Mosaic, Galaxy, or Amarillo notes, which are the most likely candidates with Trillium. Nelson or Citra, one of the two.

Palate: The beer greets the palate with a grainy pale malt sweetness that is just so much more restrained and balanced than I anticipated, given the ABV and grape addition. Tons of melon, white grape, lychee, papaya, pineapple, passionfruit, and green leafy resins just flood the palate, flowing back and forth from ripe tropical fruit to pithy, resinous herbaceous greenery. A juicy acidity cuts though the already balanced sweetness, before the pithy hop resins just break it down even more. I get a very organic white grape character that randomly peeks through, and doesn't constantly stick with the rest of the flavour profile. This note has a bunch of actual graoe skin flavour, which lends a subtle chalky tannic dryness. The finish is very pithy, very resinous, and purely hoppy, with a touch of bitterness, and a touch of grain, particularly wheat. Quite drying, with zero lingering sweetness, and absolutely zero indication of its respectable 9.5% ABV. Edit: Now that it has warmed up, near the end of the finish, I absolutely, 100% get a stark ripe grape component.

Mouthfeel/Body: I am having a very hard time understanding how this beer hides the alcohol so well. At nearly 10%, it isn't even full-bodied. It's squarely in medium-bodied territory, and it's just absolutely, delightfully crisp and refreshing. I hate the word "quaffable", and I certainly wouldn't sit down and start quaffing multiple 9.5% ABV beers, but if there's any IPA that begs to be quaffed, it's this one. I wouldn't, but I could seriously quaff a few of this like nothing I've ever quaffed before. I'm not sure I even HAVE quaffed before, but if I had to start quaffing now, this would be the beer to quaff. Crisp, fluid, and no fluffiness or creamy texture. A slight bit of rough graininess, which to me, feels like malted wheat, and an aggressively pithy and drying finish that just begs you to take the next sip. Effervescence is average and typical for a New England IPA, and adds a touch of airiness.

Overall: I didn't expect to enjoy this for some reason. The fact that I did, just proves how genuinely impressed I am with this. I cannot quite make out the line between qualities lent by the hops, and qualities lent by the grapes, but either way, this is a very unique IPA. Any fans of Nelson hops are sure to enjoy this, and while I don't specifically think white wine grapes while sipping (quaffing) this, it definitely has that spirit of Nelson Sauvin with those "sauvignon blanc" hoppy notes, and I can absolutely tell that there's something in here that truly sets it apart from the standard New England IPA. This next statement is extremely subjective, but - this may be the best IPA I've had to-date. That's saying a lot, because I had many, including several of "the best". If you, the reader, have any opportunity to try this, I suggest you do.

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Photo of Damian
4.71/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.75

Drank from a 1 pint can purchased at Trillium Brewing Company, Boston, MA
Canned on 01/07/20
Served in a tulip

Cloudy pale straw yellow appearance. The nearly opaque body was topped by a fleeting film of off-white bubbles. A few tiny patches of lacing stuck along the glass.

The aroma was fantastic. Super dank and musty with big white grape notes. Fresh cannabis came to mind. Sugary sweet canned peaches too. Ripe mango was also apparent. Bit of passion fruit as well. As the beer warmed, the nose became sweeter, fruitier and all around punchier. The white grape notes really intensified.

The flavor profile was fantastic as well. White grape again came through big time. Sweet and slightly musty. A dessert-style Riesling came to mind. Lots of dank cannabis too. Canned peaches were also apparent, along with juicy, ripe mangos. Pineapple and tangerine were noticeable in the center. White grapefruit appeared on the back end and carried into the finish. Pithy and slightly bitter grapefruit rind-like notes lingered after the swallow.

Fantastic fluffy mouthfeel. Medium bodied for the style. The liquid contained a super fine, somewhat zippy effervescence that turned creamy and smooth on the palate.

I am a big fan of all the beers in Trillium’s Dialed In series, but this collaboration offshoot was perhaps even more impressive. The Clairette Blanche juice added some interesting complexity without overwhelming the base beer, and overall drinkability was off the charts. I had my doubts that Firestone Walker could bring anything noteworthy to Trillium’s hoppy beer portfolio, but I was mistaken.

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Photo of bsoares
4.74/5  rDev +8%
look: 4.75 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Canned 13 days ago.

A- Pours a hazy pale orange. Small half finger of head that fades very quickly and leaves no lacing.

S- Stone fruit sweetness combined with a earthy wine smell.

T- Follows the smell. Stone fruit sweetness. Mango, peaches, apricot, passion fruit, and nectarine. Dry finish that you would get in a white wine.

M- mild carbonation. Chalky meduim mouth feel.

O- I really enjoyed this beer. It is a very well done DIPA. You get some of the stone fruit sweetness combined with the earthy flavor and dry finish of a white wine.

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Photo of Holderness
4.12/5  rDev -6.2%
look: 3.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Canned 6 days ago.

L -- Hazy muted orange body with a finger of sudsy off-white head that quickly dissipates to nothing in the glass. Zero retention or lacing, in classic Trillium fashion
S -- Cattiness, pineapple, green onion, candied tropical fruit, light oaky character
T -- The same cattiness comes forward front-and-center on the flavors, alongside some white grape and pineapple character. Really tastes more like Galaxy than Citra here
F -- Medium mouthfeel, medium+ tongue-tickling carb. A bit watery around the edges
O -- Not too shabby, but I still definitely prefer the regular ol' Dialed In variants


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Photo of StoutElk_92
4.83/5  rDev +10%
look: 5 | smell: 5 | taste: 4.75 | feel: 4.75 | overall: 4.75

Pours cloudy opaque gold with a frothy white foam head. Smells fruity and delicious with some tropical fruit smoothie notes, pineapple, fresh orange, passionfruit, mango, some peach, stone fruit, subtle vanilla, caramelized pale malts, a hint of floral piney dankness, with white wine grape juice layered on top. Tastes like tropical citrusy stone fruits, some honey grain malts, white wine grape juice, vinous orchard fruit notes, with some floral piney dankness. Feels medium fuller bodied, creamy smooth with moderate low carbonation. Overall a really nice DIPA with Clairette Blanche juice.

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Switchboard Operator from Trillium Brewing Company
Beer rating: 92 out of 100 with 18 ratings