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

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