Friday, January 20, 2012

Founders Brewing Double Trouble Review

I was watching this McDonald's commercial the other day.  They love to make ads with the following theme.  A really wussy acting guy is too scared to match wits with his girlfriend or some love interest.  Said wuss-boy pumps himself up with inner dialogue by reminding himself that he's really smart because he bought items off of Mickey D's Dollar Menu (ignoring the fact that McDonald's isn't even food and is shaving off his life years in thicker swaths than an illegal West Virginia stip mining outfit).  Anyway, that's the theme.  The particular ad I saw had this guy trying to impress a French girl with, perhaps, his knowledge of art - I didn't hear the artist's name that was stated.  After wreaking his brain with inner dialogue he spits out that the artist has a certain je ne sais quoi.  Of course, this invited more trouble for him in the form of his French tart inquiring whether he spoke French.  Fat chance. 

As for myself, while irked for the aforestated reasons, I siezed upon je ne sais quoi.  It means an X factor.  An undefinable, perhaps indescribable intangible factor. What else has it?   What brewery has it? What beer?  Why, Founders, of course, has it.  Their Double Trouble Imperial IPA embodies it.

What do I mean by this, you might ask.  Am I stating that Double Trouble is the best IPA out there?   Not at all.  Double Trouble, Founders' best known and most widely available stab at an imperial IPA is by no means the best IPA on the market. I wouldn't even consider rating it as the best IPA in its state.   What it shares with pretty much every other Founders brew is the brewery's unusual stamp they put on every fermented product.  Plenty of great porters populate the market, but Founders Porter has an unusual rich bittersweet chocolateness about it.  Line up all the bourbon barreled stouts but Kentucky Breakfast Stout's ingenious balance still stands out.  No other cherry beer approaches Cerise.   Red's Rye stands alone, in it's own spot, amongst red ales.  Uniquity is the Founders way.

It is on display in spades with Double Trouble.  Maybe it's that hazy pale orange color, but something about the look of it tells its secret.  You're told via your eyes, on the QT, that this isn't going to be your average double IPA.  And it's not.  It smells too clean.  Nothing about the nose suggests that you're due for a hop punishment.  Perhaps you might detect some pine in there.   The mouthfeel is like blanc de noir, champagne like with tiny carbonation.   It may have the most elegant mouthfeel of an IPA out there, maybe too much so; but we'll revisit that concept in a second.  The twist is in how the flavor hits you.  Hops don't slam your tongue on first sip.  Your tongue dips into an earthy pool.  The hops are late responders, arriving in large fashion but never overwhelming.  These are heavy on the pine and earthiness with maybe a small touch of citrus.  Bitterness doesn't so much build up on your tongue as it does pulsate; the resin barrage goes in and out but never gets out of balance.

What's right about this beer is what's not quite right.  You are left kind of desiring more hops.  The gentle, elegant mouthfeel sells you on the idea of the beer not being too massive, but leaves you a bit wanting for somewhat more of a robust feel for the price of all that pineyness.   This is a rather subtle beer. It gets pretty far on that status because it can last on a shelf for quite a while since it's not as reliant as are some IPA's on huge hop smells and acids.  Don't go into drinking Double Trouble thinking that you're about to have a midwest Pliny the Elder (which sounds so good right about now).  This isn't that.  Then again, nothing else is Pliny.  And nothing else is the unique Double Trouble either.  This is an outstanding beer. It's just not what you expect.

I don't think you need any further help telling your French girlfriend about it.

4.0 of 5 stars.  Singular, if a bit wanting.


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