When a Total Wine & More store PR rep first contacted me about displaying things I like to drink in their adult beverage stores, I balked because, let's face it, who cares what a news and film blogger consumes? But when I discovered my old pal Greer Wylder of the Greer's OC dining, fashion and trends website had already participated, it was on, baby!
How it worked was I'd provide a list of my favorite elixirs, and an Orange County Total Wine & More store expert would gather some like-minded liquids, have me taste them and then I'd select my three favorites for in-store displays. After consultations with the Weekly's food and beverage brain trust, we decided my favorite of the three favorites would also be our drink of the week. So, uh, behold!
The first thing Erick Valles, the Huntington Beach Total Wine & More wine manager, poured me was the Diamond Knot Industrial IPA, whose nomination was made possible by my having revealed an intimate relationship with Russian River Brewing Co.'s beloved Pliny the Elder and just about any Indian pale ale our double IPA produced by those Stoners in Esconskidrow.
Now, being in the pole position of a beer or wine tasting does an ale no favors. True, you're getting an unpolluted tongue but the drinker most likely will remember the last gulps and forget the first. The thing is, after that first sip-sip-sip, swirl, squeeze of ale through the front-teeth gap, tongue-as-windshield-wiper action and spit to index finger to apply double IPA dabs to the back of my ears, I could not get the Diamond Knot Industrial IPA out of my head the rest of the tasting, which involved three brews and three red wines (hic!).
"The dark copper color foretells a distinct sweet malt backbone to an intensely hoppy character," reads the Total Wine description of the 7.9 percent APV "big brother" to the regular IPA from Diamond Knot Craft Brewing of Mukilteo, Washington. "Floral and citrus flavors along with earthy hop notes create complexity."
I won't disagree with the other stuff, but the word I'd zero in on is "complexity" because that, to me, is what makes a ripping IPA, double or otherwise. I don't want the overpowering taste one associates with biting into shadoobie-sized pickle. I want a hint of that and other flavors layered upon one another so I can really enjoy the beverage, discovering new hints of hops, citrus or the stirrer's lunch with every sip or pint or vat. The Diamond Knot Industrial IPA does that so well that I'll be putting a $4.99, 22-ounce bottle or seven in my next Total Wine shopping cart.
Total Wine & More, 16272 Beach Blvd., Huntington Beach, 714.861.4047, totalwine.com.