Monday, January 19, 2015

Triple India Pale Ales — Green Flash vs. Knee Deep

Green Flash
Green Bullet Triple IPA
ABV 10.1%

Knee Deep Brewing 
Simtra Triple IPA 
ABV 11.25% 

A friend dropped off the Knee Deep on the way through town (thanks Brandon!) which inspired me to hunt down another "Triple IPA" for a battle. File the Triple IPA style along with all the other hoppy beer styles that really have no official metric to distinguish one from another. I think that this inconsistency could potentially be quite confusing and frustrating to people just getting into craft beer, but perhaps I'm just an OCD stats geek that wants things compartmentalized and orderly? Regardless, let's see what this whole triple IPA thing is all about. Beers were tasted blind as usual.

Beer #1 (Knee Deep Simtra Triple IPA) was a hazy orangish brown with a suspicious lack of bubbles. The nose was a punch in the face with a hop-soaked glove. Massive notes of grass dominated with such an intensity that it came across as almost medicinal. It also had lots of alcohol on the nose which contributed to that medicinal quality. As suspected, it had almost no carbonation but featured a medium body due to a load of malty, sweetness in an attempt to balance out the hop attack. Alcohol continued to be prevalent in the flavor and throughout the finish with a moderate bitterness reminiscent of grapefruit.

Beer #2 (Green Flash Green Bullet) was a crystal clear orangish brown with plenty of bubbles. It also featured a huge blast of hops in the aroma, focusing more on bright fruitiness with a bit of funk and some new oak woodiness. We also got whiffs of meat, nuts and a vegetal quality as the beer warmed up. All in all it was a very unique and complex aroma. The body was creamy and medium bodied with flavors of fruit forward hoppiness and nuts. It finished with a moderate piney and grassy bitterness and a bit of lingering alcohol flavor.

As expected, these were both extremely intense beers — lots of hops, loads of malts and high in alcohol. And to be honest, as much as we love hops, both of these beers were just a bit too much. The Knee Deep Simtra strayed into territory reserved for smelling salts and bitter liqueurs which made it hard to finish the 22 oz. bottle even between the two of us. The Green Bullet was also a monster, but a slightly more tolerable monster with a unique nose and a nice body. Both should be taken in small doses unless your main goal in drinking them is to wince and then fall asleep.

Unanimous decision: Green Flash Green Bullet Triple IPA

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Various Styles — Bridgport Trilogy Series

Bridgeport Brewing
Crystal Dry Hopped
Pale Ale
ABV 5.2%

Bridgeport Brewing
Aussie Salute IPA
ABV 5.8%

Bridgeport Brewing
Brewers' Class
(Dry-Hopped Session Brown Ale)
ABV 5%

The first time we heard about the Bridgeport Trilogy series we knew it was destined for a Bottle Battle. First a little background: The trilogy series was brewed to commemorate the 30th anniversary of Bridgeport Brewing. Each beer represents a decade of their brewing history with #1 highlighting one of the classic aroma hops that defined northwest craft beer, #2 celebrating the IPA style (featuring Australian hops since the brewer of the original Bridgeport IPA was Australian) that exploded during their second decade of operation, and #3 focusing on the future with a collaboration beer created with the help of students from the Oregon State University Fermentation Science Program. Great concept, great execution, but when all is said and done what really matters is which one tastes the best. That's where we come in. This tasting also featured my parents as guest tasters and was done blind as usual.

Beer #1 (Crystal Dry-Hopped Pale Ale) was an orangish gold and had a floral and citrus aroma along with some grain. It had a thin body with a grapefruit character that bordered on cleaning solution. It finished with more citrus and a mild bitterness.

Beer #2 (Aussie Salute IPA) was a golden yellow with a huge aroma of tropical fruit and peach jolly rancher. The flavor continued with the same fruity characteristics to go along with a malty and sweet medium body. The finish was dominated by a lingering citrus peel bitterness.

Beer #3 (Brewers' Class) was reddish brown with dried fruit, roasted malts and alcohol on the nose. It was thin-bodied with a pronounced roasted grain character in the flavor. The finish was also mostly roasty and a bit flat and abrupt with no bitterness at all.

We all agreed that #2 was the best. The aroma was fantastic and it found a nice hop/malt balance with a not-too-aggressively bitter finish — all hallmarks of a good IPA in our opinion. Second place was a tie, with me and my mom choosing the #1 and Ellen and my dad going with #3. Neither were all that great in my opinion, with #1 having too much of that grainy quality I associate with macro-lagers and #3 tasting like a thin amber/brown hybrid that, despite dry-hopping, had almost no hop character at all.

Turns out that Bridgeport had a voting among fans to determine which beer was the best and #1 was the overwhelming favorite. That wasn't too surprising given that #1 would most certainly qualify as a familiar style for the typical northwest palate. Thanks to Bridgeport for being craft beer pioneers. Here's to another 30 years! 
Unanimous decision: Aussie Salute