IPA blind tasting throwdown!

In Beer on May 12, 2010 at 4:57 am

Yes, I know, it’s a wine blog, but I think about beer too.

So, even with our store having the biggest beer selection in Idaho, there are still a few things we can’t get our hands on in Boise. One of my dad’s favorites is Bear Republic’s Racer 5 IPA, and one of my favorites is Dogfish Head’s 60 minute IPA. There have been more than a few discussions about the relative merits of these two beers, and about how they stack up to others which are more readily available to us. So, in the interest of fairness and objectivity, we decided to have a blind tasting. We tasted 6 beers in all. The Racer 5 and Dogfish Head, as well as New Belgium’s Ranger IPA, 21st Amendment Brewery’s Brew Free or Die IPA, Stone IPA, and Maritime Pacific’s Limited Release IPA.

They were arranged blind in no particular order. Our combined tasting notes, in the order tasted are as follows. All beers were tasted from 12-oz bottle, except the 21st Amendment, which was in a 12-oz can.

1) Muted, mild floral hops on the nose, a bit one-dimensional, and more like a pale ale.

2) Bigger, sweeter malty nose, hops seem a bit cooked, and more subtle in the finish.

3) Super bright, fresh floral, citric hops, bright and clean in the mouth.

4) Malty, dusty, funky nose, less fresh, but with good hoppy character on the palate from front to back.

5) Great, fresh, floral aromatics. Great bitterness, clean, superb from start to finish.

6) Another clean, fresh beer, smooth in the middle, bright, and very well-balanced.

Aaaaaand the final reveal…..

1)  21st Amendment Brew Free or Die

2) Dogfish Head 60 Minute

3) New Belgium Ranger IPA

4) Maritime Pacific Limited Release IPA

5) Bear Republic Racer 5

6) Stone IPA

Now, my dad feels very strongly that an IPA should be bright and fresh, and therefore had a very clear order of preference:

Racer 5, Stone, Ranger, 21st Amendment, Dogfish Head, and Maritime.

I, on the other hand, had a harder time drawing such a clear line, since the Maritime and Dogfish Head were more of a malty Imperial IPA style, and thus harder to compare directly.  I liked the Racer 5, Stone, and Ranger in that order, but I wouldn’t call them all necessarily better than the Dogfish Head, just different in style. On the last two, I’d take the 21st Amendment over the Maritime.

The good news for both me and my dad from this tasting is that we liked Stone IPA, which is regularly available in Boise, nearly as much as the mythical Bear Republic Racer 5

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