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?