Monday, March 26, 2012

Widmer Brothers Rotator IPA Series

ABV 6.2%

Falconer's IPA 
ABV 7.0%
O'Ryely IPA 
ABV 6.4%

Spiced IPA 
(Ale Brewed with Tea and Spices and with Tea and Spices Added)
ABV 7.0%

Even since I read about Widmer's Rotator IPA Series I knew that it was meant for a Bottle Battle. As each IPA was released I made sure to put away a bottle for the big day. When the Spiced IPA showed up down here a week or so ago it was finally time to stage the fight.

First off let me brag. Ellen poured them for me blind and I identified them all correctly. Admittedly they all are fairly unique but it did make me feel that perhaps my palate and taste memory are improving. That's a cool little side benefit of doing these battles. We may not be classically trained but we sure are getting good with recognizing certain flavors and qualities in beer.

Colors ranged quite a bit: X-114 was clear golden yellow, Spiced was hazy yellowish orange, Falconer's was clear orangy brown and O'Ryely was hazy dark orange. Aromas differed greatly as well: X-114 was the most aromatic with big floral and grapefruit notes that bordered on cat pee, Spiced smelled herbal and perfumy with Cardamom dominating, Falconer's had the least hop character in the nose, instead smelling of sweet roasty malts and the O'Ryely had an earthy, malty aroma. Flavors didn't stray too much from aromas but as far as bitterness on the finish we agreed that the Falconer's was the most bitter followed by the X-114 and the Spiced. The least bitter was the O'Ryely which had just a mild bitterness to go along with a nice rich, malty finish.

We both agreed that the winner would have to be either the X-114 with its amazing aromatics from those Citra hops (X-114 is what the Citra hop was called before it had a fancy name) or the O'Ryely with its earthiness (perhaps from the Rye?) combined with a nice mildly bitter finish. Ellen ended up going with the X-114 while I went with the O'Ryely since the X-114 was just too citrusy for me (bordering on soapy tasting). Coming in second to last was the Falconer's. We've tried multiple beers using the Falconer's Flight blend of hops and we just don't care for them. Bringing up the rear was the ambitious Spiced, certainly a fun idea but it smelled and tasted a bit too much like a bar of soap or some detergent. Thanks, but when we're drinking IPA we like the hops to be the focus.

Split Decision: Ellen chose X-114, I chose O'Ryely

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