Falling in Love Again: Suruga Bay Imperial IPA
Starting in 2017, we are running a “Falling in Love Again” series where each month we will feature one beer from our year-round lineup to re-introduce each beer with some new background info that you might not know. Our Taprooms will also feature special promotions connected with the monthly beer.
December has come, and so it’s only fitting that we introduce a beer that is bested only by Rising Sun Pale Ale in terms of popularity: Suruga Bay Imperial IPA.
Suruga Bay Imperial IPA was officially added to our year-round lineup in September of 2009. Leading up to this, Bryan brewed test batches over and over until he was satisfied with the results to make it an official release.
Bryan perfecting recipes
The current IPA fever started in the US and quickly spread to become a worldwide phenomenon. An imperial IPA is an IPA with the both the alcohol and hoppy bitterness bumped up. Our Suruga Bay employs an IBU (International Bitterness Units) of 90, a relatively high amount. However, one of our key concepts at Baird Beer is that of balance. When designing the Suruga Bay, we used the following concepts as a base:
– Imperial, or “double” IPAs should not be overly sweet like a hoppy barley wine
– It should not attack the palette or overpower your taste buds
– While on one hand it must express a strong hop character, it must also be refreshing and invigorating
Fireworks-like festival of hops!
Suruga Bay features both high alcohol content and high IBU, but benefits from a high drinkability. This is because we focus on a blend of fresh hops for character, using various types of whole cone hops for a luxurious level of both bittering and dry hopping. We dry hop not once, but twice to give the beer an complex overall bitterness, flavor, and aroma. Just like the Suruga Bay in the name, this imperial IPA is deep with character and carries a lasting impact.
The view from the Mt. Daruma rest house
Lastly, the story behind the label. Bryan described the flavor of Suruga Bay Imperial IPA to our artist Eiko-san in a few words; a fireworks-like festival of hops. Eiko-san’s final artwork is spot on! It’s a fireworks display above Suruga Bay of hop-fireworks! On a side note, if you visit Numazu, I recommend you take a trip up to Mt. Daruma. The view overlooking Numazu and Suruga Bay is stunning. On a clear winter’s day, you can grab a great view of a glistening snowcapped Mt. Fuji. This is the view that the Suruga Bay artwork was based on.