This Imperial IPA from Maryland brewery Stillwater first got my attention because of the label design. It looked more like a Crispy Ambulance record cover than a beer label. It sent me some sort of message that this was not shooting to be another "I dare you" to a beardo walking his dog down to the coffee house. It seemed to be something different.
Pouring hazy amber in color with a modest and creamy head, aromas start wafting through the air once it settles into the glass. Tangerines and papaya come to find first. Then some peaches and cherries. There's some candied bread in there too. It's all makes for a bold but well mannered scent.
They use 5 different hops in this. On first sip you notice the levels and what they are there for. They don't taste all mashed together in some loud blare. It's more like they're part of an flavor orchestra. They all have their parts and they play them well. Fruits like mango and oranges sprinkled with black pepper and bitters first. Next it's some raw honey. Grassy (as in the lawn, lemon and Mary Jane) earthy dankness come along closely afterwards. As it breathes the middle and towards the end cherries, some white grape dryness and a bit of lime zing become more pronounced. The malts string it all together with sweet caramel and fresh bread. Watch out though, the abv hits 9% and it keeps itself unnoticeable until it pulls a sneak attack.
Complexities, flavors and some innovation (they use flake rice in the malting process which will probably drive some people nuts due to its adjunct history.) Stillwater whipped up great one here.