Ruckus Brewings Hoptimus Prime Review

Who doesn’t love a good IPA? American or English IPAs can be delicious and refreshing on a hot day, while winter can be the time for a double or IPA. This is when it’s good to have a full bodied beer with a little alcoholic warmth to take the chill off a cold winter night. What makes IPA work so well is the interplay of caramel, bready maltiness, combining with a ripe juiciness and a bracing whipcrack of bitterness. These flavors intensify remarkable when done as an imperial IPA.

It’s interesting that India pale ale has always enjoyed a reputation for bigness amongst the world’s beers. Back in the 1800s IPAs were commonly 7-8% abv, the higher values qualifying them as imperial IPAs by today’s standards. Bitterness for these beers clocked in as high as 40 IBUs. Over the years British brewers started lowering these values, possibly because of the taxes beer makers paid based on the alcohol content of their beers. For whatever the reason, today’s British IPAs are nowhere near the strength they once were.

American craft brewers seem to be picking up the slack left by their modern British counterparts. Americans start their IPAs at 6% abv and provide a greater hop presence than their English cousins. Heck, some American IPAs are so hoppy you can smell them before you even pour your beer into a glass. What makes these American brews work for me is how the use of American hops give them a genuinely refreshing quality, perfect for a hot summer day.

Ruckus Brewing’s Hoptimus Prime is what’s known as a double, or imperial IPA. Which means essentially it’s bigger and stronger in every respect. Hoptimus clocks in at 9% abv and an assertive 92 IBUs (International Bitterness Units). Well, time to pour a glass and see how this beer stacks up. Hoptimus Prime is a bright copper-amber colored ale, sort of the color of orange marmalade. Moderate, spritzy carbonation supports a fluffy, white head with decent retention.

Citrussy aroma of hops leap out of the glass. Beer’s center has a nice juiciness to it, as though possessed of fresh squeezed orange juice. Juiciness is supported by a hint of maltiness, a sort of caramel-nutty malt quality. Finish is, well, hoppy.

First sip reveals a nice mouthfeel for such a strong ale. Hoptimus starts off with a bit of caramel and biscuits. Center gives a bit of a bready quality. Breadiness leads into a big blast of hops in the finish. Finish is a bit more bitter than the aroma would lead you to believe. Hoptimus Prime ends off with a bit of grapefruit, and a crisply bitter finish.

Give this one a 6.5 out of 10. The flavors spend a little too much time clashing in my opinion and not enough time harmonizing. And, it could do with a little more character in the middle than it has. If you’re in the mood for a double IPA, there are better examples of the style.