Monday, September 1, 2008

Blind IPA tasting

The other day a few friends and I were bored, so I decided on a blind IPA test. What better way then go back and try a bunch of the bottled IPAs I haven't had in a while.

I tend to be obsessed with trying new beers, so I don't remember the last time I had a Bridgeport or Full Sail IPA. I head out and pick up 7 IPAs, here's what was included:
1. Bridgeport IPA
2. Full Sail IPA
3. Anderson Valley IPA
4. Victory Hop Devil
5. Bear Republic Racer 5
6. Deschutes Inversion IPA
7. Russian River Pliny

I thought about what else to get, maybe put a control beer like Bud in just to mess with everyone, see who was paying attention. We had one of our friends kindly bring all of them into another room and pour so we had no idea what we were drinking. The one downfall was we didn't have enough glasses to have them all in front of us at once, so it was difficult to compare since you couldn't taste back and forth between a few. Next time I would change that.

I thought a few would seriously stand out, but surprisingly the field for me was split in half, a cluster of nice floral IPAs, and a cluster of blah IPAs.

Here are my final results:
1. Pliny - this was just beautiful and floral, the bitterness was mellow allowing the most hop character to show through.

2. Bear Republic Racer 5 - actually ran right up there with Pliny, a touch more malt up front and the bitterness not quite as mellow

3. Deschutes Inversion - I wasn't sure this would stack up that well, but this is actually had a really nice hop character, more of a sharp bitterness then the top two.

The rest were 4. Victory Hop Devil, 5. Bridgeport IPA, 6. Full Sail IPA.

Lastly was Anderson Valley IPA, although this bottle had something wrong with it, oxidized and very funny malt flavor, surely not what is normal, so I'll say it was down to 6 IPAs total.

I found the bottom 2 to have more of a grainy malt base flavor, almost metallic note to the bitterness, and a lack of floral hop character. Maybe lack of dry hopping.

The most interesting thing about this for me was how I viewed these beers before the test compared to after. Some of these like Victory Hop Devil I haven't had in two years probably, and remember as being phenomenal. I thought Pliny would stand out more, but the Racer 5 and Inversion were right up there.

It was also interesting to see each friends scores, each varied quite a bit, showing each persons preference towards hop variety and bitterness.

My last thought was what beers I was missing. I thought, there has to be better Oregon IPAs in bottles that I could include, my only thought was TG IPA, but that isn't around much any more.

What else is out there that I'm missing?

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