Double Review: Half Pints' Humulus Ludicrous 2010 vs 2011

Double Review: Half Pints' Humulus Ludicrous 2010 vs 2011 by Cody La Bière
As a beer hoarder, I'm pretty naïve when it comes to hoarding.. I'll hoard anything - bad beer, good beer, Belgian beer and yes, even hoppy beer. I didn't realize that India Pale Ales and especially Double IPAs don't age well. D'oh!

Well lesson now learned, I'm doing a double review - Half Pints' Humulus Ludicrous from 2010 versus Humulus Ludicrous from 2011. The 2010 bottle came out right before they changed their packaging and logos, also they still sold all their seasonals in standard 341mL bottles. THe 2011 edition had the new label, as well now came in a pry-off 650mL bottle. Since the top is a pry-off, it no longer required for the top to be waxed (as a tamper-proof measure). Both beers are 8% ABV and have 100 IBU, so this will be a bitter Double IPA. The 2010 edition sold for $4.50 for the 341mL bottle while the 2011 edition sold for just under $10 for the 650mL bottle.

2010 Edition:
Appearance: Pours an orangy amber. There is some carbonation and head going on here, considering this beer is over a 1.5 years old. The head is minimal and a bit beige, but it's going absolutely nowhere for the moment. At the very bottom of the bottle, there's a thick amount of sediment, very large sediment - that's a first for me!

Aroma: Citrusy hops, a bit of lemon, a bit of caramel, slightly bitter. Not as hoppy as a fresh batch would be, of course.

Taste: Still incredibly hoppy for being quite an old batch. Much hoppier than a standard Little Scrapper India Pale Ale. A bit of lemony citrus, as well as a bit of sweetness of caramel coming from the malt. The bitterness of the hops lingers around my palate for quite a while after I sip on it. I am very surprised it's as hoppy as it is. Somewhat creamy to the palate.

Overall Thoughts: Even at 1.5 years old, it still retained a majority of the hoppiness. Quite a bitter IPA compared to their Little Scrapper, but quite enjoyable none-the-less. This is one of my favourite Double IPAs for a reason - beaucoup des houblons! I love hoppy beers. The caramel hint is nice, as well as the standard citrusy zest as expected.

2011 Edition:
Appearance: This is a younger batch (6 months old) so it will obviously have some differences. First off, the head - It's quite thick and creamy, a beigey creaminess. Similar in appearance to the 2010 batch as it's fairly orangey and amber, however slightly darker than the 2010, more caramel in appearance.

Aroma: Quite hoppy as expected. A lemony citrus zing with a rich hop bitterness. There's a hint of "paint" in the aroma, which is quite weird. Also, I seem to notice a bit of a peppery spiciness somewhere in the beer, reminiscent to Dieu du Ciel's Route des Épices.

Taste: Wow, much more bitter than I expected, an incredibly bitter DIPA. Not much citrus there but some lemon does show up, but only so slightly. A bit of caramel eventually hits the palate after I drink a bit of it. Bit of a floral taste to it from the hops that quickly diminishes. Slightly acidic and watery (light) to the palate.

Overall Thoughts: The head is not going down any. This is an incredibly bitter DIPA, not as sweet as I remember, but that doesn't bother me. The more hops, the better.

Differences: The 2010 edition, while it's not a fresh batch, still was able to retain quite a bit of the hoppy goodness you expect in a Double IPA, it had a great amount of citrus and caramel sweetness that complimented the beer quite a bit. The 2011 edition was much more of a bitter hoppiness with not as much citrus or caramel sweetness to balance it off. The 2011 edition is more of a floral hoppiness while 2010 is more citrusy. The 2010 has more of a creamy mouthfeel while the 2011 has more of a watery/acidic mouthfeel but some creaminess.

Even with the batch being 1.5 and .5 years old respectively, they still taste pretty damned drinkable - lots of hops remain! Half Pints' Humulus Ludicrous is my favourite DIPA on the market, although it's pricier than the alternatives such as Tree's Hop Head DIPA ($6/650mL) or dare I say... Minhas' Imperial Jack? ($3.75/650mL)- actually just STAY AWAY from the Minhas if you know what's best for you! All in all, Humulus Ludicrous may be the best DIPA in Canada, even at $10/650mL bottle.


Vanessa said...

I've always noticed an almost soapy note in the old HLs. Did you find that at all?

Kinthelt said...

I was under the impression that IPAs and double IPAs kept well, as that was the intent of their creation. All those hops were supposed to act as a preservative so the beers could be shipped from the UK to India.

Nick W said...

I've had some great aged double IPAs -- some tend to be made specifically for aging, especially if they're high in alcohol (Dogfish Head 120 Minute IPA comes immediately to mind: the bottle itself says "Enjoy now or age for a decade or so"). Some IPAs you want to drink fresh to avoid losing their floral hoppiness (which I love as a hophead myself), but in my experience, it's not always bad to lose that if you get a more well-rounded, complex beer.

Apparently English IPAs tend to age better than North American and especially West Coast IPAs for the reason Dale hinted at above: they needed the hops as a preservative to get the beer to India.

Cody Lobreau said...

@Vanessa - I'm surprised you don't have a hoard of them! I was lucky by finding them randomly at the LC.

@Dale - I got in shit with a friend of mine when I told him I had a bottle of Humulus in the fridge for a long time. Brewmaster Dave at Half Pints even says that IPAs aren't "meant" to be stored, but there's some beers out there that defy the odds, my '10/'11 batches of Humulus turned out better than I expected too.

There's a bunch of hoppy beers that have been at the MLCC for god who knows how long (Brooklyn, Garrison) and they still have a really hoppy and delicious zing to them, 1-2 years later.

@Nick Damn, I still need to try 120 Minute!