There can only be one undistributed beer of the week. The competition is fierce in San Diego's beer community, but someone has to take the title. This week's best undistributed beer is ...
Mike Hess Brewing: Infinity +1
Style: Triple IPA
ABV: 12.3 percent
This beer is piney, boozy and the go-to when you're craving a hop-filled experience. Infinity +1 gives those who love the big beers with a hoppy bite a thirst-quenching experience. It's a balanced beer with a dry finish, a malty quality and some nice orange notes.
Infinity +1 comes to us from Mike Hess Brewing Co. We spoke to Michael Beebe, assistant brewer at Mike Hess Brewing, about this tasty brew.
"At 12.3% alcohol by volume, this beer, Infinity +1, is all about delivering the full hop experience to the IPA lover. This triple IPA is resinous and hop-forward in taste, flavor and aroma, aggressively hopped with Simcoe and Amarillo," Beebe said.
The beer is strong and yet not thick in mouth-feel. It's quite easy to drink, due to a solid malt backbone that tones down the high ABV, making it smoother.
"The malts used, a combination of 2-Row, Munic and Dextrose, provide balance to the alcohol and bitterness (100+ IBUS!), yet the beer finishes dry with no residual sweetness."
This beer may taste familiar to some who have been fans of Hess for awhile. The beer used to be called "Amplus Acerba" when it was brewed on the "O.G." 1.5 barrel system in Miramar.
"This version is very similar to the original, giving our Miramar devotees a strong sense of nostalgia. So, it is very much a throw back to the first IIIPA we ever made, but updated and scaled up to our 30-barrel brew house," Beebe said.
The name of the beer, to me, felt like a play on how many hops there must be in this beer. Infinity-plus-one sounds about right if I had to count. Beebe says that it's an inside joke around the brewery, based on how many times this beer has changed names.
"Along the way through different versions of the beer, the name changed several times. From Amplus to Gladius to Finest City to Infinity+1, and probably another name in between that I can't recall at the moment. The '+1' part is for if/when we change the name again," he said.
This beer stands out among the Hess lineup because of its flavor and because it's deceiving. It drinks like a double, backs the punch of a triple and leaves you wanting more at the end of your pint glass. Beebe likes it because of its balanced qualities.
"I am a hop-head through and through, and love big hoppy IPAs, but this beer isn't necessarily overly hopped. For me, the malt shines through, almost as if it's an East Coast-style IPA. Also, even though it is 12-plus-percent, it doesn't drink like it. I shared it with many brewer friends, and most of them guessed it was an 8% IPA, and not a big 12% triple. It is a challenging beer to brew, but the end result makes it worth it."
3812 Grim Ave., North Park or 4892 Voltaire St., Ocean Beach. mikehessbrewing.com