As I've said many -- many, many, many -- times before, I tend to find IPAs somewhat dull. Too many brewers are only concerned about creating hop bombs, and while many of these tend to be just good, fine and dandy, few have much depth.
Norwegians are of course not just extremely good looking and intelligent and ever so humble, but also great brewers, as proven by Haandbryggeriet and, my personal favorite, Nøgne Ø. Finding their stuff can be difficult around here, so bless Enoteca for providing the Inland Northwest with some of the brewery's Imperial IPA, #500.
And it's a good one. It pours a dark copper color, ever so cloudy with a frothy head. Aromas are, not surprisingly, hoppy, but also with hints of caramel. The tender sweetness is kind of there to tell you everything is going to be OK.
With 100 IBUs and 10% alcohol (and five hops -- yes, it's all a play on "500") you'd think this would kick you in the teeth, but the flavors are surprisingly rounded. The #500 is hoppy, but not to the point where it'll kill you, quite possibly because the hops are flanked by hints of caramel and citrus.
This is all meant to be sipped quietly of course, and as you get into it you will likely notice little nuggets of awesomeness. Some hints of malts, for example, and the caramel laces the tongue more pleasantly with every taste.
So. This is a pretty damn classy Imperial IPA. It might not be a homerun if you're a complete hophead, but it could be one to convince you there's more to life than insane hopiness. Definitely a winner.