I got this sample from the folks at Double Mountain Brewery & Cidery, located in the absurdly, other-worldly gorgeous Columbia River Gorge, in quaint-but-JUMPIN’ Hood River, Oregon, and groaned audibly when I opened it and saw the label.

What’s wrong?” asked my darlin’ new bride.

I’ve just been PUN-ished by Double Mountain Brewing,” I replied, proud of myself, with what I felt was a justified twinkle in my eye.

Why?” she scowled, “What did you do to them?


I ADORE my wife, in a way that I never expected I was even capable of. But the woman is where Jokes Go To Die; the rocky shoal on which the little boat of humor runs aground. She is inadvertentley funny. (Listening to her learn to pronounce “gewurztraminer” was ten days of riotous fun) And wickedly smart but not inclined to whimsy…

Which brings us to the new Double Mountain “Go Ask Talus” Single Hop IPA.

I had to live with this stuff for the better part of a week to know exactly what to say. It’s…different, which is among the best things I can say about any beer. But it is also the same, which is one of my most vile insults.

What I can tell you, with zero reservations, is that if you are any kind of devout beer geek, freak, or weenie – or even a very adventurous fan – you MUST – repeat “MUST” – run out and find this and try it. And you may very well come to think of it as one of your current favorite ales because, make no mistake about it, the new(ish) Talus hop (developed by John I. Haas, about three years ago) is one crazy little Einstein of a flower. It goes from dank to stunningly complex without breaking a sweat. Flavors innate to this flower cavort around your mouth like some barely-controlled naked bacchanalia. If I ran the world (maybe just the world of beer, as the larger “world” is often more than I can take without screaming), I would REQUIRE the first few customers of the hops suppliers’ new additions to do a single-hop IPA as a showcase that explains, in a way that not even the most dense beer newbie could miss, what that varietal is all about.

This may not work in every single case. Citra, became an instant sensation and became so wildly over-used, so fast, that it was in practically everything for about a year. The reason was clear: “Citra” says, “FRUIT!!” in its outdoor voice and it did deliver that…but what Citra also delivered, when used clumsily or at the wrong stage of the brew, was ONIONS, a wickedly unpleasant attribute that caused me to decline to review a new beer from one of my very favorite PNW breweries, which has since whipped the problem and now has a dandy hazy IPA in the cans. Most hops do NOT express weird, jarring aromas/flavors like that but some are just rather one-note and while that one note CAN be delightful, it is sometimes just not enough to be interesting.

No problem there with Talus.

Here’s The Same part: Talus exhibits a frank, straight-forward, unornamented dankness, that big-but-narrow flavor profile that was beaten unto grim death at least eight, ten years ago: grapefruit, savory herbs, and pine needles, the bitterness model that became synonymous with “IPA” for a long time. IPAs which did NOT show that were often ridiculed by HopHeads of the 90s and 00s. For those folks, IPA was about THAT and it took a long fuggen time for the insane range of other hops attributes to register as “hoppy”. In many early IPAs, any of the other flavors like citrus fruit, flowers, spices, tree fruit, melon, and even candied flavors of new hops seemed…puzzling to HopHeads. I was in a beer shop in Seattle when Deschutes new experimental ale using the just-released hybrid called “Lemon Drop” was on tap and ordered one at the same time as the twenty-something sitting next to me. I sipped mine and, uh, got all warm ‘n’ runny, while the young guy looked at the bartender and said, “This isn’t an IPA!

What makes you say that?” the bartender asked.

It…it doesn’t taste like hops!” the youngster sputtered.

Do you taste lemons?” the bartender probed.

Yeah,” the young guy replied, “So?

So that’s the hops!” the bar guy answered.

The young man sat and stared at the glass for easily twenty full seconds. He sipped again and set the glass on the bar.

I don’t get it,” he sighed, “It…it doesn’t taste like an IPA.

Talus tastes like an IPA, the same way the kid meant it.

BUT…and here’s why the “run right out and by it” thing: it has layers of a bunch of other things that normally are NOT spoken by any one type of hops that shows that hallmark dankness. You normally have to blend craftily to wind up with the herb/pine character AND the flowers and fruit and spices. My Oregon friend, Jeff Alworth, reviewed his sample and mentioned mango versus mangosteen, which IS an attribute of this beer, but the distinction may be lost on some folks who know only the more glitzy mango and not its wallflower weirdo cousin, the mangosteen, which leans toward lychi, peaches, pineapple, and sometimes strawberries, where mangos are that little beach party complex of tangerines/oranges, yellow peaches, guava, cantaloupe, and even caramel or cucumber or white grapes or apricots. In this, he’s dead-on: mangosteen is right up front in Talus, with emphatically PINK grapefruit, coconut, gooseberries, star fruit, kiwi, and an inexplicably creamy note that tastes like those little after-dinner mints. The balance? Definitely leans toward the dankness, with those other flavors playing wingman to the traditional piney seduction that’s gonna make this puppy a go-to hop with any remaining recovering HopHeads.

Somehow, the crew at DM has managed to provide a base of malts that actually makes its presence felt behind that shower of flowers and those add a fat, nutty backbone that yanks the whole thing back from an outright hops fetish.

Bottom Line: This is a FINE effort from DM, a thoughtful, focused attempt to showcase an unfamiliar type of hops that you may have little or no experience with. This comes with the usual caveat that hops are going to taste and smell and react very differently depending on how they’re used and where in the brewing process they are introduced. But having sat and eaten one of these flowers now, I think what you taste, as evident in this ale, is going to be quite close to what most brewers will get out of it. If the dankness hammers at my “Meh” button, everything else about it pegs the enjoyment meter at 10, maybe 11.

And…that heinous pun…well, it’s at least memorable, right? Whomever came up with it should be taken out into a field, stripped naked, and beaten on the kidneys with throw pillows until they get a serious rash. Pro Tip: Hold the bottle with the label in the palm of your hand, so no one can see it, and put it in the recycle bin immediately after pouring. Then, revenge having been extracted, enjoy this beer…which you will, pretty much guaranteed.

One thought on “Double Mountain “Go Ask Talus”: Great Beer, Bad Pun

Speak yer piece, Pilgrim.

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