Monday, November 19, 2012

Oregon IPAs — Bend Brewing vs. Hop Valley

Bend Brewing
Elk Lake India Pale Ale
ABV 6.5%

Hop Valley
Alphadelic I.P.A.
ABV 6.5%

We've tried a lot of IPAs. A quick search on "IPA" in this blog will confirm that fact. Many have been excellent, a few have been awful but they've all been fun to try and they've all contributed to our knowledge of the almighty hop. Our hop education continued with these two Oregon IPAs. The Elk Lake is from Bend Brewing in the heart of downtown Bend while the Alphadelic is from Springfield right outside of Eugene. 

Both had a very similar color but the Elk Lake was murky while the Alphadelic was crystal clear. They both offered strong hop aromas with the Elk Lake coming across as floral, citrusy and a bit chemical while the Alphadelic was more spicy, piny and soapy. Both were bitter in the finish but to different degrees. The Alphadelic had a harsh bitter greens/citrus rind finish while the Elk Lake was far more moderate with citrus notes.

In our extensive tasting of IPAs we've noticed that sometimes hop character can cross over from organic qualities like citrus, flowers and pine to artificial qualities like soap and cleaning solution. It's a fine line that has to do with a bunch of things from hop variety to brewing technique but regardless of how it happens we don't care for it. Sadly, to our palates, both of these beers had some of those chemical qualities so our decision was mostly based on which one had less of those qualities. So the Elk Lake took the victory since the cleaning solution aroma we detected was a bit more subdued than the soapiness of the Alphadelic. We also thought the Elk Lake had a much better finish.

Here's to hoping that your next IPA is clean tasting, but not too clean tasting. Have a great Thanksgiving everyone and don't forget to pair some beer with all that great food!

Unanimous Decision: Elk Lake India Pale Ale

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