Monday, February 25, 2013

Double IPAs — 10 Barrel vs. Napa Smith


10 Barrel Dub
Double IPA
ABV 9.5%

Napa Smith Hopageddon
Imperial IPA
ABV 9.2%

First off we'd like to go ahead and admit that 10 Barrel is probably our favorite brewery right now. We loved everything we tried when we visited the brewery in Bend, we always buy their "Small Tank Project" beers and we proudly offer their excellent Apocalypse IPA at the bakery. On the other hand, we know nearly nothing about Napa Smith except that it is readily available when we are visiting family in the Napa, California area. That being said it was even more important that one of us taste the beers blind. I volunteered, Ellen poured.

Beer #1 was a hazy reddish orange with a huge citrus and pine aroma bordering on soapy. The flavor was harsh, grassy and medicinal and the finish featured intense citrus rind bitterness to go along with a strange smokiness and some astringency. I secretly hoped that this was not the 10 Barrel.

Beer #2 was more brownish orange and had a much more subdued hop aroma that was dominated by a floral honey character. The flavor fell more on the malty side of things with a nice sweetness tempered by some pleasant citrus hop notes. It finished with the same kind of citrus rind bitterness as #1 but without any of the weird smokiness or astringency.

We both agreed that Beer #2 was the clear winner which just so happened to be the 10 Barrel Dub. The Hopageddon was certainly extreme, but extreme only goes so far before everything gets out of whack. In an ironic twist we felt that the 10 Barrel was very well balanced for a Double IPA despite reading this on the side of the bottle: "This beer is not balanced, was not intended to be, and will never be balanced. Seriously, if you don't like hops this beer might possibly ruin your day."

On a side note, the Hopaggedon dominated in the label design category. Who doesn't love a flaming hop meteor? Well played Napa Smith.      
Unanimous Decision: 10 Barrel Dub 

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Double IPAs — Silver Moon vs. Avery Brewing

Silver Moon Hoptagon
Imperial IPA
ABV 8.5%

Avery Brewing DuganA
Double IPA
ABV 8.5%

Recently we have noticed a movement in the craft beer world to push back from the crazy excess and intensity of imperial-style beers in favor of the more refined and easy-drinking profiles of low-alcohol "session" beers. We are not part of that movement. Although we certainly enjoy a well-made session beer, especially in the summer, we are drawn to the extremes — beers that push the limits with unique ingredients, new techniques and experimental style combinations. Double IPAs are perhaps the most popular of these extreme beers and we are shamelessly in love with the style. So despite the current trends, expect to see a heavy dose of heavy beer on Bottle Battle. That's how we roll.

Having recently visited Bend, we were happy to see Hoptagon at our local bottle shop. We matched it up against some stiff competition in the DuganA as Avery has established itself as a force when it comes to hoppy beers. Ellen poured so that I could do a blind tasting.

Beer #1 was ripe with floral hops that bordered on soapy. It was sweet, thick, full-bodied and citrusy in a Lemon Pledge sort of way. The finish was moderately bitter but mostly dominated by sweet malts.

Beer #2 had an funky, earthy, piny aroma. It was also full-bodied but the sweet honey flavor of malt overwhelmed the hops in the flavor. It finished with a somewhat harsh and lingering bitterness.

Neither were stellar. Ellen immediately was drawn to Beer #2 which turned out to be the DuganA. At first I was leaning toward the Hoptagon, but as it warmed up all the chemical, soapy notes became amplified and I switched to the DuganA.
Unanimous Decision: Avery DuganA