It was green week in the Oregon IPA Challenge. Somehow the last round was dominated by green labels. Next month, the exciting conclusion!
The worst beer was Two Dogs IPA from Coalition Brewing. One whiff and every taster grimaced. It was like B.O. — a gym locker full of sweat socks. Extra gassy, it did not go down smooth. Extra yeasty, maybe it was infected, or over pitched. Not good.
In third place we had Terminal Gravity’s IPA. A balanced beer with a nutty character and a peppery bitterness, like fresh arugula, semi-sweet and not too harsh.
It was a close tie for first place, as always. Two beers tied exactly. One was all citrus— fresh squeezed ruby red grapefruit juice, a summer beer with a healthy bitter kick. The other was balanced with a short aftertaste and a more complex aroma, green and piney, tongue coating thickness and a progressive bitterness.
The usual tie breaker didn’t work out; the two beers had exactly the same scores. And so, we trusted our impartial master of ceremonies, my wife Sarah, to taste the two and make the final call. I was pulling for the fresher, citrus crush of the first beer, but I was denied. Goodlife Brewing and Descender IPA took second place, and our winner was Caldera Brewing. Both are great beers, but I feel a little betrayed.
Bend, Oregon is home of tons of breweries; it’s where Deschutes got started, 10 Barrel, Boneyard, Bend Brewing, the freshly opened Crux Fermentation Project, and GoodLife Brewing. This is the first GoodLife brew I’ve tried, Mountain Rescue Pale Ale. I’m getting a little sick of grapefruit scents. I can smell a grapefruity beer all day, but the taste never seems to hold up. Mountain Rescue isn’t a bad beer; it’s just not quite balanced.
Balance is a tricky concept to explain. GoodLife contains both bitter and sweet elements, but it’s not elegant. The transition from sweet citrus hops to bitter, dry tea hops is a little off. The malt doesn’t pick up the slack. There is malt, bready, but not really that strong. I don’t know if that’s really a balance issue, but I don’t have any other term to refer to the phenomenon.
It used to be a lot easier to drink a beer and say “I like it,” or “I don’t like it.”