Tuesday, October 22, 2013

IPAs — Fort George/Gigantic/Lompoc vs. Goose Island

Fort George/Gigantic/Lompoc
3-Way IPA 
ABV 6.69%

Goose Island IPA
ABV 5.9%

The two IPAs you see above come from vastly different backgrounds. The 3-Way is a collaboration beer from a trio of well-known Oregon craft breweries (Fort George in Astoria, Gigantic in Portland and Lompoc in Portland). The Goose Island hails from a seminal craft brewery in Chicago that was gobbled up a couple years ago by macro-beer behemoth, Anheuser Busch. So, it's three little guys vs. one really freaking huge guy. Exciting no? Let's see who wins.

Beers were tasted blind as is our custom.

Beer #1 (Goose Island IPA) was a clear orange/brown. The aroma was mostly malty in a floral honey sort of way. The flavor was also malty with a slight fruitiness and the finish had a mild citrusy hop bitterness.

Beer #2 (3-Way IPA) was a hazy pumpkin orange. The aroma was shockingly hoppy with huge notes of pine and cleaning solution (perhaps due to the pine). The flavor continued the hop assault with a huge resiny character followed by a long lasting, intense bitterness.

For two beers calling themselves IPA, these couldn't have been more different. The Goose Island was very one-dimensional and felt to us like it needed a bit more of a hop bite to balance the solid floral and fruity maltiness. It wasn't a bad beer, it just seemed... safe. Whether that is a result of being owned by AB or whether that is just how Goose Island has always interpreted IPA we can't say, but either way it's a beer that isn't doing much to stand out.

The 3-Way, on the other hand, seems to be continuing in the tried and true west coast tradition of hopping the holy crap out of everything. It was the obvious winner in this fight but it's not for the faint of heart. If you're the type of beer drinker that likes hop aroma to be something akin to smelling salts then this is the beer for you. We enjoyed it quite a bit but you probably won't see us swigging a 4-pack anytime soon. It seems just right for a special occasion IPA though.   

Unanimous decision: 3-Way IPA