Breckenridge Brewery is like a lot of breweries these days in that they offer a special lineup of beers in addition to their regular year-around choices. In Breckenridge’s case, this special batch of beers is called their “471” series, presumably named after their brewing and bottling facility that opened in 1996 at 471 Kalamath Street in Denver, CO. Breckenridge Brewery has been in operation since 1990 and offers a wide line of beers, of which I have also had their Agave Wheat (didn’t blow my socks off, but the American wheat style doesn’t tend to excite me too much, although they are a top choice of mine in the summer months).
The 471 IPA is billed as a small batch, limited edition double IPA made from Pale, Munich, Caramel-30, Carapils and Torrified Wheat malts and Chinook, Centennial, Simcoe and Fuggles hops. It pours a nice copper color that is a little cloudy either from being bottle conditioned or because of the inclusion of wheat (or both) in the recipe.
At 70 IBU’s it packs a pretty good hop punch, and at 9.2% ABV taking a bomber down on your own will leave you needing a designated driver! Interestingly, for as “big” as they are touted, I’ve actually found regular IPA’s to be generally more bitter than double IPA’s. I lived in Italy for almost seven years, and that is a country that has taken bitter flavors to an art form, so I have always loved well-done bitterness in food and drink. I like gin (although it comes off sweet often) and Campari, and Justus Drugstore’s excellent Negroni is one of my favorite cocktails on the planet (Hendrick’s Gin, homemade dry vermouth and Campari).
IPA’s, or India Pale Ales, get their name because, historically, they were hopped more than the usual English beers. As the legend goes, extra hops were added to beers that were shipped from Britain to India during colonial times because hops are a natural preservative. The story goes that the colonists in India liked these extra-hopped beers so much that they asked for them to continue being made once they returned to India. This story has largely been disproven, but the bottom line is that the hallmark of the IPA style is big hops aroma and flavor, particularly when made by USA breweries.
Double IPA’s, then, use more malt, more hops, and more yeast and they should produce more flavor, more aroma and more alcohol. Ironically, however, because “double” or imperial styles do use more malt and more yeast, they produce more sugar and more sweetness. So, while double IPA’s generally contain a lot more hops, they tend to be more balanced, in my opinion, than a lot of standard IPA’s, and therefore, come off less bitter and hoppy than most of the normal IPA’s I drink.
The 471 has a great grapefruity aroma, but not as sharp as some I’ve smelled. I think I detected a hint of orange on the aroma, too, particularly as the beer warmed a little (I generally drink and enjoy double IPA’s at room temperature, a lesson I learned with Stoudt’s double IPA). At room temperature I got a little alcohol on the aroma, too.
This aroma carries over quite nicely into the flavor. The initial flavor is a sweet, mild grapefruit/orange melange (that’s right, melange) that is carried by that big malt backbone I mentioned. Bitterness starts to come in about midway into it, followed by a nice, long hoppy finish and aftertaste.
For a 9.2% beer, this is extremely easy to drink, making it kind of dangerous! I find the 471 to be very balanced and, really, in my experience, more sweet than hoppy. The alcohol is completely hidden in the malt and hops. I had a pretty good buzz after one glass, but I was alone when I drank this and had to take one for the team! LOL
I like this beer. It’s a very easy to drink double IPA and I think it would be a good introduction to someone into the IPA style in general. My only criticism of the 471 IPA is that it leaves a goober in the back of my throat and tongue, like candy (from the malt and sweetness), and that it is not as aggressively hoppy as the marketing would have you believe. That said, this is a wonderfully balanced IPA, refreshing despite the goober, and exceedingly easy to drink. Well done!