Let me start with a little background about this beer for those who may not know. Since 2005, St. Arnold Brewery has been releasing a series of single batch beers (one time only…usually) called the Divine Reserve. They are simply titled by the number of the batch (they’ve done 11 batches so far) and can be of any style although they tend to be bigger beers in order to encourage aging. You have to keep on top of the releases cause they will sell out very quick in most areas, and many stores will limit the amount of bottles you can purchase. I have yet to be disappointed.
So anyways, Endeavor originally was brewed as Divine Reserve 11 and released about a year ago. I was very excited when I found out what the style was, being the restrained hop head I am. Nothing better than a nice crisp IPA for my money. So I bought 4 (or whatever the amount Rick at Grapevine Beer and Wine let me buy) and went straight home to chill one down. After finishing my first 12oz, I immediately opened another without hesitation. It was so refreshingly bitter (yes, that can happen). The next day, I went and bought some more. And the next. And the next. And the…well you get the point. The whole time, I kept thinking, “They really need to brew this once a year!”
Well, then I heard the rumor that there was going to be a vote to name the beer and that a label was underway. And it was so.
Needless to say, I bought 1 or 2 Endeavours when it was released. And I’ve decided to write up a small review of this wonderful beer.
The beer pours out a deep gold/light bronze color and generates quite a bit of off-white head if not poured gently. The head consists of small, tightly packed bubbles and can be quite frothy depending on the pour and the glass (I’ve found that the more flute-styled glasses, which are appropriate for high hopped styles, will generate more foam than the goblet/snifter glasses). The foam laces beautifully as the beer is consumed.
The beer doesn’t need to be swirled to take in the aroma. As you bring the glass towards your face you will begin to detect the floral/citrusy aroma of hops. The hop character never overwhelms and is full of pleasant and inviting fruity and piney aromas. No sharp alcohol (although the 8.9% ABV), very little malt character (despite the 1.016 Final Gravity), and if any yeast character is present, it is mixed into the hop aroma.
The taste of this beer is not at all what you expect from a Double IPA. Many are amazing, but can still be hard to drink due to the extreme bitterness and its effect on one’s palate. The bitterness on Endeavour is moderately-high and perfectly supported (for the style of course) by the malt backbone. The hop flavor is crisp while the bitterness and carbonation play a more dominant role in the beginning of the taste. As the beer warms in the mouth and the aromas are sent back into the nasal cavities, an explosion of citrusy and resinous hop flavor occurs, somewhat reminiscent of grapefruit. Just a slight bit earthier in flavor than aroma, but refreshing nonetheless and finishes smooth.
The body of the beer is medium, but is hardly perceived as such due to the high hop bitterness. The medium carbonation and slight astringency from hop bitterness lend a slight edge to the beer, along with the alcohol content. This sharpness helps to counterbalance the body and gives the beer a refreshing feel and not too dry of an aftertaste (considering it is 76 IBUs).
Overall, this is just as good, if not better than the 2011 release. I believe this one was filtered, while 2011 was not, which did lead to a brilliant clarity. I will say, that there must be a whole lot of dry hopping to achieve that much hop aroma and flavor without being more than 76 IBU. I know many people who would argue that this is simply a very strong IPA, and I can’t say I completely disagree. But that’s neither here nor there (unless your judging this in a style-based competition). What’s important, is that this is a fantastic beer. Almost too good to be released all year round (not sure on the specifics yet, but this is what I’ve been told and read) since I’ll be going broke!