Simplicity is the new complexity
A Review of Single Hop Imperial IPA: El Dorado by Flying Dog Brewing Co.
Posted on 6/17/2012 by Chops
When the IPA first started to regain momentum in the craft brew world, it was seen as little more than an extra hoppy beer. Fast forward to today where breweries have decided to take hopped-up complexity to near absurd levels. It seems almost commonplace at this point for any given brewery to have at least one palate punishing IPA. Unfortunately this means that the Imperial IPA style is getting a bit watered down. Not literally of course, just less distinctive. This is why it's so important to have breweries like Flying Dog and beers like their El Dorado Imperial IPA to showcase exactly why Imperial IPAs don't have to be overly complex juggernaut brews. Hops in and of themselves have big bold flavors. You really don't have to monkey with with the basic equation, which is why ''Single Hop'' beer series are becoming very popular on the craft market. As palates acclimate to harsher environments, they start to seek out distinctive flavors.

In the glass, El Dorado has a hazy golden orange coloration. It comes with a frothy white head that dissipates fairly quickly. The aroma comes across as more of a sweet fruity citrus than earthy or piney. Consequently, this beer gravitates more towards an orange profile rather than grapefruit. It's a delightful intro that calms the nerves and has you looking forward to that first sip.

A sharp hop sting greets you on that first swig, which catches you off guard for a second. But, the sweet malts and warm citrus quickly reign in any aggression. The result is a very well balanced middle ground where you can freely study the characteristics of the El Dorado hop. To me, this hop variety tastes almost tropical. It's a very soft profile which is easily dissected. But, this isn't to say that the bite disappears. It still has the prominent aggression of a good Imperial IPA, just with rounded teeth. I found little alcohol sting due to the hop profile's blanketing effect. The mouthfeel is very clean with a mid-body and a precise flavor profile. The flavor train itself is actually very fun to study. It's sharp and sweet to start, then warm and balanced in the middle, and exits with a lengthy bitter aftertaste.

Overall, Flying Dog's El Dorado Imperial IPA is a delightful brew with a dominant personality. It retains the power of an Imperial IPA, but without the roughness that usually accompanies it. Consequently, it's a very tasty brew that I can recommend to most beer fans. It's still too caustic for novices to appreciate, but might make a good imperial bridge for craft brew newbies. Hop heads and other seasoned drinkers will adore this brew as an fantastic study of the El Dorado hop variety. I find myself gravitating more and more to Single Hop Imperial IPAs precisely for this reason. Any brewery can throw everything but the kitchen sink into a beer, but very few of them can do great things with very little.

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Single Hop Imperial IPA: El Dorado by Flying Dog Brewing Co.
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