IPAs are big business for craft breweries. Beers falling under the IPA umbrella easily outpace other styles in volume of sales. American beer drinkers love the bold hoppy flavors and tongue numbing bitterness, pushing brewers to produce beers with ever climbing IBU and ABV numbers. There are very few breweries that don’t brew a flagship IPA, and many also make big and boozy double IPAs. A great DIPA can put your brewery on the map in the increasingly competitive market (just ask the Alchemist or Russian River), so it is no surprise that newer breweries work hard to perfect and then market their DIPAs. I recently picked up a couple of new and highly recommended DIPAs, sampled both and thought they would be perfect for a head-to-head beer review.
The Competitors: Two relatively new releases in the double IPA catagory, Captain’s Daughter from Grey Sail Brewing and Bootleg Fireworks from Baxter Brewing Company.
Grey Sail Brewing and Baxter Brewing Company actually have a lot in common outside of their locations (Grey Sail is headquartered in Rhode Island while Baxter is in Maine). Both breweries were founded in the last few years, long enough to gain a loyal local following but still new enough to be unfamiliar to many. Both breweries also predominantly can their beer for distribution, including the beers reviewed here (Grey Sail bottles a few special releases, Baxter only cans). I have enjoyed a number of selections from each brewery, enough so that I seek out anything new they release. Here is how these beers stack up:
A 12 oz. can of Grey Sail Captain’s Daughter pours a cloudy deep amber-orange with a moderate white head and some nice lacing on the glass. the hops dominate the smell, deep resin along with a little fruitiness. The hops are also the predominant flavor, a little more citrus and tropical fruit in the flavor than on the nose. There is significant bitterness balanced by a noticeable full malt backbone. The beer is full bodied and you get a little alcoholic sweetness followed by a dry finish. This is a very good beer for the winter months, the full flavor and 8.5% ABV will help keep you warm during a cold snap.
Baxter Bootleg Fireworks comes in 16 oz. tallboy cans, pouring a lighter yellow with a massive white head. This is also hop forward, strong scents of pine and citrus on the nose. As expected Bootleg Fireworks is another hop-bomb, notes of lemon, grapefruit and orange along with floral and earthy touches. The maltiness is a little more subdued here, but the bitterness is not, this beer numbs the tongue a bit. Despite the aggressive hop flavor the beer is remarkably drinkable, even at 9.0% ABV you don’t get a hint of booze. This is a beer for the true hop lover, the flavors really shine through.
The Verdict: When I do a H2H review of two beers that I have enjoyed previously I know it will be tough to pick a favorite. It was a pleasant surprise to have the same issue with two beers that were completely new to me! Both of these beers are worth picking up if you enjoy hop forward selections. If you prefer a little more body and a touch of boozy sweetness to balance out the aggressive hops you will probably love the Grey Sail Captain’s Daughter. Personally I enjoyed the Baxter Bootleg Fireworks just a hair more as it was slightly easier to drink and the combination of hop varieties was perfect for my palate. Baxter Bootleg Fireworks gets the win here.
Previous Grey Sail Reviews: Grey Sail Leaning Chimney Smoked Porter