Wednesday, August 31, 2011

IPA — 21st Amendment Brewery vs. Widmer Brothers Brewing

21st Amendment Brewery
Brew Free! or Die IPA
ABV 7%

Clear deep golden yellow.
Funky and perfumy with some sweet, burnt malt aromas.
Light body with simple citrus.
Hops vs. Malts
(Hoppy, Malty or Balanced):
Finish: Mild bitterness.
Overall (Fantastic, Good, Mediocre or Bad):

Widmer Brothers Brewing
Rotator IPA Series

Falconer's IPA
ABV 7%

Clear reddish orange.
Aroma: Piny hops with sweet malt undertones.
Flavor: Sweet at first then herbal, piny and bitter.
Hops vs. Malts (Hoppy, Malty or Balanced): Hoppy
Finish: Moderate citrus peel bitterness.
Overall (Fantastic, Good, Mediocre or Bad): Good -

Blow by Blow
We recently picked up a mixed case of Widmer and were pleased to find Falconer's IPA inside which is the latest in their Rotator Series of IPAs. Their previous Rotator IPA (X-114) was already a winner so we were curious to see if the next in the series was good as well. We matched it up with a canned IPA from 21st Amendment in San Francisco for a Can vs. Bottle, California vs. Oregon IPA throwdown.

The Falconer's IPA is named after the special hop blend that they used in the brewing called Falconer's Flight. It's a popular new blend of hops that was created to honor the late Northwest brewing legend, Glen Hay Falconer. Nothing against Glen, who I'm sure was a great guy, but so far we haven't been a fan of beers that use his namesake hop blend. The Widmer was dominated by pine and herbal notes and was a tad too bitter in the finish for our liking. The 21st Amendment had a complex aroma that gave us high hopes, but the flavor didn't live up to the aroma, offering a simple citrus character that was fine but not inspiring. 

Both beers were serviceable hoppy IPAs, but neither captured that elusive balance of sweet and bitter that makes for a great IPA. Reach for the Falconer's if you want something with a more aggressive hop profile and pour yourself a Brew Free! or Die if you want something with a great hop aroma that is a bit easier on the palate.

Winner by unanimous decision: 21st Amendment

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