Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Oregon Imperial IPAs — Hop Valley vs. Bend Brewing

Hop Valley Alpha Centauri
Binary IPA
ABV 8.5%

Bend Brewing Hop Head
Imperial IPA
ABV 9.2%

These two breweries weren't satisfied with just one battle so we threw them in the ring and let them have at it again. Two weeks ago we featured their regular IPAs and this time we ramped up the intensity and ABV a bit to see which of their Imperial IPAs would reign supreme.

Thankfully, the soapy, cleaning solution characteristics we noticed in their regular IPAs were not apparent in these Imperial IPAs. Quite the opposite actually as the Hop Head took an early advantage with great floral and citrus hop aromas. The Alpha Centauri was very fragrant as well but didn't offer much in the way of hops, instead it offered a big blast of sweet honey malt and molasses. As is often the case with IPAs, the flavor was similar to the aroma with the Hop Head balancing its citrusy hops with a solid malt base while the Hop Valley continued with the intense malt assault to go along with a subtle grassiness. In the finish the Hop Head left us with a lingering citrus rind bitterness while the Alpha finished moderately bitter but also came across as a bit boozy due to the intense maltiness.

It seems as if this battle featured two different interpretations of an Imperial IPA. On the one hand we had the Hop Head which chose to focus on the "IPA" part by coming on strong with bright, citrus hop aromas and flavors throughout. On the other hand we had the Alpha which chose to focus on the "Imperial" part by ramping up the malt to create a heavy, intense beast of a beer with a big, sweet and malty punch but not enough hop presence for our taste.

Kudos to Bend Brewing for winning two in a row. No small feat for a fairly small brewery!

Unanimous Decision: Bend Brewing Hop Head

No comments:

Post a Comment