When you see a beer emblazoned with such an appellation, it really demands that you pick it up. I mean, c'mon... Palate Wrecker? It jabs your curiosity with a red hot poker and challenges you at the same time. I know exactly what this beer is made to do and when you're in the mood for that hoppy, bitter, sticky goodness, nothing else will do. There's no IBUs listed on the label, but it states a 9.5% ABV. Good, I never really liked my liver anyway. I'm ready to crack this open, I just hope it doesn't crack back. Let's pour!
Starting off, this beer leaves no hop scent unturned. It begins with a strong grassy smell, adds resin, grapefruit, pine, and dabbles with some oranges. The malts come through as hay-like with a touch of mustiness, but also offer a distant bit of brown sugar which has to shout to be heard through the citrusy hops. Once the beer settles a bit, the hops fall into a pine & citrus partnership, with a bit of herbal tickle that keeps us mindful of the hop plant's relations in the Hemp family (cannabaceae, pronounced can-uh-BAY-shee-ay). The citrus comes across as so sweet and fragrant that it borders of floral. Very nice.
As expected this beer showed great head, lacing, and retention. The sticky head was a slightly yellowed ivory color and covered the surface well after the pour. The color is more copper and amber than I expected. Well, I guess most IPAs are copper and/or amber, but this appears more red when just sitting in the glass.
I was about to take the first sip of this beer and I began to wonder as I raised the glass to my mouth, "Will this be a really sweet opening to this beer to balance the malt or just rush right in with bitter?" Answer: It SLAMMED me with bitter. I take that back, there's a light sugary citrus note that floats for just a moment before being comically crushed with an anvil. Despite this barely exaggerated description, there really is more to this beer but you've gotta pay pretty close attention to find it behind the "These-go-to-eleven" level of hops. After the bitter explosion, if you hold the beer in the mouth, you'll get quite an intense resin flavor mixed with a pseudo-balancing citrus sweetness, honey, and some sugary, caramel malts. Not only does holding the beer in the mouth help find these flavors, but so does acclimating your palate to the bitterness. Halfway through the bottle, these flavors become much easier to detect. Good heavens is this beer bitter! The finish is, you guessed it, ridiculously bitter. However, a quicker swig lets the caramel malts help fend off most of the bitterness. The beer is sticky in the back of the throat and makes saliva difficult to swallow.
Adequate carbonation in the beginning, but toward the end of the bottle the carbonation has abandoned ship which does not help to finish off this monster beer. The alcohol warmth is invisible behind the hops and the body is just as heavy as the sticky head and remnants in the back of the throat would have you believe. Normally, I'd say the minimal level of carbonation is perfect, but in a beer this strong and heavy I could really use a few extra bubbles. There is nothing small about the mouthfeel of this beer.
Overall Impression 8/10
For what it is, it's a kick ass beer. No really. It might just kick your ass. Large aroma, gargantuan flavors, and a car crushing mouthfeel all make this not a beer to be taken lightly. True to it's name, it is a palate wrecker. Those looking for balance or nuance look elsewhere. You'll not find it here. If you've got a hankering for hops... this. is. it.
Well, I was looking for hops when I bought this and boy did I find them. This beer absolutely walloped me in the mouth and did not apologize afterwards. It then kicked my cat and pinched a baby. I'm not sure where it got the baby because I don't even have kids. Palate Wrecker is an insanely accurate name and description for this beer. This is both good and bad. It's good because it doesn't leave you wondering if the brewer meant to make a more nuanced, balanced DIPA/IIPA. He/she did not. They made this beer to destroy you. It's bad because FAR more often than not, I want to drink a beer with balance. This beer sacrifices drinkability, balance, nuance, and complexity all in the name of what your tongue can endure.
This is not a beer I could drink every day. It is, without question, a special occasion beer. It's the beer you keep on hand to see how many IBUs your craft beer buddies can take or when you're REALLY in the mood for something hoppy. However, it never claims to be anything but. It says Palate Wrecker right on the friggin' label. What did you think you were getting? Due to its honesty and implying the brewers' intentions, I cannot rate it lower. This beer is exactly what it wants to be. No apologies.