Alaskan's "Pilot Series" of ales is pretty much just a series of rotating limited releases, not too different from Deschutes' "Reserves." The main difference being the quality of the latter compared to the former, but that's neither here nor there.
Alaskan's Imperial IPA isn't too bad, though I wouldn't say it's particularly special or anything to create an event around.
It pours a hazy dark copper color with a fairly thick head and decent lacing. Looks nice enough. A sniff reveals the inevitable -- hops. Plenty of hops. Maybe a bit of a citric note, but that's more of a P.S. than anything.
And it is hoppy, yet surprisingly sweet too. The hopiness and the sort of syrup-y sweetness don't really mix particularly well. I assume the idea here was to create something hopheads would love, yet tone it down for the mass market. Understandable, I suppose, from a business perspective, but as far as drinkability goes, this Imperial IPA just has that "well, I get it, but..." thing going for it.
In the end I don't think anyone will be particularly happy with the ale. It's not awful, and might even be refreshing. The 8.5% ABV is hidden well and there is a smoothness here. In the end the mix between hops and sweetness just doesn't do it for me and ruins what could have been an experience.
Vote for Alaskan Imperial IPA: It’s your civic duty!