Imperial IPAs 

India Pale Ales were named for their destination. To slake the thirst of the military and colonials living in England's "jewel in the crown," copious quantities of ale were loaded with hops as a preservative against the long voyage from Britain to India. Balanced by equally big malt flavors, the result was a rich brew with a noticeably bitter edge to it. Leave it to us Americans to amp things up and push the limits by creating a double or imperial IPA with more of everything: hops, malt and alcohol. Here are three brews for everyone into excess (at least in moderation):

Beer Valley Leafer Madness Imperial Pale Ale

This offering from our neighbors in Ontario, Ore., pours a hazy tan-hued amber, topped by a lacy, cream-colored head with good retention. Lots of resiny hops on the nose carry through on the palate, marked by a fresh fruit quality with smooth grapefruit accents. Still, weighing in at a heady 100 bitterness units, it's the hops that dominate. This beer also boasts 9 percent alcohol, but you don't really taste it. If you finish the 22-ounce bottle, you'll probably feel it, though, so share with a friend. This is a great brew for all the hop-heads out there.

Grand Teton Brewing Sweetgrass Double IPA

Charlie Otto started off small in Jackson Hole, Wyo., back in 1988. Twenty years later, Grand Teton has grown into its 11,000-square-foot facility in Victor. To celebrate two decades of brewing, he's releasing some extra-special cellar reserve, bottle-conditioned, one-liter packages with the India Pale kicking things off. It boasts double the malt and hops of the regular Sweetgrass, resulting in a big, bold, full-bodied brew, dark amber in color with a mocha-tinted froth that lingers. As rich as it is, it displays remarkable balance, with creamy malt and citrusy hops that never overwhelm. It cries out to be paired with food—everything from grilled meats to spicy Asian dishes should work nicely.

Hale's Ales Aftermath Imperial IPA

Lighter carbonation provides the thinnest head of the three brews. It's a cloudy, dark copper color with rich fruit aromas that include lime, orange and mango backed by a resiny hop character. Those hops aren't quite as assertive as with the Leafer Madness, but they maintain an obvious bitterness from start to finish. Caramel malt flavors with a bright fruit quality help keep things in balance. This is another winner from Hale's.

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