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Monday, September 21, 2009

Beervana's Best IPA?

Last night presented a delicious conundrum: after an eight-day hiatus, which beer to welcome me back? I considered but quickly rejected an import. I wanted to reacquaint my mouth with beer of a regional nature. From there, it seemed only a short step to choosing an IPA, which has undoubtedly become the king of local craft styles. But which IPA? By my reckoning, a good half-dozen have claim to be the best and, depending on my mood, I might go for any of them. Eventually, I went for Ninkasi Total Domination, which is lively but not punishing.

Thinking further, I wondered if this may be a bit of a Rorschach style. Although I can limit my list of faves to a top seven, looking through the list of breweries I see at least twice that number of credible candidates. So, in the spirit of democracy, I throw it to you. Below are 14 IPAs I selected based on my own preferences. Breweries get only one slot (though many brew more than one IPA), and I left out imperials as well as BridgePort's, which is actually a pale. However, if you think my list is insufficient, there's the requisite "other." I'll leave the poll open until I get at least 200 votes.

All of this, incidentally, is a prelude to a review I'll do on Brew Dog's Atlantic IPA--the beer they sent on a two-month jaunt in the Atlantic for "sea-aging," in the historical manner. The brewery sent me a bottle (retails at $26 for 11 ounces!), and I will crack it tonight. We'll see whether it is indeed superior to the local IPAs--the very kinds of beer that inspired Brew Dog in the first place.

But first, the poll. (Direct link here if it doesn't load properly.)



(For what it's worth, my top six are, alphabetically: Deschutes, Fort George, Full Sail, Mt. Hood, Ninkasi, Pelican, Terminal Gravity.)

24 comments:

Steve said...

As I shamefully haven't tried all of these, I don't know that I'm fully qualified to vote. Ninkasi's my favorite of the ones I've tried.

Sadly, I've yet to find an Oregon IPA that compares to my favorite: Pliny the Elder.

CAL Dreaming said...

Pliny
Maharaja
Racer 5
Oracle
Hop Rod
Fullers

Sorry, no Oregon IPA's on my list either. I guess proximity to hops does equate into having great skill in brewing with them.

Jeff Alworth said...

Steve, Pliny's a double/imperial IPA (and one of my very faves, too). Ah, Californian homers, I admire your parochialism. But you undermine your favorites when you add "I guess proximity to hops does equate into having great skill in brewing with them." Maybe Oregon IPAs don't make your top six; that doesn't mean they're poorly brewed. This is just sour grapes.

And in fact, given our recent dominance in a national blind taste-test, I'd say it suggests you should be trying another round of Beervana's finest.

CAL Dreaming said...

Sour Grapes for what? California has nothing to be sour about in reference to our beer.

Blind tasting? hahahahaha. Where in your podunk backyard and behind the trailer? Give me a break!

Jeff Alworth said...

Ah, CAL, you're a charmer. But no, it wasn't behind the trailer. It was held in Ohio. Oregon had three of the final eight, two of the final four, and the winner, Laurelwood. Cali fared ... more poorly.

CAL Dreaming said...

Ohio! That's a beer mecca. Other than Great Lakes Brewery what's there?

Maybe if Oregon is lucky they can clean up in Iowa too! LMAO

That's CALIFORNIA not Cali! You guys not know how to spell the rest? :-)

Anonymous said...

ninkasi topped my list until i tried an oakshire watershed. these guys make awesome an awesome beer!

Ryan Hirscht said...

Oh, boy. How the trolls love to start a pissing match. Hang out with Mike Winslow much?

Aaron J. Grier said...

HotD blue dot and full sail sunspot (and its descendants) come to mind as my oregon favorites.

racer 5, stone IPA, and pike IPA are my out-of-state favorites.

there's such a world of IPAs out there: the flowery and fruity, the sharp and spicy, the tongue-curling bitter, and all shades in-between. my favorite in the spectrum depends on the season and my mood.

I'd have to try a few more to vote fairly.

Bill said...

Oh, give the Lucky Lab a chance and put Super Dog up as their candidate.

Broken Halo probably deserves a slot.

I'm surprised you didn't go for a fresh hop beer as your first home beer.

Jeff Alworth said...

Okay, for the record, I was making a distinction between regular IPAs and imperial IPAs. Blue Dot, a gorgeous beer, is an imperial. Sunspot's not a bad IPA, not bad at all. But neither is Full Sail's regular IPA. I consider it a wonderful beer. Such is the nature of this category that a B+/A- beer doesn't even rate.

By my lights, Broken Halo is a little light for style. I consider it, like BridgePort's IPA, pale ales rather than full IPAs. Thus did I exclude it. (Even if it technically qualifies, given its bantam weight status, it would get killed in this poll.)

Lance said...

It would be nice if this poll would let you pick your top three instead of just one.

Oakshire Watershed? This is new to me. Is it available in Portland?

I voted for Pelican btw :)

One Ghost Industries said...

That is a tough call! I love Workhorse and Hopworks IPA but Tricerahops from Ninkasi is so good too! oh so many wonderful IPA's and such a small liver!

Brian said...

We did a non-blind tasting of IPAs a couple of years ago. Pelican beat out most of what you have listed, although I don't think we had any Total Domination.

Ah, how I miss the sheer number of good beers available in the NW. Can't wait to be back there in Dec.

Soggy Coaster said...

When I was in Oregon a few weeks ago, I was very impressed by both the Pelican and Terminal Gravity IPAs. I'd put those up against any IPA, anywhere. I live in Colorado, and we have a few good IPAs (Avery's IPA, Ska's Modus Hoperandi), but Pelican and Terminal Gravity have something figured out.

DOSiR said...

Workhorse hands down is the best ever IPA... if you haven't had it, then you have no right voting. :-)

Anonymous said...

Who cares about IPA now that the Christmas beers are hitting the shelves? :-)

flatpickgal said...

I wish I could say I've tried them all, too, but I haven't...sigh. Something to look forward too???? I'd also put a plug in for Bend Brewing's IPA, but its been a few years since I've had it. I'm waaay behind...

dr wort said...

IPA or not to IPA?

http://wortblog.blogspot.com/2009/09/shifting-beer-trends-ipa-out-sour-in.html#links

Angie said...

My vote goes to Oakshire! The first time I had Watershed was right off the vat at the brewery and it was the most delicious thing I've ever tasted.

On a side note, let's stop this bickering about CA vs. OR beer. It's really silly. Both states make great brews end of story.

Lance said...

+1 to angie

Angie said... On a side note, let's stop this bickering about CA vs. OR beer. It's really silly. Both states make great brews end of story.

Anonymous said...

No way! Oregon beers all the way. Hopworks, Ninkasi, TG, Laurelwood. The closest CA comes with IPA is with their Lagunitas, as far as I'm concerned.

DOSiR said...

CA and OR have the best IPA's and IIPA's around. A nice Ballast Point Dorado IIPA beats most here in OR by a long shot... so its a mix and match. Living in OR doesn't count when you have stuff like Alpine down there that I am sure most of us haven't even tried.

Jack R. said...

I hope I am not too late to this thread to ask a question.

Q: Mr. Beervana, do you distinguish between ordinary and double [or Imperial or 2X] IPA by IBU value of ABV percentile? And what value?

==
I use IBU and settled on 65 and up as Double / Imperial / 2X.

60 could be the boundary value.

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