Reviews, Commentary and Opinions on Midwest Craft Beer and Microbreweries


Beer Reviews

Imperial Gemini

Other reviews for this beer:
Franz Mueller one beerone beerone beerone beerone beer read it ›
Southern Tier Brewing Company
Lakewood, NY

Style: Imperial/Double IPA
ABV: 10.5%

Nigel’s Rating:
one beerone beerone beerone beerone beer   (Not good.)

Pair With:
Let’s refer to my latest review as “number 101 with a bullet,” and no, that’s not a good thing. As you may recall, I recently celebrated my 100th review with the tasty 10th anniversary release from Founders. I was hoping to begin the next century of reviews with a bang, though I didn’t really know what brew I would review. Then I tried Southern Tier’s Imperial Gemini. And now I’m PISSED. The second century of Nigel reviews is going to start with both a bang and a bullet, as I’m literally about to shoot the top off this fucking bottle. (Nigel has to be REALLY angry to drop f-bombs, unlike the normally potty-mouthed Eddie Glick)

I purchased a couple of bombers of Imperial Gemini after reading Franz’s recent review. I had previously sampled three selections from this New York-based brewer, and was very, very impressed with them all: the standard IPA and the imperial IPA offerings of Hoppe and Unearthly. I reviewed the Unearthly a while back, and I was planning on perhaps reviewing IPA for my next review. As Franz stated, Imperial Gemini is a 50/50 mix of Unearthly and Hoppe, so I figured this 10.5 percent monster would be phenomenal, though I hadn’t really planned on penning a review since I thought Franz had done a sufficient job explaining it.

This all changed when I tried to open the damn thing. Now I’m reviewing it, and I’m not going to be kind … AND, I’m not even going to “review” the beer itself, per say. Nigel has principles that some of you may view as a bit finicky, but I feel strongly about them regardless. One thing when it comes to ANY product, be it craft beer, wine, food products, ANYTHING, is that you had BETTER BE ABLE TO GET THE DAMN THING OPEN!

Franz alluded to this at the beginning of his Imperial Gemini review, and I’ll admit that I thought he was either being silly or was perhaps unfamiliar with wax-top bottles. I enjoyed his description, as it gave me a nice chuckle, but I never would have guessed that not only was he serious, he was actually being too kind. This thing is insanely stupid when it comes to opening. It’s not covered in “wax,” but rather in a semi-brittle “wax-like” substance that is about a quarter inch thick and more difficult to penetrate than the safe at the Bellagio. I struggled with mine for literally 15 minutes during halftime of the Super Bowl (fortunately I had no interest in seeing Tom Petty), and I don’t recall ever having been so frustrated attempting such a seemingly simple task. I had scissors, a box cutter, a can opener, two different bottle openers, a flat-head screwdriver, and pliers. After 15 minutes, the bottle FINALLY came open with little shards of “wax” all over the place and a mangled bottle cap that was practically ripped in half, not to mention a beer that was well shaken and getting warm.

While it’s a bit humorous in retrospect, my point is this: you’re a new and relatively small brewery trying to market your carefully crafted wares to the general public … don’t you want people to have easy access to them? What on earth is the point of putting this ridiculous substance over the top when it proves to be nearly impossible to remove? I understand that some brewers use the wax seal to make the beer look classier, but I’ve never really seen that as being necessary. AND … if you’re going to use the wax covering, you’d better actually, you know … USE WAX! At least that’s easy enough to scrape away.

Once I was actually able to drink the beer, it was very good. However, I refuse to acknowledge it in proper form until the folks at Southern Tier make it accessible. Should I stumble across Imperial Gemini in the future in a non-waxed bomber, I’ll gladly revisit it and give it proper due. Until then, however … the hell with it. While it may be a tasty, well-made beer, the idiocy of the packaging makes this a definite “stay the hell away,” and for now it gets a one mug rating. Nigel has principles, even on the small scale, and this is just flat-out ridiculous. This one seemingly small detail has significantly downgraded my once lofty opinion of Southern Tier.

Cheers! (IF you can get it open …)

Reviewed by Nigel Tanner on February 25, 2008.
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