I tried a Firestone Walker Double Jack double IPA last week at the Map Room. In one of the most famous studies in contrasts, it was said that the month of March roars in like a lion and goes out like a lamb, and nowhere is that more true than here in the Midwest. Keeping with the analogy, when Stone Brewing arrived in Chicago, there were trumpets blaring, 20 gun salutes, and a Stone event at every bar you can think of. Firestone Walker arrived here last week to crickets. I'm beginning to see why.
Prior to Double Jack, I had tried several other FW offerings, the Union Jack and the 21st Amendment collaboration with Stone. The collaboration is an interesting dark beer that I loved on first try but the fennel seeds in the brew caught up to me the second go around. I would still have another. The Union Jack is the standard IPA that I loved on Dark Lord Day when offered at Three Floyds' guest beer booth. It was a welcome crisp and spicy contrast to the heavy stouts I had been drinking. While I was begging that day for this beer to be offered in Chicago as a great session ale, Shaun was not as excited about it. Again, I'm beginning to see why.
Fast forward to earlier this week and my Double Jack. I figured that since the Union Jack, which upon subsequent trials rates as a decent but not special beer, was simply a door opener, the Double Jack would wow me with lots of hop goodness. Double Jack had a minimal aroma, a rather dull amber color, not an unusual amount of carbonation and a bit flabby of a midsection weighted with malts. The hops are on the savory-type spicy side and do not leap out at you. I thought that the sweetness and the weightiness of this could be pared down much more to get it to the level of a standard midwest IPA.
Sometimes less is better and I now understand the lack of fanfare for FW here. Perhaps their other offerings will prove more impressive, but if Stone represents March 1st, FW is a week or two post-the Ides.
Double Jack: 3.7 of 5 stars.