Reviews, Commentary and Opinions on Midwest Craft Beer and Microbreweries


Beer Reviews

Double Trouble

Founders Brewing Co.
Grand Rapids, MI

Style: Imperial/Double IPA
ABV: 9.4%

Nigel’s Rating:
one beerone beerone beerone beerone beer   (World class.)

Pair With:
Nigel loves hops.

Nigel considers Founders to be the preeminent craft brewer in the Midwest.

Nigel has the new Founders Double Trouble, a monstrous imperial IPA checking in at 9.4 percent ABV.

Nigel has a sneaky suspicion that this is going to be one hell of a night.

Now, before you loyal Dorks get all in a tizzy about predetermined outcomes and extreme bias, let me remind you that as a professional beer drinker, I don’t play favorites. Except for those times when I do play favorites … then I play favorites. But in times like these, when I’m not playing favorites, I’m completely open-minded and unbiased, ready to spew forth whatever praise and/or contempt is necessary given my subject matter by not playing favorites. Follow? Good.

In reality, Double Trouble may actually be at a disadvantage, as my expectations for an imperial IPA from the Midwest’s best are as high as you can get, so anything short of absolutely spectacular will lead to utter disappointment. Founders seems to have cranked it up a notch in the release department, as a recent trip to my local purveyor of fine suds led not only to the discovery of Double Trouble, but also Founders Porter and Imperial Stout. Considering that Breakfast Stout seemed to be more readily available this year than in past years, and with still lingering specialty brews Curmudgeon and Backwoods Bastard, things have been busy in Grand Rapids. Not that I’m complaining … I haven’t had Porter yet, but the others completely knocked my socks off. With Founders cranking out the limited edition, specialty brews at a hasty clip, two of my favorite standbys, Centennial IPA and Red’s Rye, have unfortunately been sitting in the ol’ beer closet for quite awhile now. Pity.

So, while I won’t shelter my exuberance over the potential of Double Trouble, I will again assert my firm belief in accuracy and independent thinking. I won’t let the potential get to my head, and won’t let Founders’ track record of phenomenal brews cloud my judgment.

First pour … DAMN! It’s in my head, yo. As a hophead extraordinaire, it’s impossible to take a huge whiff of Cascade gold and not get flustered. In many ways it reminds me of adolescence, when I first noticed boobs. It’s hard to explain why they’re so captivating, but you can’t seem to break the hypnotic hold they have on you. Double Trouble packs a huge blast of Northwest hops, and I’m sensing more in the way of Cascade or Simcoe rather than the Centennial variety that Founders tends to utilize. Regardless, Double Trouble has a beautiful and bountiful aroma of crisp, floral hops with a slight backdrop of sugary malt. There’s a zip to it for sure, both in floral/citrus bite and a touch of alcohol.

The pour is typical for the style, with a mild white head of about an inch that quickly dissipates, leaving a moderate sticky lace throughout. A distinct golden brown, it’s a touch lighter in hue than I was expecting, though it does have the typical cloudiness associated with a powerful, unfiltered brew.

The flavor doesn’t disappoint. I would consider Double Trouble closer to Bell’s Hopslam rather than Founders Centennial IPA or Devil Dancer; the former is more malty and earthy due to the Centennial hops and big malt profile, while the later is a bit of a stinger at 13 percent ABV. Like Hopslam, Double Trouble is remarkably floral and fruity, extremely light and crisp without going overboard and punishing the tongue with bitter, piney notes. The flavor falls largely in the vein of light, floral hops with zesty citrus notes of grapefruit, orange peel, and tropical fruit. What prevents this from becoming a hop monster is the nice backbone of sweet, sugary malt, led by caramel, toffee, and light brown sugar. While hops are the main players, the malty supporting cast steps up to add some balance, making this a true taste sensation. Proof that Double Trouble is a monster but not intolerable is the fact that it rates 86 IBUs; strong for sure, but a fraction of what Devil Dancer packed (I believe that one was just over one hundred billion IBUs). As the beer warms, the sugary, earthy malt notes make their presence felt more, so if you’re looking for balance, serve Double Trouble at about 50°. Remarkably smooth while brilliantly hiding the 9.4 percent ABV, Double Trouble would seem like a good hophead session brew on the surface, but alas, is far too powerful for that. A mild aftertaste lingers, but all in all everything about it is tasty.

Not surprisingly, this is a bonafide five mugger in Nigel’s book. Have I had better imperial IPAs? Sure, but this is certainly up there. Double Trouble is a prime example of my all-time favorite style, as it goes to the extreme while being able to maintain a sense of balance. It’s a must-have for any lover of hops, and a brew that will likely be appreciated by lovers of other styles as well. Moderately priced at $9-10 for a four-pack, Double Trouble is simply the latest in a long line of world class brews from Founders. Cue the hype machine.


Reviewed by Nigel Tanner on February 2, 2009.
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