Firestone Walker’s Union Jack is an IPA that could easily pass as a double IPA, even if you were paying attention. So, being a fan of extremes in the realm of fermentation, I knew I would like Double Jack before I ever tried it… and I did. And that was at a festival, that was fun, and that was judgment at its best… judgment impaired by a really good time. But let us crack a bottle under slightly more controlled and analytical circumstances. Always an eye for the borderline between stayed, traditional motifs and a bit of an edge, the label was a bill of lading for a beer you definitely want to take possession of. Opened and into the glass. A small glass, yes, but a glass ready for focused flavors and refills. A bouquet of tangerine, traces of pink grapefruit, malt, fresh cream, and a touch of green about to bloom. Raise that glass and drink. The expected blast of bitter almost gets started on the gums and tongue but instead first sublimates before the peak into a full mouth-feel of fine, creamy hops slightly darkened and restrained. Instead of delivering a novel burst of ephemeral verdancy, the hops make their rounds closely in thrall to a lingering sweetness as the ghost of that grapefruit peeks from behind the ajar doors of your palate. And malts and the faintest twist of candied orange are slowly subsumed by a solid but subtle aftermath of competing (in a friendly sense) flavors. You have a word with a friend, and then you realize it is pretty damn hoppy and fundamentally satisfying… and that is all you remember until the next sip.
And no, that is not a bottle of Bulleit Rye in the background. And even if it was, there wasn’t a decent dose of it drawn upon to pave the way for a well-paced beer tasting. And if there was, certainly it would have come off particularly bright in the nose with atomized pepper and loads of rye followed by a trace of sugar on the back-end among notes of drier woods. And maybe the palate would have continued that rye-forward experience, smoother than expected until the tale-end tingle of rye-spice and a dash of heat reminded you of where you were and what you were drinking. But I wasn’t here… and you didn’t read this. –Nate