Lagunitas Brewing Company – Petaluma, CA
The seventh entry, #19, on the 25 Beers of Christmas Countdown belongs on our list, if for no other reason, for the backstory involved. Seems in 2010, Lagunitas was preparing to brew its traditional holiday release (Brown Shugga, a malty strong ale), but realized that it would be impossible due to capacity and time issues at the still-growing brewery. They created Lagunitas Sucks!, a more quickly brewed and finished double IPA, as a “consolation” for the brewery’s loyal drinkers, and a legend was born.
Simply put, this is one of the best double IPAs on the market. It is both very hoppy, with a ton of grapefruit and citrus notes, orange and papaya, and highly bitter, which with a strong cracker and bread crust malt backbone makes for an extremely well-balanced brew. When consumed fresh, every sip of this beer is a revelation. It’s bold without obliterating the senses.
I recommend a tulip glass for this beer, though anything with an inward curve near the top of the glass will do. You really want the aroma to be trapped so those hop smells will nail you every time you lean in. Let the beer warm outside the fridge for about 10 minutes to get it away from that ice cold point, so all the aromas and flavors are released.
Double IPAs can be difficult for food pairing, simply because they can overwhelm a lot of foods with the hop flavor and especially with the bitterness. Think very spicy foods, which the bitterness can cut through, as good matches, such as Thai food, Indian food, etc. Spicy with citrus notes is even better, like hot orange or pineapple sauces or even curries. Jerk chicken and many Cajun preparations (blackened!) are also great partners for these beers.
Lagunitas began its major eastward expansion with the addition of a brewing facility in Chicago, Illinois a couple years ago, and is now starting to show up in most markets, including my home state of Arkansas, which is usually the last to get anything. The aforementioned Brown Shugga, an American Strong Ale, and A Little Sumpin’ Sumpin’ Ale, an American Pale Ale, are both excellent examples of their brews.
JAB - 12/7/15