The Oregon IPA Invitational is finally finished. It only took six months. Five beers entered last night, and one walked away the winner. I would like to thank all our tasters and guinea pigs. We couldn’t do it without you.
The first beer up was fruity — an orangey scent, but extra bitter with a surprising alcohol burn. Sara says it tasted pink. Dan was afraid it would all be downhill from here. Mitch said it was bland and uninspiring. But Mitch liked number two the best, so don’t listen to him.
Our second beer was totally off, completely and totally screwed up. An IPA shouldn’t taste like that. Smokey, like bacon — Sara said it tastes like it’s on fire. It was super cloudy like fresh apple cider. Chelsea wrote that smokey the beer says don’t drink alone, or this beer at all. It was chocolaty and weird. It was a bottle from Captured by Porches, a surprise winner in an earlier round. They package their beers in recycled swing-top bottles, which don’t seal perfectly. These two bottles were probably infected.
Caroline and Tristan thought the third beer smelled like cat pee, which turned all our tasters off — for a few minutes. Smells like oranges and tastes like grapefruit, with a hint of pine. I even got a hint of cinnamon. Tristan didn’t hate it.
Beer four didn’t have much to recommend it. It was just beer. Dan ranked it number two, but it just bitter and meh. Weak and bland. Mitch hated it. He wanted to water the lawn with it — like the fast food of beer. Chelsea said it had a bitter heart with a left over box of chocolates.
The fifth and final beer probably got a little ignored. We were all a little bored at this point. Everything was tasting similar. Tristan said it tasted like nail polish remover. Dan said it was just OK — balanced but not exciting. A crispy, bitter November day according to Chelsea.
When the voting finished, beer one, Inversion IPA from Deschutes Brewery came out on top. But then Mitch showed up and turned the whole contest upside down. Gigantic, beer number three, moved up a few points and tied it up. But no vote is a real contest without a recount.
OUR WINNER AND IPA CHAMPION IS: GIGANTIC IPA!
The second round of the First Annual Oregon IPA Invitational Blind Taste Test Challenge Tournament for Supremacy was last night. And it was fun. I called it the Portland round, all the beers come from smaller breweries within city limits, give or take. At the store I also found another two Oregon brewed IPAs, so I might need to add a fifth round of competition.
The first beer we sampled was the IPA from Burnside Brewing. I haven’t had too many of their beers. My sister Michelle liked it best. It was light and refreshing, not too much bitterness, an afternoon beer. I thought there was a lot of floral nectar, honey flavor with a bit of orange peel. Dan thought it tasted sort of hefe-y, a lawn mowing beer. Jay called it average, and added, that’s all I gotta say.
The second beer was Laurelwood Brewing’s Gearhead IPA. I wanted to use their Workhorse IPA, but it’s been hard to find lately. I think they are having trouble sourcing hops for the Workhorse, but Gearhead was a decent stand in. Michelle wrote that it is smooth and light, but solid. Dan thought it was really similar to the Burnside IPA, but more IPA-y, stronger and maybe a bit sweeter. Jay thought it had a sweeter smell, but some edginess, not a lot of bite. I noticed more grapefruit and more bitter finish, less polite.
The third beer was Captured by Porches’ Invasive Species IPA. Technically, Porches is brewed in St. Helens, but they operate two buses that pour pints in Portland parking lots, so they have Portland street cred. Invasive Species had more pine flavor and scent, a much stronger bitter bite. It really sticks to your mouth’s bones. Paul focused on the bitterness in the back of the throat. Dan thought it was the most like a real IPA, strongest flavor, dry, bitter. Also not his favorite. In the end he voted for it based on it’s IPA-ness. Jay said he could drink Invasive Species all day.
The fourth beer was Alameda’s El Torero, which was returned to the sweet, orange and caramel from the earlier contenders. Paul smelled a lot of honey, though I thought it lacked the floral freshness of the Burnside. Dan thought it was a bit wheat-y. Jay thought it was only good with fruit, but very smooth.
In the end the scores were very, very close. The Invasive Species and Burnside IPA were tied for first, and the Laurelwood and Alameda were tied for third. And the difference between them all was only a single point. All the beers tasted really similar, and none of them were really traditional. I tried to chalk up the similarities to age and staleness, but none of them were labeled with bottling dates or even best by dates. In the end we awarded the title to Captured by Porches and the Invasive Species based on the number of firsts choices it received. Surprisingly, they call it an English style IPA, not west coast. Is it weird that we found it the most traditional?
This is another beer that interested me.
Captured by Porches Miskatonic Dark Rye is only one if two non IPA rye beers I’ve ever had. I always wondered what rye tastes like because so many other beers cover it up with hops. It reminds me of Upright #6 down to the tangy finish. It doesn’t have the yeasty tang of the Upright, but the special rye flavor is there.