The big barley wines and imperial stouts have been thrown to the back of the cupboard, but these two hoppy bombers jumped straight to the front of the queue. I've said it before and I'll say it again, drink those hoppy beers fresh people!
Captain Lawrence - Captain's Reserve Imperial IPA 8%
This pours liquid gold with a pure white head. The aroma is unbelievably fresh. Clean, floral and fruity with a citrus fruit bowl of pith sitting alongside clean fresh pine. The flavour is just so clean and fresh that the bitterness goes almost unnoticed on the first taste as a wash of citrus, sweet grapefruit and resinous pine fly past on top perfectly crisp pale malt. It's a masterclass.
The hop aromatics fly through your nasal passage as you swallow and the effect is so dramatic it actually made me sneeze. A happy first!
There's also a great depth of hop flavour thanks to the range of 5 hops used. The bitterness builds up after a few sips and is full and drying in the finish, but it doesn't have a punishing bitterness. It's clean and balanced and moreish.
There's a very, very slight alcohol character if you look for it, but really, I could drink this stuff all day.
This pours a classic pale orange with a bubbly white head. The aroma is of pine, tangerine, citrus cough sweets, just classic American IPA. The taste is more focused on pine than citrus but there's a really juicy, fruity character to this beer too, and a very bitter long finish.
That said I would've liked more depth of flavour. This is very much pine, pepper, bitter. Without any real flavours of the citrus fruit that the aroma hints at. It's very good, but after being a little spoilt by the stunning Captain's Reserve, I have to admit I was just a touch underwhelmed by this one.
It's still an excellent beer, but out of the two I'd go with the Captain Lawrence.