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 

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