Saturday, April 30, 2011

Double IPAs — Dick's Brewing Co. vs. Hopworks Urban Brewery (HUB)

Dick's Brewing Co.
Imperial IPA

ABV 8.6%

Bright, clear orange.
Sharp pine with some sweet fruitiness.
Big, bitter pine at first, then floral honey sweetness.
Hops vs. Malts
(Hoppy, Malty or Balanced):
Finish: Hoppy honey, moderate bitterness.
Overall (Fantastic, Good, Mediocre or Bad):

HUB Ace of Spades
Imperial IPA
ABV 9.5%

Murky, dirty orange.
Aroma: Clean, soapy, with spicy pine.
Flavor: Acidic, grassy, piny with slight fruity sweetness.
Hops vs. Malts (Hoppy, Malty or Balanced): Hoppy
Finish: Extremely bitter. Burnt grapefruit rind with intense tannins.
Overall (Fantastic, Good, Mediocre or Bad): Good -

Blow by Blow
OK, with this being the third double IPA battle in the last five weeks, we're officially in the midst of a serious hop binge. Trying the likes of Pliny the Elder, Widmer Nelson (formerly Deadlift), and Double Jack has us craving that balance of extreme hops and sweet malts that can create bottled bliss.

This time around we battled the highly regarded Ace of Spades from the popular and successful Hopworks Urban Brewery in Portland against the new Imperial IPA from Dick's Brewing Company, a long-running but often overlooked brewery from Centralia Washington.

As I am often aware of popular opinion regarding the beers we try, Ellen usually pours them so that I can judge the beers blind. So, I left the room, Ellen poured the beers and the battle was on.

Right off the bat the Dick's had the upper hand with a bright, clear orange color as opposed to the murky Ace of Spades. In the aroma they both were dominated by spicy, piny hops with the Ace of Spades also coming across a bit soapy. Neither had the big, juicy citrus and floral notes that are prevalent in some of our favorite double IPAs, but they were both very aromatic.

The Dick's also had a more appealing flavor with a good floral honey malt sweetness to balance the piny hop bitterness. The bottle says that they used "all Columbus hops" in the beer which seems pretty unique as most double IPAs out there use a mixture of different hops to achieve their target hop profile.

The Ace of Spades is not what we would call a balanced beer. The flavor is a shock to the tongue with sharp pine notes and acidity. The fruity malt is in there somewhere, but it's hard to taste it behind all the bitter, grassy hoppy flavors.

As you might expect at this point, the Dick's emerged victorious with a pleasant finish that was like hoppy honey (I think I might try to make some hop honey to put on biscuits or toast!) The Ace of Spades continued to stick to its guns just like Lemmy, and finished with a massive burnt grapefruit rind bitterness that seemed intent on bludgeoning our taste buds much like a Motorhead song might bludgeon your ears. So, I guess HUB succeeded in making a beer befitting of its name, but its bad ass moniker couldn't help it from getting owned by the far less brash offering from Dick's.

Winner by unanimous decision: Dick's Brewing Company


  1. I feel like you may have had a bottle of Ace of Spades that wasn't stored properly. Never seen or heard it described as murky nor soapy...

  2. Anything is possible. I can assure you that it was murky in comparison to the Dick's. As far as the soapiness, everyone's tasting vocabulary is different, so perhaps others are using different terms for what we were detecting.

    We'd be willing to try it again if you want to send us a bottle. :)

  3. That is one tasty bottle battle! I agree with your decision. Ace of Spades is one huge monster. It's great, but it's a bit too sweet. The Dick's was a real pleasant surprise. Good balance and with the price difference, Dick's wins. I shall be looking to buy more bottles.