Imperial beers are as much about creativity as they are extremity. So maybe I shouldn’t have been quite as surprised as I was to spy O’so’s Lupulin Maximus on a shelf in a Milwaukee liquor store and think, “Does that label really say what I think it says?” Upon closer inspection, yes, it really did: “WARNING: bottle may contain hop cone.”

Hmm…shouldn’t that read: “AWESOME: bottle contains hop cone”?

No matter; I was sold. And never mind that I had a hell of a time extracting it from the bottle (not sure if they’re supposed to come out or not). If that’s not a proper garnish for an Imperial IPA, I don’t know what is.

Thankfully, Lupulin Maximus has more going for it than just the hop cone. It’s delightfully (and perhaps dangerously) refreshing for a DIPA, and packs a delicious hop recipe…resinous, sticky, and citrusy. The faint tinge of alcohol is present in every sip as well, which gives the aftertaste a little extra kick. But my unsung hero in the bottle has to be the malt bill. When drinking Imperial IPAs, it’s easy to find yourself wondering if the malt does anything more than color your beer. But the more you drink of this stuff, the more you notice toasted honey flavors working their way into the mix. This would be the perfect brew to start in the mid-afternoon and nurse until early evening; there’s a lot going on that you don’t want to miss by just quaffing it.

So, what gives? If anything, this beer suffers because 1) it’s not available outside of Wisconsin, and 2) there are just so many other epic American Imperial IPAs. I want to say that it grabbed my attention and then throttled my taste buds with incredible, there’s-a-hop-cone-in-my-beer intensity…but it really just grabbed my attention. It’s delicious stuff, don’t get me wrong. I just wouldn’t put it in a tier with the likes of Hopslam and Pliny the Elder (although it’s not far off). The hop cone sure is cool, though.