Sunday, May 8, 2011

FatCat's 2011 IPA shootout results epilogue

I felt it necessary to clarify the purpose and some details regarding the IPA shootout.  First and foremost the shootout was organized and conducted in the name of fun and fun only.  The IPA shootout results should be interpreted as such.  I nor anybody involved claim to be experts of any kind regarding beer judging.  We leave that to the BJCP certified beer judges. 
If anyone wishes to now what beer judges think, check out the Great American Beer Festival winners or the World Beer Cup winners.  These official beer competitions are great sources of information, but I have a complaint.  A great majority of the beers ranked are not available to us and some I've never even heard of.  Therefore if some beer from California is a gift straight from the beer gods, it means nothing to me in Kansas City. 

Another great source of beer information and reviews is Beer Advocate or Rate Beer.  I encourage anyone who is interested in beer rankings or trying craft brews to check out those sites for information.  I frequent these sites and picked many of my entries for the shootout from the top 50 on Beer Advocate.  These sites provide rankings based on reviewers but I always wondered what would happen if these brews were reviewed back to back.  Would the rankings hold up?  So based on my curiosity I organized the IPA shootout.

One of my objectives is to provide useful information to the craft beer un-initiated or rookies through this site.  As I stated before, if we can save one person from the grips of lifeless lager and convert them to the magic of craft brew I have succeeded.  With that note I have sent many rookies to the Beer Advocate website and I get the same reaction.  What is floral?  How do you taste pine? What does a wet blanket on a summers night next to a fire taste like?  Then they look at me like I've tried to introduce a Calculus equation to them and that I'm the biggest nerd within a 20 yard radius.  So with this in mind I wanted to introduce a simple way to rate the beers. We thought some beers tasted better than others so that is how we rated them. Overly simple in some people's mind, probably.  But someone who knows nothing about IPA's can now have a general idea of what's pretty good and where to find it.

I did not want to use plastic cups.  I drink all of my beer out of glass in my everyday life.  I checked the BJCP Judge Procedure Manual and it states that hard plastic cups are a legitimate vessel to sample beer in.  This goes along with pictures I've seen in magazines showing beer samples in plastic cups submitted for judging.  I still did not want to use plastic cups.  My dilemma was I wanted to taste 11 beers back to back.  This would mean we would have 44 glasses piled on the table.  I couldn't figure out a reliable way to label the glasses without ruining the glass.  I contemplated just setting the glasses on labeled cards but wanted no possibility of mixing them up. We used (2) 12oz bottles per entry and (1) 22oz bottle for a total of 23 bottles of beer for this tasting.  This (for me anyway) was a significant investment monetarily, not to mention the time/gas we put into this.  So getting the drinks mixed up and completely ruining the tasting was not an option.  Plastic cups it is then.

I received several comments regarding my comment that we downgraded two IPA's due to there malty character.  In my personal opinion the maltiness in those two beers interfered with the hop aroma and flavor. Hop aroma and flavor are trademarks of the IPA style for me (again not BJCP certified).  I was attempting to give insight to people who might not have any experience with IPA's. If they wanted to try a "mellower" IPA with regards to hop intensity, the two malty IPA's may be a good starting point.

I would like to thank everyone who has read the IPA shootout and for your comments.  The shootout was so much fun and I encourage you to try one of your own.  I think it would be just as much fun with 3 or 4 beers, so don't think you need a bunch of beers to blind test.  FatCatKC has several other shootouts planned for various styles and will be announced as we go. 

Hope you enjoyed the IPA shootout and as always...



  1. I've found that my opinion of IPAs is greatly influenced by their freshness, moreso than any other style of beer. The IPA that's two weeks old and has been refrigerated since inception is going to have that wonderful hop flavor/aroma, and the 7-month old bottle that's been sitting on warm shelves simply won't.

    And that's the hardest "control" aspect of a blind tasting. When we've done ours, its been relatively obvious at times that we had some old beer...but what can you do?

    My guess is that the IPAs that tasted "malty" simply lost that fresh hoppiness.

  2. Never thought of that aspect JJSKCK good point. The beautiful thing about craft brew is I've never met one I didn't like. I like some better than others, but I've never not been able to drink one. At the end of the tasting I was a happy camper and that is what its about. Thanks for reading and the comment.