I’ve been drinking some pretty high hop content beers lately. A few days ago, I brought home (finally) the new Sam Adams Hallertau Imperial Pilsner, which bears approximately the same relation to regular Sam Adams as regular Sam bears to a Budweiser (American version). Floral, elegant, bright with hops (Hallertau, of course) without being overly bitter, and pleasantly complex. The beer raised Lisa’s eyebrows, and that’s hard to do.

Her eyebrows were raised a bit higher when she tasted tonight’s beer, the Unearthly Imperial India Pale Ale from Southern Tier Brewing Company. Imperial, connoting a higher-alcohol variety of a standard beer variety, is getting a workout here, taking a standard IPA to unheard of heights. 11% ABV and high but well-balanced IBUs are the start of the story, as is the unearthly orange glow and the aroma, reminiscent of standing over an opened bag of fresh hops. Little to no head, lacing the side of the glass very slightly. Initial sharpness from the hops gives way to a lightly malty back of the tongue with good strong floral character throughout. I wasn’t familiar with this brewery before tonight but I’ll be seeking it out in the future.

Update: Nice article from the NY Times Food section tasting a variety of “extreme” beers, in which the Unearthly is namechecked (though not actually tasted).