Words and photography by Darren TYNAN
It’s arguably one of the most bitter and intense Imperial IPA’s commercially available, and with a name like 1000 IBU – a theoretical figure which refers to the beer’s ‘international bittering units’, it’s a beer marketed at pure hop heads and beer geeks alike.
For those not familiar with beer styles, an IPA, or India Pale Ale, is a style of beer that you might think of as a variation of a Pale Ale, with an emphasis on hop character. While American and English style IPA’s can be vastly different, there has been a trend among some American brewers to truly push the envelope and cram as much hop flavour, bitterness and aroma into a beer as possible.
This is Danish microbrewery Mikkeller’s tribute to the power of the hop, carrying all the weight of a heavy-hitting boxer. It’s only brewed once a year and has strictly limited availability in WA, but I can assure you it isn’t a lacklustre affair in any way.
Sitting down to savour this 9.6% hop monster, I had a feeling I was some kind of hop-masochist, but who was I kidding? I knew exactly what I was in for. The beer pours a hazy amber/orange-red colour, has excellent head retention and lacing on the glass. The aroma does not fully inform the immense hop character this beer has, and implies a nice malty sweetness. This surprised me, considering that I was expecting a more ‘unbalanced’ beer without this kind of pleasant malty character.
Then the flavour comes in ruinous waves, like a hop avalanche that assaults the taste buds. The first sip is intensely bitter, but soon the palate becomes accustomed to the complexity of flavours and you crave for another sip. Pine, resin and citrus flavours are married perfectly with a big bold bitterness and a long aftertaste. But what really impressed me about this beer was how surprisingly balanced it was. There’s a lovely biscuit/caramel sweetness to this beer, which seems to shine in the aftertaste, lingering around and seducing the senses for another sip.
The bitterness is very firm but isn’t at all acrid. I found the alcohol to be blended very well and the hops ‘sizzle’ on the tongue with a medium to full-bodied mouthfeel. This beer isn’t as inaccessible as one may think either, although I may have the bias as a self-confessed hop lover.
This isn’t a beer for closed-minded drinkers; it’s a purely experimental creation, and one which coincides with Mikkeller’s vision: To brew beer that ‘challenges people’s taste buds – whether it’s in a bitter, spicy, sour or fruity manner’.
Don’t let the title fool you either; it’s pure novelty and aims to be controversial. Mikkel from Mikkeller even released a statement to enraged beer connoisseurs, stating that he intended for 1000 IBU to not just be a gimmick, but a beer that tests limits in brewing. ‘We do know about the difference in theory and actual measures and never stated to have brewed a beer with an actual IBU of 1000’, he also reminded.
Overall, this is a beer that’s as novel as it is exceptional. I’m glad I’ve ticked this one off my IPA bucket list, but is it worth the $22.99 price tag for a single 375ml stubby? There are plenty of intensely flavoured IPAs to try that are much cheaper than this one; Green Flash Brewing’s Palate Wrecker or Sierra Nevada’s Hoptimum to name two. However, if you’re still searching for the final hop-frontier after those two and love big, bold and ‘in your face’ beers, this one is for you.
Mikkeller’s 1000 IBU is available to order online and in-store from the International Beer Shop in West Leederville, Western Australia.