Monday, July 16, 2012

Oregon IPAs — Cascade Lakes vs. Terminal Gravity/Double Mountain Collaboration

Cascade Lakes IRA
ABV 6.8%
Terminal Gravity/Double Mountain
Collaboration IPA
ABV 7.2% 
This battle featured a couple of non-standard IPAs from Oregon. Representing the beer mecca of Bend was the Cascade Lakes IRA and hailing from Enterprise (Terminal Gravity) and Hood River (Double Mountain) was the Gravity Mountain Collaboration IPA. 

The Gravity Mountain continues a growing trend of two (or more) breweries combining their knowledge and resources to create a special collaborative concoction. For those not familiar with IRA, it is simply a variation of a normal IPA. It stands for India Red Ale, a hybrid name created from IPA and red ale.

The color of the Cascade Lakes wasn't so much red as hazy orangish brown. In the aroma it had lots of bready malts and a touch of milk chocolate with no significant hop presence. The hops came out in the flavor however, as it started sweet and ultimately gave way to some grassy, herbal and citrusy hop notes. The finish was mild and sweet with a pleasant mild bitterness.

The Gravity Mountain had a cloudy, golden hue and a strong and funky marijuana aroma. The flavor was dominated by the funky hops with just a touch of sweet maltiness in the background. On the finish it was acidic and bitter, a harsh and long-lasting bitter greens sort of bitter.

Neither beer really wowed us. To our palates they were both decent but unimpressive. The victory went to the Cascade Lakes IRA because we just don't care for IPAs that smell like pot. Not sure if it's a specific variety of hop or a style of beer making, but it's not for us.

Winner by Unanimous Decision: Cascade Lakes IRA

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Washington State IPAs — Elysian vs. Pike vs. Diamond Knot

Elysian Prometheus IPA
ABV 6.7%

Pike IPA
ABV 6.3%
Diamond Knot IPA
ABV 6.2% 
In anticipation of the IPA blind tasting event we did for Medford Beer Week, Ellen and I had to do some research to find an IPA to represent each state on the west coast. At the local bottle shop we found a nice selection of Washington IPAs to choose from and we ended up choosing these three — Elysian and Pike from our old hometown of Seattle and Diamond Knot from a city called Mukilteo just north of Seattle.
Colors varied with the Elysian coming across reddish orange, the Pike showing off a brownish orange and the Diamond Knot looking fairly unappealing with a kind of brownish yellow.
The Elysian had the aroma that appealed to us most, featuring gobs of grapefruit and citrus that started us salivating immediately. The Pike had some strong funky, earthy, marijuana-esque hop aromas and the Diamond Knot was more restrained with some tropical fruit notes.
The Elysian continued its dominance in the flavor as the citrus was complemented by a nice sweet caramel maltiness and a fairly mild bitterness in the finish. The Pike was intensely bitter with a bit of burnt hops and cat pee in the finish. The Diamond Knot also had a harsh bitterness in the finish, although not as much as the Pike, while the flavors were fairly simple, offering a bit of grain and some lemon-water.
There wasn't much debate in this battle as the Elysian was the clear winner for both of us. It's just the kind of IPA that appeals to us — big, juicy, citrusy grapefruit aroma with a solid malt profile and a smooth bitterness in the finish. Unfortunately it is not a year-round release for Elysian, rather it is part of their Manic IPA Series and will be available through August. If you're a fan of IPAs this one is certainly worth your attention so hurry up and get some before it's gone!
Side note: The Prometheus ended up in second place in our IPA blind tasting event behind another great IPA, 10 Barrel Brewing's Apocolypse IPA.  
Winner by Unanimous Decision: Elysian Prometheus IPA