I just received the results of the blind tasting they did at the OBF. It was the first time they'd tried it, and it got off to a slow start--only a couple hundred people showed. I suspect this is because there's no tradition for it, because anyone who's been to a blind tasting knows what a blast it is. Let's hope the OBF organizers give it a shot next year and hope to see growth. I could imagine this as a signature event a decade from now.
The way it worked was this: people were given 12 (1) beers in two categories, pale ales and IPAs, and asked to 1) judge their favorite, and 2) identify the beers they were drinking.
Those of us who conducted our own pale ale tasting this spring can take heart: none of the tasters in the pale ale flight got even half the beers right. The best was five of twelve, which a number of folks got. (They pulled names out of a hat to determine the "winner" and it was, I am not surprised to learn, Roots' Craig Nicholls. He seems lucky indeed.)
In the IPA category, brewer Jamie Floyd got 10 of 12 right, proving that there is far greater variation in IPAs than pale. I learned something else by this win--Jamie's no longer at Steelhead (Eugene), where he brewed a number of GABF-winning beers, but with the new Ninkasi Brewing, which was unfamiliar to me. Two data points from one winner--nice.
You may be surprised at the results of the judging. Despite some very big names in each category* (including some highly-decorated Oregon classics) it was the brewpubs in a near sweep. Here are the final tallies, with votes in parentheses followingthe brewery's name.
1. Rock Bottom Velvet Pale (22)
2. Alameda Klickitat Pale (16)
3. BJ's Piranha Pale (13)
A major brewery snuck into the IPA winners list, but it was still a win by a brewpub, and another brewpub rounding out the top three.
1. Pelican India Pelican Ale (28)
2. Deschutes Inversion (18)
3. Ninkasi Total Domination (16)
Shocking, no? Sure, Deschutes Mirror Pond has a bushelful of medals, but it gets aced out of the pales. BridgePort IPA may be the best beer in all of England, but it doesn't make the top three Oregon IPAs. Looks like the big boys have some cred to earn back. (In seriousness, it goes to show how many world-class beers Oregon has.) Congrats to the brewpubs for taking five of six slots on the medals podium.
Pale ales in competition: Klickitat Pale Ale (Alameda Brewhouse), Piranha Pale Ale (BJ's Restaurant & Brewery), Blue Heron Pale Ale (BridgePort), Mirror Pond Pale Ale (Deschutes), Full Sail Pale (Full Sail), Mac's Ale (MacTarnahan's), Pinochle Pale Ale (Old Market Pub & Brewery), Ringtail Pale Ale (Raccoon Lodge), Velvet Pale Ale (Rock Bottom), Juniper Pale Ale (Rogue Ales), Pond Turtle Pale Ale (Roots), Hop to Trot (Steelhead).
IPAs: BridgePort IPA (BridgePort), Inversien IPA (Deschutes), Full Sail IPA, Boss IPA (Laurelwood), Total Domination IPA (Ninkasi), India Pelican Ale (Pelican), Pyramid Thunderhead IPA, Paddle Me IPA (Siletz), Standing Stone IPA , Bombay Bomber IPA (Steelhead), Terminal Gravity IPA, Broken Halo IPA (Widmer).