Why Maine Beer’s Dinner is America’s Best Double IPA
In the land of hazy IPAs, Dinner seeks balance.
Written by J. Travis Smith
Image by JTS
Dinner at a glance
- Dinner is the first and only double IPA from Maine Beer Company, one of our favorite breweries in New England. Dinner is their most coveted release — just see the reaction from fans who couldn’t get a bottle of last fall’s release. Whether or not you support this level of exclusivity and line-standing is another matter altogether.
- Double dry hopped with over six pounds of hops per barrel
- Hops: Citra, Falconer’s Flight, Mosaic, and Simcoe
- ABV: 8.2%
Why you should care
Double dry hopped beers are expensive to make, meaning that Dinner isn’t part of the usual lineup at Maine Beer Co. But it comes along about every three months to much fanfare. (Last fall’s release used an online auction system to sell 600 tickets to the release and sold out almost instantly.) Most notable, though, is that despite coming from Portland, ME — a city squarely under the influence of the hazy IPA trend that tips the scales toward massive, juicy hop flavors — Dinner stays defiantly balanced. Next to DIPAs like Swish from Bissell Brothers or Epiphany from Foundation (both brewed only a few miles away), Dinner seems tame and understated. But that’s exactly what merits the hype. This beer excels at balance and drinkability, something that has been somewhat forgotten and might be confusing to fans who have come to expect DIPAs to pack in the most hops possible — being as bitter, floral, juicy, and aromatic as they can. This is liquid confidence.
What it tastes like
- Nuance and originality.
- Smells like flowers, Christmas and candy, with a little biscuit.
- Taste is a little of this and a little of that: caramel, apricots, cut grass, pineapple, hop bitterness.
- Above all it’s dry, not lingering, great on the aftertaste, and absurdly refreshing for a bitter beer. Extremely hard to drink this beer slowly.
Where to get it
Only available from the brewery, and only available four times a year. Follow their Instagram to stay on top of release dates.
What’s a Double IPA?
One of Brewing’s Tastiest Creations
First on the scene in the ’90s, the double or imperial IPA is not literally twice a single IPA. It’s an arbitrary term assigned to an IPA — typically 8 or 9 percent ABV — that gets aggressive with its hops. The beer is commonly dry hopped, which means you’ll smell pine or tropical fruit as soon as you pop the can, and the taste should stay similar — massive hops overwhelming light malt, with a smooth and dry finish.
What to drink if you can’t get it
Nothing with national distribution will match this beer, simply because of the freshness-killing time it takes to go through more robust distribution channels. I’d suggest trying to track down a SMaSH IPA (single malt, single hop) to mirror the balance between sweet malt and delicate lemon and tropical hops — Yellow Rose from The Lone Pint might do the trick. Other great balanced IPAs include Pliny the Elder from Russian River and, though it’s a pale ale, psuedoSue from Toppling Goliath.