Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Three Floyds - Arctic Panzer Wolf Review

Brewery: Three Floyds (IN)
Style: Imperial IPA
ABV: 9.0%
Grade: A-

"Scorched earth is our brewery policy." With a slogan like that and a bottle like this, how can you go wrong? From my limited experience with them, Three Floyds is that rare sort of brewery that does every style well, and turns every style into something unique and interesting — exactly the sort of thing that makes you one of the hottest breweries in the country. (Badass label art and beer names also helps.) But if they're known for doing one thing particularly well, it is (surprise surprise) hoppy beers.

Arctic Panzer Wolf is a very good beer, and a very good IPA of a certain sort. It doesn't quite enter the upper echelon of imperial IPAs that I've had — in fact, I enjoyed Three Floyds' own Apocalypse Cow much more, despite that beer being less-than-fresh when I bought it. If you enjoy your IPAs straight up piney — not dank, not herbal, but tree-to-the-face piney, this is a beer for you. While the initial impression for me was a bit of fruity, spicy sweetness, this is a bluff, a false sense of security, while Arctic Panzer Wolf flanks you with bitterness, then launches a massive, brutal initiative through the pine, crushing the Maginot Line that is your tongue and establishing a puppet government in your mouth. Also, there some orange / citrus nuances. But mostly the first part.

With the burn of the 9% ABV — faint, but noticeably there — and the (ruthlessly efficient) bitterness, Arctic Panzer Wolf hits its notes perfectly, though it's maybe a bit too focused on one end of the spectrum. The taste of orange, spicy orange rind, and grapefruit citrus is faint but there, accompanied by an almost medicinal, tongue-squatting sharpness, a flavor that reaches back around to affect your next sips. While I wouldn't describe the beer as rich, its resiny flavors give the impression of a thicker texture, an unsweet richness that still coats your tongue.

Mouthfeel is semi-creamy and spot on for this beer, with medium carbonation and a light touch on the  sweetness/richness ratio. Some would probably call this beer unbalanced, but when a brewery tries to add sweetness equal to hops in a beer like this, you end up with a mess, something that's too rich in multiple ways. It is what it is: an excellently brewed, super-piney, super-bitter imperial IPA. In an era when super-hoppy is no longer extreme, I still find Arctic Panzer Wolf to be a surprisingly intense palate wrecker. The brewery's motto certainly holds true, but have no fear: scorched earth is tasty stuff.

Availability: Year-round, assuming you can find Three Floyds to begin with. 22 ounce bottles.

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