This intense (and intensely rare) double IPA has been getting the big-ups from all comers of late, and to hear the Pacific Brew News gang in conversation about this one is to hear three grown men reduced to putty in this mighty beer’s hands. While they might find ways of getting down to Alpine, California to grab some – about an hour outside of San Diego, due east toward the hot SoCal desert – me, I had to beg my sister to bring me up a bottle, and she did so only because it was my birthday. (She brought me two, though – thanks Julie). ALPINE BREWING is developing a bit of a cult around their beers, with this one leading the recruitment efforts. I had to check my notes – I’d never had a serious tasting of an Alpine beer before, but I did have some in successive years at the Boonville Beer Festival. In 2006, it was something called “Willy Vanilly” (a vanilla pale ale, if I remember correctly), and in May of this year it was – whoa – PURE HOPPINESS. How about that? I called it “very good”. After enjoying a 22-oz. bottle of this last week, I’m prepared to back up that assertion.
PURE HOPPINESS has the fortune of straddling both the world of the tongue-bruising, intensely-hoppy Double IPA, and the world of the well-balanced, refreshing IPA. How they do it is their business, but it makes for a far more enjoyable beverage than I guess I’d counted on. (I was preparing myself for a PLINY THE ELDER-style beatdown). Much more thin than I expected, with less body than its Imperial IPA brethren. I like how well the 7.5% ABV is kept from being anything near overpowering, and how even with all these hops, Pure Hoppiness manages to be a balanced, very approachable microbrew. I’d serve it to family, friends, and the odd drunk off the street, not just my beer dork pals. Perhaps it’s a bit less remarkable than I expected. I do know that I have another bottle than will help me decide. For now, let’s go with 7.5/10.