Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Yet Another IPA Battle — Green Flash Brewing vs. Boulevard Brewing

Green Flash Brewing
West Coast IPA
ABV 7.3%

Boulevard Brewing
Single Wide IPA
ABV 5.7%

The selection of IPAs and Beerworks seems to be never ending. Man we love living on the west coast!

The Single Wide IPA hails from Boulevard Brewing in Kansas City and was recommended by a friend in Seattle. The West Coast IPA is a heavy hitter from Green Flash Brewing in San Diego that we've tried on draft before.

The aromas were both impressive but quite different with the Single Wide offering up floral hops, grain and citrus and the West Coast countering with funky, earthy piny hops. Hops were dominant in both throughout the flavor but the West Coast really took it to another level with an intense caramel maltiness along with the piny bitterness. The Single Wide finished moderately bitter and the West Coast finished with an intensely harsh, long lasting, burnt hop bitterness. Neither really fit our palates — the Single Wide lacked a bit in body and flavor and the West Coast was completely over the top and seemed more like a double IPA.

We both went back and forth on which we liked better with Ellen finally choosing the Single Wide because the West Coast was so intense she couldn't imagine drinking an entire pint. While I agreed with Ellen that the Single Wide was a nice, easy drinking IPA, I ultimately chose the West Coast because after tasting it the Single Wide just seemed weak in comparison.
Split Decision: Ellen chose the Single Wide, I chose the West Coast

Monday, February 20, 2012

Pale Ales — Deschutes vs. New Planet (Gluten Free)

Deschutes Red Chair NWPA
(Northwest Pale Ale)
ABV 6.2%

New Planet
Off Grid Pale Ale
(Gluten Free Beer)
ABV 5%

This wasn't much of a fight. As a matter of fact it was a bit sad. The Off Grid just got destroyed by the Red Chair. Total domination. For the sake of New Planet and gluten-free beer drinkers everywhere we can only hope that the bottle we tried was stored improperly or somehow infected because it was really bad. It was an undercarbonated, thin mess of a beer that had vegetal notes and tasted mostly of sweet malt extract. There was little to no hop presence aside from a barely perceptible bitterness in the finish. If this beer was even close to what other gluten-free beers taste like we extend our deepest sympathies to beer-lovers with gluten intolerance.

The Deschutes on the other hand was amazing. Perhaps its positive attributes were heightened by the dismal competition, but we loved every part of it, from the tropical fruit hop character in the aroma to the smooth and balanced malty base that complemented the hops just right. It's a beer that is so well crafted and easy to drink that it might cause you to contemplate drinking the whole six pack. It's a seasonal release so hurry and get yourself some while it's still around!  

Winner by Unanimous Decision: Deschutes Red Chair NWPA

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

West Coast IPAs — Lagunitas vs. Deschutes vs. Sierra Nevada

Lagunitas IPA
ABV 6.2%

Deschutes Inversion IPA
ABV 6.8%

Sierra Nevada
Ruthless Rye IPA
ABV 6.6%

Have we mentioned that we like hops? Seems every time I go to Beerworks I come back with a mixed selection of IPAs. These bottles hail from three well-respected left coast breweries that appear to love hops as much as we do.

Ellen poured the beers so I could try them blind. Knowing that the Sierra Nevada Ruthless Rye was in the mix had my senses on high alert for any of the spicy characteristics that rye can give to a beer. The first beer I tasted was obviously Lagunitas. It was clear, bright orange and featured intense piny and citrusy hop aromas with a hop candy flavor and mild bitterness. They continue to make beer exactly for our palates. As much as we love their beer we continue to suspect that all of their IPAs are the same beer with different labels. We'll have to do an all Lagunitas IPA battle soon to put that theory to the test. 

The second beer was more of a reddish amber and had some tropical hoppy notes in the aroma as well as some black pepper. It had a medium body with a bold bitterness throughout the flavor and into the finish. The final beer was orangy brown in color and had some serious funky, musty, marijuana notes in the aroma. The flavor started sweet and malty and finished with citrus rind and a bit of grains with moderate bitterness. 

I guessed that number two was the Rye due to the black pepper character but, as usual, I was wrong. The harshly bitter number two was the Inversion, a beer that I've always enjoyed on its own but when compared with the other two just didn't stand up. They funky one was the Ruthless Rye which we had really been looking forward to tasting. Perhaps it was a victim of our expectations but it just wasn't ready for the big time yet either. So the Lagunitas emerged victorious — yet another beer in their lineup that is so good it's beginning to get a bit suspicious.     

Winner by Unanimous Decision: Lagunitas IPA