Confused? Well if not, you darn well ought to be, because I know I was, and to a certain extent, still am!
From time to time I get sent bottles of beer to taste and review. Several months ago I received a beer called Waldos' Special Ale; an 11.3% Imperial IPA brewed by Lagunitas. Described as the dankest and hoppiest beer ever brewed at Lagunitas, it's also presumably one of the strongest the company has brewed as well.
I don't mind strong beers per se, but I have to be in the right frame of mind, and also in the right place, to want to drink one. It's perhaps not surprising then that this particular bottle sat unopened in my fridge for all that time.
Waldos' Special Ale is described as either a Triple IPA or an Imperial IPA. With an ABV of 11.3%, it is a not a beer for the faint of heart. It has a vinous feel, with a real resinous mouth-feel, no doubt due to the copious amounts of hops used in the brewing.
So definitely not an everyday beer, and not even one for special occasions, but despite this, or perhaps even because of it people on sites such as Rate Beer and Beer Advocate are all over this super-strength beer. This may possibly have something to do with the rather ridiculous and over-hyped story behind it.
The story involves a group of five American students, called the Waldos, who attended San Rafael High School in Marin County, California . The students called themselves the "Waldos" because their chosen "hang-out spot" was a wall outside the school. They had a plan to search for an abandoned cannabis crop that they had learned about, based on a "treasure map" made by the grower of the weed.
Well I expect you're feeling as under-whelmed as I am by this story, and probably wondering why this obscure non-event was chosen as the inspiration behind this limited edition beer? Perhaps if your origins are steeped in West Coast "counter-culture," the "Waldos" might mean something, but for the rest of us the story is definitely something of a turn-off.
A shame really as it's an interesting beer, and some may even say a truly great one. I haven't drunk enough of these high-octane, uber-strength IPA's to be able to form an opinion, one way or the other, but I'm still pleased to have had the opportunity to enjoy this one.
So Lagunitas, thanks for the beer, but next time please spare us the obscure, far-out, trippy-hippy, Californian references, because most of us just don't dig it, man!