|It didn't look this blurry at the time.|
You’ll know what you’re in for as soon as you put your nose to it. The beer gives off a meaty breeze of pine and candied grapefruit (is that Citra in there?) that won’t be leaving your nostrils anytime soon. The first gulp is almost overwhelming. The bitterness is so intense that it goes beyond mere taste and becomes a physical experience. It needles into your pharynx and travels up into your ears like a slow moving electrical shock. Is this pleasurable? In an odd way, yes. As I drank it I tried to sort out what I was tasting and soon gave up. What’s the point? It’s like going on a roller coaster ride and trying to appreciate the scenery. To hell with subtlety, this is a thrill-show beer that clocks in at 9% ABV and 108 IBUs. But that’s not to say this is some kind of gimmick. The beer is obviously well made and the fact that a brew this intensely bitter is still incredibly drinkable is testament to its quality. Often beers that are this aggressive become more of a chore than a pleasure about three quarters of the way through, but this one never grows overly thick or sappy. It does, though, cast a long, bitter shadow over anything that follows in its wake. After the Illumination I opened a New Belgium 1554, thinking I’d counter it with something malty. No luck, there. The Illumination just wouldn’t quit. That was the worst damned 1554 I’d ever swallowed.
Festival Foods in Oshkosh is selling 4-packs of Central Waters Illumination Double IPA for $10.49. They’ve got a stack of it in the back cooler. Go to it hop fiends!