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What’s in a name?

‘Tis that time of year again. When folks gather ‘round the hearth for a big plate of turkey, roast some marshmallows, relay tales of ghouls and questionable behavior….mmm hmm, ‘Merica. Well, we want to enhance your summer celebrations with a big serving of fireworks for your mouth. Welcome home, Idiot Farm. Wel. Come. Home. Goulet!

Idiot Farm is our Imperial IPA. The style is often referred to as a “double IPA”. This has led to some interesting semantics in the brewing world. Although it has become common to refer to a high-octane version of any beer or beer style as a “double”, the double of “double IPA” does not refer to double the alcohol or double the amount of hops used, it is just smoother than saying “Imperial IPA” or “I IPA”. Think of it as “Double-I, P.A.”  Furthermore, while craft brewers explore the boundaries of style and invent new styles of beer, the waters become further muddied as consumers discover the Belgian beers Dubbel, Tripel, and Quad. It would be logical to conclude that these are simply higher and higher strength versions of one Belgian beer style. It would also be logical for brewers to refer to higher strength versions of any brew as a double, triple, or quad…and some do just that. Well, this topic (just as history) is not nice and neat. A “triple IPA” is not the same as a Tripel. Neither does it mean “Imperial Imperial IPA”. Here’s a discussion thread from Beer Advocate about the Belgian side:

Is my point that everyone is wrong all the time about everything? Sure, why not….am I wrong, then, by confirming that conjecture? (Smoke bellows from ears) Circular logic….does not compute….Great- now I’ve gone cross-eyed.  At least I discovered how to destroy the robots when they take over.

Back to the lecture at hand. Life is messy, and it may be better to refer to the information the brewer provides about a beer to understand what their goals were for your beer experience. Also, keep in mind that craft beer is about fun and exploration. When passing judgment on a brew, I highly recommend using one simple standard: “do you like it”? Just an instant, simple, visceral, emotional snapshot of an answer. Focus on that first and worry about why or why not later. If you are spending more effort fitting a beer into the style-box in your head than wondering if it is a good beer, then I start to wonder if you were potty-trained at gun point. Live a little! Captain, permission to board the fun train? Granted! Welcome aboard!

The Imperial moniker gains its historical roots from the Russian Imperial Stout. This was beer brewed in England for the nineteenth century Russian Imperial Court. The intention was to use greater amounts of alcohol and hops to impress the court. Today, the use of Imperial is a signal  that the brewer is trying to impress you with a supercharged version of whatever style was brewed.

In our case, our flagship IPA, Fantasy Factory IPA, is 6.3% ABV and utilizes 2.9# hops per barrel (about 1.2# hops/barrel dry hop); and Idiot Farm Imperial IPA is 8.4% ABV and utilizes 4.7# hops per barrel (about 2# hops/barrel dry hop). The result is an impressively supercharged experience. Beyond the stats, what makes the experience even better is the use of Citra, Simcoe, and Mosaic hops in equal portions, as well as two types of Belgian candi sugar. Those hops are famously used for making some the greatest IPAs in the world on their own, so we figured why not throw a party and invite all three? Belgian candi sugar is fun. It is used to crank up the alcohol without adding more body to the beer. This is a sugar that has been inverted (sucrose broken down into glucose and fructose) through a cooking process. Sometimes the sugar is caramelized during the cooking process and that can lead to interesting flavors. We used both clear and amber candi sugar.

My wife and I moved to Madison from Montana in 2012. We spent our last New Year’s Eve in Montana with some very special friends in our first home. The standing orders for the evening were board games and copious amounts of adult beverages. Whilst enjoying Clue, and for reasons I still cannot remember, the term Idiot Farm was born. I grabbed the paper pad from my Clue props and drew what can best be described as an internet troll stick figure face. I still have that piece of paper hanging over my desk. As Karben4 developed, we compiled a list of potential beer names and Idiot Farm was always at the top. When we brewed our first Double IPA, the outrageous name seemed to fit the outrageous character of the beer, and Idiot Farm Imperial IPA was born.

We sincerely hope you enjoy it as much as we do.

Slainte Mhath!

Ryan Koga

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