It might be new but there is something familiar about Feral’s Imperial Biggie.
Sure, the souped up East Coast IPA was on show at the recent GABS events so there are many fresh beer seekers who have tasted the 8% brew.
But Imperial Biggie’s debut in cans today takes Feral down a road they have been before.
The latest beer is the result of brewer Will Irving taking the much-loved Biggie Juice and ramping it up to 11.
The original nectar, with the boar’s head on the label, had plenty of grunt in the marketplace with 1400 cases released in Perth late March disappearing from bottle shops in a week. Demand is still high three months later.
So Irving was confident that by boosting the flavour with even more hops and raising the ABV, Imperial Biggie would have just as much appeal among juicy brew lovers.
And the advance follows a successful trend Feral experienced a few years earlier.
“The move from Biggie to the Imperial is similar to what we had with Hop Hog and War Hog,” Irving said.
“Hop Hog was so successful for us. We were always going to make a stronger version with War Hog but it was about timing and making sure it was ready for the market.
“We don’t want the beer to just be a passing fad. We want it to be a solid step up from what we hope is a staple beer in people’s fridges.”
While Imperial Biggie was targeted for GABS, Feral wanted the beer to have a life beyond the festivals.
And it is a method that has brought the WA brewery considerable success. Watermelon Warhead, Karma Citra and Dark Matter are among the GABS beers that have had wider release under the Feral label.
“We were always going to package our GABS beer,” Irving said. “We have done a few weird and wonderful beers for GABS. Some have made it, some haven’t.
“In this instance I wanted to make a beer that we can have a pint of with mates and it not be a weird and wonderful one-off. I want to make something we can keep going with and we have got that element with Imperial Biggie.”
Biggie Juice has been around for a couple of years, starting in bottles featuring a likeness of late US rapper Biggie Smalls before a move into cans displaying walking bacon, and the offering has capitalised on the emergence of New England IPA brews.
Underpinned by Amarillo, Galaxy and Vic Secret hops there is the tasting sensation of sticking your tongue in a tropical fruit bowl on first sip of the beer. It is as sweet as Shirley Temple and drinkers have flocked to the style, particular the Feral incarnation.
Irving said he had made minor alterations to the dry-hopping process – mainly adding in a greater percentage of the green and yellow goodness – to lift Biggie Juice to the Imperial Biggie level. The new beer is a limited edition release – at this stage.
Interestingly there was concern within Feral an East Coast IPA didn’t have a long-term place in the sector. Some believed that type of beer was a passing fad. Irving thought otherwise.
“When I was in Nashville recently breweries were opening up specifically based on that style of that beer. These venues had multiple NEIPAs in their core range – or even had it as their only offering,” Irving said.
“There certainly weren’t many breweries based on Cascadian Dark Ales or Brut IPAs opening up.
“Hops are the thing. There is something addictive about them. And people love them in the NEIPAs.”