Reviews, Commentary and Opinions on Midwest Craft Beer and Microbreweries


Beer Reviews

Imperial Hatter

New Holland Brewing Co.
Holland, MI

Style: Imperial/Double IPA
ABV: 9.4%

Eddie’s Rating:
one beerone beerone beerone beerone beer   (Drinkable, but flawed)

Pair With:
New Holland Imperial Hatter is an amped-up version—at least nominally—of their Mad Hatter IPA, but they should’ve named this one Cheshire Cat, another character from Lewis Carroll’s Alice In Wonderland. Like Carroll’s enigmatic cat, Imperial Hatter disappears—tastewise, that is—at the oddest of times, only to come back later as if nothing had ever happened. Sound bizarre? Have a peek through the looking glass …

The pour is a dark, turbid gold, dark enough to be bordering on brown. The head is so non-descript that it is completely absent from my tasting notes (although the brew’s 9.4 percent ABV might have more to do with the omission than the lack of a distinctive head). Big time grapefruit smells waft off the top of the pour, and closer sniffs reveal some grainy maltiness and a mustiness that can be quite strong on some whiffs. Strong enough to be unpleasant.

Both body and mouthfeel start out pretty heavy—on par for a double IPA—but suddenly drop off mid-sip. Weird. That same effect happens tastewise: lots of bitterness up front, a pleasant mix of malty sweetness and tangy grapefruit, then the taste disappears like the figurative Cheshire Cat. A bit of the malt reappears for a lingering, sweet finish, polished off by a dollop of earthy bitterness.

Imperial Hatter is an enjoyable enough drink, but unfortunately has too many flaws to recommend. That Bermuda Triangle of flavor and body in the center is just plain weird. I’m not sure if that mustiness in the aroma is just an over-abundance of earthy European hops or an actual flaw, but either way it is unpleasant at times. A good effort from New Holland, but this one just didn’t do it for me.

Reviewed by Eddie Glick on August 13, 2009.
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