Keeping with California this week, I picked up a bottle brewed about 300 miles south of Chico on the eastern side of the Sierra Nevadas. New to me, the Mammoth Brewing Company offers a pretty robust catalog of beer varieties and certainly doesn't shy away from big beer styles. As an IPA guy... I figured the best introduction I could have to Mammoth Brewing was to pick up a bottle of Mammoth Brewing IPA 395, which is their take on a double IPA and brewed with juniper berries and desert sage.
Directly out of the bottle, Mammoth IPA 395 deviated from what I think an IPA is; it was a thick, dark red with a body so heavy the carbonation struggled to make it to the top and a frothy cappuccino head that clung sticky to the side of the glass. The nose was heavily pine-scented with sweet licorice notes.
The taste of Mammoth IPA 395 was nothing like any IPA I have tried... thick as a milkshake, it was dominated up front by the sweet licorice I detected in the nose along with cherry and molasses. At certain points toasted cocoa stood out and as the beer faded I was able to pick up hints of the sage called out on the label. Being a gin drinker, I was a little disappointed the juniper berries never made an appearance.
Mammoth Brewing Co.'s IPA 395 is an interesting sipping beer, but comes nowhere near what I would expect an IPA to taste like. Maybe similar in flavor to the Dogfish Head 120 Minute IPA in flavor, this beer tastes too big and cloying for only 8% ABV (as opposed to Dogfish Head's 18%) but not big enough to satisfy a barley wine craving. This beer left me puzzled and unsatisfied as an IPA, but would be worthy to pull out when you want something different from the standard varietals.