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Imperial IPA's emerge in New Orleans breweries 

One of the most venerated styles of beer in the American craft beer world is the double (or imperial) IPA. A super hoppy and high-alcohol version of the standard IPA, Russian River's Pliny the Elder and The Alchemist's Heady Topper are prime examples. Although Louisiana's beer palate is still developing cautiously, several of the state's breweries are confident in the style's appeal and are providing local hopheads with double/imperial IPA goodness.

  NOLA Brewing's (www.nolabrewing.com) Mechahopzilla (named for brewmaster Peter Caddoo's monstrous love of hops) was first brewed in 2012, owner Kirk Coco says, even though distributors and retailers said no one would like such a strong and hoppy beer.

  "We all loved the style, so we thought, 'Let's just do one batch.'" Coco says. "When people told us that no one would drink it, I was actually OK with that because it's so expensive to make." The brewery brewed 40 barrels (approximately 80 kegs) of Mechahopzilla, thinking supply would last for six months. It sold out in one.

  Chafunkta Brewing (www.chafunktabrew.com) released its Voo Ka Ray imperial IPA as a flagship beer when it opened in 2013. Owner Josh Erickson says it's his favorite style. "We use a late-hopping technique, which requires that you use more hops than usual at the end of the boil, giving you lots of hop flavor without a ton of palate-ruining bitterness," Erickson says. "I wanted to enjoy the hops without destroying the palate."

  Parish Brewing's (www.parishbeer.com) Andrew Godley recently brewed the first commercial batch of Ghost in the Machine double IPA, scheduled for release in February. Ghost in the Machine uses 30 times more hops than Canebrake. Godley describes the beer as "hop juice" and adds, "I hope lots of people try it and are slightly offended by the amount of dank, bitter hops they find in the glass of beer before them." — NORA McGUNNIGLE

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