The brewers at Ale Asylum like to use small pilot batches to experiment with basic ingredients, especially hops. This year they’ve offered well over a dozen such brews in the taproom, simply identified by the batch number. Recently, a few of those pilot brews have been sold in 22-ounce bottles in a new line called the Spawn Series. Now one is headed for 12-ounce bottles — a double IPA called Off Switch.
What is it? Off Switch from Ale Asylum Brewing of Madison.
Style: The double IPA (also called the imperial India pale ale or IIPA), is deep golden to reddish-amber in color with a medium- to full-bodied mouthfeel. It’s known for a strong hop profile, often with assertive resiny, piney and/or citrus tones depending upon the type of hops in the recipe. There should be some maltiness, which adds a spicy, warm complexity. The IIPA can be quite strong at 7.5–10 percent ABV.
Background: Ale Asylum’s experimental brews are about throwing a lot of stuff against the wall to see what sticks, says Ale Asylum brewer Joe Walts. “These beers are about offering something new or what people haven’t experienced. We’re trying to figure out what is going to excite them.”
Off Switch first appeared as pilot batch #013 last July. It could have ended there, or become an offering in the Spawn Series. However there was something more to this double IPA. Part of its allure comes from a new variety of hops, Skyrocket, from Mazomanie’s Gorst Valley Hops. They are similar to the piney-tasting Chinook, only with a more assertive tropical fruitiness.
Off Switch is a strong beer made with a touch of Belgian candi sugar that adds alcohol while keeping the body of the beer on the lighter side of the style — which means that it can be very deceiving at 9 percent ABV.
Currently, Off Switch sells in bomber bottles for around $9/each. If you want to find it, your best bet is to go to the brewery’s taproom. By mid-November, 12-ounce bottles are expected to be included in Ale Asylum variety packs.
Aroma: A fruity, tropical hoppiness.
Appearance: Clear orange-copper color. A modest, bubbly tan head.
Texture: Medium-bodied and bubbly.
Taste: Initially, its juicy tropical hoppiness has hints of tangerine and orange. The more resiny tones come out later in the profile.
Finish/Aftertaste: The hoppiness lingers with a mild light dryness.
Glassware: This is a nice beer for the tulip snifter, which will focus the hoppy aroma, support a frothy head and encourage slow enjoyment of this strong beer.
Pairs well with: Cajun seasonings or entrees or appetizers that contain cayenne pepper. It matches well with sharp cheddars and blue cheeses.
The Verdict: This is a beer you’ll want to drink fresh; don’t even think about aging it. I noticed the bold, bright orange-tangerine hop aroma right away. There’s an initial wave of tropical hoppiness that eventually allows a resiny bitterness to emerge as the flavor profile unfolds. The hops are assertive, but not palate-wreckers. There’s a crisp cleanness overall. There’s a hint of warmth in the finish, but this beer is lighter and smoother than what I was expecting for a double IPA. Even so, watch out for its high alcohol content. I like this beer for its light tropical hoppy notes and look forward to seeing it in smaller 12-ounce bottles later this year.