Sunday, September 25, 2011

FatCat's 2011 IPA Shootout #2 Results!

We kissed summer goodbye with a bang, 8 IPAs worth of bang!  The gloves are off and we have a winner!

As always this was a blind tasting, meaning we had no idea which beers we were drinking.  We tasted each of our 8 samples and rated them 1-5, 1 being the worst and 5 being the best.  We are by no means beer judges and we rated the beers based on our personal preferences.  Do I like this beer more than that beer?  If yes then it gets a higher score.  As with our other shootouts we were surprised by the outcome and that my friends is the beauty of blind tasting.  We were down a man this tasting so there were only 3 of us: Me, Big Ed, and the newcomer Super Spiker Andrew.

And the winner is:

1.   New Belgium Ranger IPA                13.5pts
2.   Green Flash West Coast IPA            11.0pts
3t.  Stone Arrogant Bastard                    10.5pts
3t.  FatCat’s 11 Iron Horizon IPA          10.5pts
5.   Ska Modus Hoperandi                      10.0pts
6.   Stone IPA                                           8.5pts
7.   Founder’s Centennial IPA                  7.5pts
8.   Lagunitas IPA                                     6.5pts
    FatCat’s Favorites:
    Ranger IPA                5.0pts
    11 Iron Horizon IPA 4.5pts
    West Coast IPA        4.0pts

    Big Ed’s Favorites:
    Ranger IPA              4.5pts
    Modus Hoperandi     4.0pts
    West Coast IPA        4.0pts

    Super Spiker Andrew’s Favorites:
    Ranger IPA                 4.5pts
    Arrogant Bastard        4.0pts
    Modus Hoperandi       3.0pts
    11 Iron Horizon IPA   3.0pts


    My personal favorites before the shootout would have been the Centennial IPA and Modus Hoperandi.  The Ranger IPA was definitely the sleeper of the group (at least for me).  I had passed on this beer so many times at the liquor store because it didn’t have that sexiness.  You know how rare beers or highly touted brews carry that extra “sex” appeal and you gotta have them?  The Ranger is always at the store, always in the build your own sixer, and is like the back up date to the prom.  I’ll try it out later if my other top choices aren’t available.  Our fates crossed the other day and I took the backup date to the prom, in doing so I discovered a stellar IPA that had to go into the shootout.  Now we have a beer Cinderella story.  The morale of the story is don’t take your back up beer dates for granted. 
    The Green Flash West Coast IPA is a freakin’ beast.  It was clearly the most bitter of all the other offerings.  Unfortunately this was the first beer in the sampling and it totally destroyed our palate for the other beers.  However, we kept our composure and cleansed our palates with gallons of water so we could proceed.  The huge difference in bitterness between this brew and every other brew in the tasting raised my spidey sense that this may not be an “IPA” per se.  Could there be a rat?

    I know what you’re thinking; Founder’s Centennial took next to last.  Didn’t Founder’s win your first shootout?  Yes, Yes it did.  As I mentioned, Green Flash was the first beer in the tasting and generally made every other beer after that taste the equivalent of a pale ale.  Guess which beer was number two?  If you guessed the Centennial IPA then you are correct.  With that being said the Centennial took the brunt of the palate destruction from the Green Flash.  Going with my hunch I did some research about the West Coast’s IBUs and it turns out it has 95 IBUs.  According to the BJCP guidelines the cutoff for an American IPA is 65 IBUs and therefore makes the West Coast not an IPA.  It’s an Imperial IPA and is a rat in this shootout.  Thanks Green Flash for screwing up my shootout with a blatant mislabeling of your product, you guys are awesome.

    Based on my previous tasting of the Arrogant Bastard I found it comparable to an IPA in bitterness, hop character, and aroma.  It was quite a bit darker in color than the other brews but fared very well in our shootout.

    I was stoked the homebrew tied for 3rd in the blind tasting.  It was the most unique tasting brew in the entire shootout (my opinion).  All the other beers had the same type of “cookie cutter” bitterness character of an American IPA.  The 11 Iron in contrast had a minty/grassy bitterness making for a super drinkable and refreshing brew.  I do have to admit my clarity issue from dry hopping was very apparent.  It stuck out like a sore thumb so everyone knew which one was the homebrew.

    As always I will review the top 3 brews in detail in future posts.


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