ALPINE BREWING, a tiny microbrewer from the San Diego exurbs, are slowly gathering stream among beer-drinking cognoscenti as truly world-class, style-defining makers of IPAs, aka India Pale Ales – the hoppy, citrus-packed ale that’s typically a beer dork’s favorite or second-favorite beer style. And while they make other beers, these folks from Alpine, you rarely read about ‘em. The kids continue to clamor for PURE HOPPINESS and its ugly unruly brother, EXPONENTIAL HOPPINESS – to say nothing of their more refined, pinky-in-the-air IPAs, NELSON and DUET. Now I’d only gulped a few sips of DUET at a beer festival before, and while I loved it as much as one can love their fifteenth glass of beer in a day, I needed to spend some “alone time” truly contemplating it. I’d just enjoyed a 22-ounce bottle of NELSON a few weeks previous, and declared it to be fantastic on my beer blog, an opinion that was seconded, thirded and fourthed by others who’ve had the good fortune to come across this amazing (and amazingly rare) brew.
My bottles of NELSON and DUET were obtained solely because someone associated with San Francisco’s CITY BEER went on a SoCal beer run and brought some back to the store. Otherwise, it’s something the rest of us not in San Diego county need to trade for or order from an online merchant like South Bay Drugs. In both cases, I can’t recommend highly enough that you do. Duet is more restrained than Nelson is. While it has the citrus juiciness and intense hoppiness one associates with the style, it’s like the meters have been dialed down a bit to allow for full-bodied malts to rise to the fore, giving the beer a real creamy body that’s fairly atypical. DUET is a light, floral ale – there’s just no other way of putting it – albeit one that trades mouth-puckering bitterness for a well-rounded je ne sais quoi. For a beer style that tends to have only subtle differences in qualitative factors, the IPAs from ALPINE BREWING each stand alone and apart from each other, and they’re all delicious. I scored this DUET a 9/10 if you need any more convincing.