When I was 7 or 8, I was introduced to a movie called Labyrinth starring (among others) David Bowie. I was just a kid who had never had a crush on a boy before, but suddenly here was this wildly eccentric, almost feminine-looking man that completely and absolutely stole my heart. I wanted so badly to be Jennifer Connelly in that movie that I imagined my future wedding dress looking like the one she wore in the iconic masquerade ball scene. Obviously, my life didn’t turn out to be anything like the enchanted and terrifying world of the Goblin King, but that’s probably a good thing.
When I was given a can of Wax Wings Brewing Co‘s Into the Labyrinth: Route 18 I didn’t know what to expect. I saw that it was an “Experimental QIPPPPA.” What the heck is a QIPPPPA anyway? What are all those P’s for? I was more than a little intimidated. Despite my reservations, I decided to crack this open on a Wednesday night and see how weird things could get.
My first impression of this towering 10.5% ABV beer (more than enough for a week night) was one of surprise. After the first few sips went down, I was confused. How could something so strong be so drinkable? I poured it onto a glass and found that it resembled orange juice in color and consistency. While I knew it wasn’t actually orange juice, I honestly still expected to taste pulp. There was no pulp, though, just a lightly fruity, slightly dank, totally delicious treat.
I was curious what the particular hop profile of this beer might turn out to be, so I reached out to Wax Wings and asked. Into the Labyrinth: Route 18 is part of a series, and because they’re experimental the hop bill is not revealed. A mystery, then! Digging into the Labyrinth, indeed! I was also informed that this beer was a quadruple IPA, hence the four P’s, and noted that something with so much punch should be reserved for the weekend.
Because this was such a surprisingly refreshing and smooth beer for how strong it was (quadruple! I mean come on!), I definitely had the sense of being pulled deeper into a maze of excellent flavors. I tend to avoid beers with such a high ABV because it seems that flavor has been sacrificed for complexity and I think there doesn’t have to be either/or. Certainly, Wax Wings Brewing Co has proved that a beer can be complex, high in alcohol, delicious, and easy to drink.
I look forward to more from this brewery. If this is what it’s like to wander through a labyrinth, then it’s no wonder David Bowie was so into it.