This place is huge. It’s a massive old industrial warehouse or factory. They filled it up with mismatched tables and chairs and opened the taps. There is enough room in here for an army, but the happy hour crowd is sort of dead.
I always forget about the Lucky Lab. There’s a pub in every quadrant of the city, but I never think to visit. But then I was drinking that Dogzilla from Laughing Dog. I was convinced all day that Laughing Dog was Lucky Lab. It’s not.
There is a group of college intern girls at the next table. I think they’re planning a wedding. There are some older guys at a big table, two guys and two pitchers. There are some desk jockeys in suits.
I went with the Alt to start things off. It’s brown; it’s off the cask; it’s super hoppy. Alt is one of those subtle styles like English brown ales that are distinctive but hard to emulate. This is not a good example. The sandwich is good though. Over priced, but tasty.
Do they ever fill this place up? There is another giant room over there, and a patio outside.
The Super Dog IPA is the flagship beer around here. It’s crisp and hoppy with that citrus tinge. I can’t tell if it’s a knock on the IPA or the Alt, but they have the exact same hop profile. Exactly the same.
I’m not impressed.
Can I go wrong with the 2010 Old Yeller barley wine? Nope. This is amazing. Why do people even bother making poorly executed alts?
Old Yeller is tasty. Caramel and citrus and pine and vanilla and — is that wood? Burnt wood? Oh my god? Is that a hint of juniper and gin? This beer is blowing my mind. This single beer pulled the Lucky Lab from mediocre to really, actually quite good.
Where are all the dogs? I thought this was a dog friendly bar.
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!
My bottle of Sierra Nevada’s Hoptimum is probably old, probably really old. I don’t feel like figuring out the mathematical jargon on the neck, but this beer has probably been on the shelf for a while. It started out like a proper double IPA, juicy and sweet — toffee, orange, and caramel. But this bottle quickly turned barleywine on me. Suddenly, my Hoptimum became a Bigfoot — bitter and dry, earthy and piney. I guess that’s what happens with ten percent beers with a little time. I’m not complaining; it’s still interesting.
I remember Torpedo being better. It started out right — you know, grapefruit and stuff, but it went south. It got all dirty and bitter and burnt. Pine and onion dominated with a bready backbone. Is it the cans?
Stone’s 16th Anniversary IPA finished off our IPA tasting. It is a bold beer full of citrus and a big, big bitterness that leaves the tongue dried like beef jerky. There are layers of pine and earthy onions. Perhaps a little to big and too bitter.
The Oregon IPA Invitational is moving along. This weekend we compared IPAs from Southern Oregon Brewing, Fort George, Gigantic, and Seven Brides Brewing. Of course, our tasters didn’t know which beer they were trying.
Up first we tried Nice Rack from Southern Oregon Brewing. The fruitiness was pretty intense; I got pineapple, orange pulp. I thought it was a great summer IPA. Tristan found it buttery and was the first to note the honey in the back. The finish was bitter and piney.
Second, Fort George’s Vortex IPA came out strong. Dad thought it was really nutty, walnuts? The bitter aftertaste really stuck around according to Dan. I figured it was Vortex, and I was right.
Next, I had the pleasure of revisiting Gigantic’s excellent IPA. It was the fruitiest of the bunch. Unlike Nice Rack, Gigantic’s IPA had a full, rounded grapefruit flavor. Great kick in the mouth. Tristan found it overwhelming, but I thought it was perfect.
And lastly, Frankenlou’s IPA from Seven Brides. Tristan sniffed out some raspberry, but summed up the taste in one word: “Blech!” I have to agree. This was not tasty. It was so dark and burnt. Just a bitter, bitter beer.
The scores gave a clear winner and loser. Gigantic took the prize. SOB and Fort George took second and third. Seven brides was the clear loser.
The Alpine Beer Company is one of those well regarded, well hidden breweries.They make great, hoppy beers. I haven’t tried them, but apparently they are delicious. Alpine teamed up with New Belgium — makers of Fat Tire and other stuff — to make Super India Pale Ale. It’s a double IPA and it is amazing.
I poured it out and all I could smell was pineapple. So much pineapple lead to pine. And then everything changed, lime smells and citrus flavors. Then it was all grassy and herbaceous — I swear I know the herb but I can’t place it, rosemary or sage or something — with some intense pine and juniper. Then it got more earthy like onions. And never did I taste the nine percent alcohol or malt sweetness. I could drink this and get confused and delighted for days.
Wookey Jack is an interesting Black IPA. A creamy, citrusy head leads to a milk chocolatey middle and a grapefruit and pine finish. The pine is almost minty. At one point all I could think was: chocolate covered orange! The full body complements the chocolate but after it’s settled, Wookey Jack is more of a regular IPA.
I got the memo. I know it’s IPA day. That’s why I brought out the Homefront IPA from Fremont Brewing. It’s a classic IPA. To me at least, it tastes like home. Weirdly, it was brewed with oranges and Louisville Slugger bats. I guess the bats add some woody dryness. The oranges seem to come through, but that may just be hops. The citrus in this beer is light. It smells like oranges; it tastes sort of like oranges. Mostly it tastes like pine trees. Not heavy, mean pine trees. Just light and fresh pine trees. It’s not sweet; it’s dry with just enough malty toast. Everything works in conjunction. This is the sort of IPA I fell in love with.
It’s Hop Venom from Boneyard. Another IPA, another delicious IPA. There must be a problem with me. Even when an IPA is delicious — full of fruit juice, pineapple, oranges, lemons, grapefruit. It’s got all the right notes — citrus turning into pine, a hint of sweetness. It’s not too malty — just sweet and juicy, not caramel and sugar. And the finish is dry — if a bit rummy, 10% ABV and all. But I’m just sort of bored. I need a new style, a new flavor. I need a new beer.