Thursday, September 19, 2013

IPA taste Tourney II - The Semi-Finals & Finals

IPA Taste Tourney Semi-Finals

 #1 Great Divide Titan IPA vs. #6 Bear Republic Racer 5 IPA   

In the first round Titan bullied its way to a win while Racer 5 finessed it's way to the next round. Now it's the Titan's strength versus a Racer's slickness. Titan is a beer that gets better with every draught. Racer is even-keel throughout and stays calm and collected. The strength of Titan that drove it to the win last round would be it's downfall against a sublime drink like Race 5. Another tough round but Racer 5 is the beer that takes it. Just an enjoyable beer to drink.

#2 Hop Hog IPA vs. #5 Ballast Point Big Eye IPA

Last round I was surprised that Big Eye IPA beat Smuttynose IPA. That may have been a fluke win as Hop Hog rolls over Big Eye this round. Maybe the farthest apart two beers have been in all the tournaments. A hoppy blowout. taste, flavor, strength, drinkability. Hop Hog easily to the the finals. 

 IPA Taste Tourney Finals

#2 Hop Hog IPA vs. #6 Bear Republic Racer 5 IPA

The finals. A bittersweet moment. Time to reflect upon all the beer drank before and hope to enjoy those brews yet to come. A repeat of the last IPA taste Tourney Finals with a PA IPA that has "hop" in its name vs. a CA IPA. Two excellent beers. One thing I have noticed throughout this tourney is that Racer 5 doesn't do anything great. It just is an excellent beer that is extremely enjoyable to drink. Hop Hog is like a good wine. You can taste the flavor and hold it for more enjoyment. As good as Hop Hog is, it's just not good enough. Just like last tourney, the California IPA takes it. Racer 5 is the new winner!! I think I'll have one now. 


Monday, September 09, 2013


Round 1is in the books.

Eight great beers competing against one another. I drank them all.

#1 Great Divide Titan IPA vs. #8 Otter Creek Hop Session Ale

Great Divide Brewery Titan IPA is a full bodied brew. From the bottle it tastes much more compact than from the IPA glass. The IPA glass maintains the full body while smoothing over the taste; stretching the flavor, if you will.  Otter Creek Hop Session Ale is smooth but pales in comparison for hoppiness and body. Perhaps the fact that Hop Session Ale is not a true IPA holds it back from being something more. On strength alone Titan IPA moves along to the next round. 

#2 Hop Hog IPA vs. #7 Saranac High Peaks Imperial IPA

This was a well enjoyed round of beer drinking. Both beers flavor and taste was amplified from the bottle to the IPA glass. Not in any real significant way but the IPA glass helps both. Ina subtle way. This was the closest round of this tournament and the previous one. For a quick moment I thought I was snookered and both beers were one and the same. Both had strong flavor and taste. Both had excellent body. Hop Hog stayed heavy on the tongue in a good way. Hop Hog edges it by a slim margin.

#3 Big Daddy IPA vs. #6 Bear Republic Racer 5 IPA 

Another tough one. Really enjoyed both these beers. Once again the IPA glass provides a subtle taste and flavor difference for both of them. Two well rounded good IPA's.  I wish both could move to the next round. This contest came down to what do I enjoy drinking more. The answer to that question is Bear Republic Racer 5 IPA.

#4 Smuttynose Finest Kind IPA vs. #5 Ballast Point Big Eye IPA

I had high hopes for Smuttynose Finest Kind IPA. I have liked all the Smuttynose beers I have tasted in the past. Ballast Point was a newcomer. I just saw them at the beer distributor and decided to give them a try. At first I thought Ballast Point Big Eye IPA was too perfumey, too flowery. That was when I drank it on its own. Those proved to be strong points against Smuttynose. Smuttynose IPA seemed to have gone in for the hops. The flavor and taste seemed to be neglected along the way. Not much balance for Smuttynose. While I love hoppy beers I like to have a well rounded beer.   Ballast Point Big Eye IPA moves on. I'm beginning to think that Big Eye may be the big sleeper of this tourney. 

Updated bracket:

Friday, September 06, 2013

IPA Madness Tourney Returns

Back with 8 new IPA hoppy beers. Same rules apply as in the first tourney: 

The beer tasting crtieria will be easy. Whichever I find tastes best. Whichever I feel like I could keep drinking. Whichever is most enjoyable. Extra points go to the IPA with a big improvement in overall taste from bottle to glass. 

The seeding was done by random number generator.

The new line-up and competition.

#1 Great Divide Titan IPA vs. #8 Otter Creek Hop Session Ale
Colorado brewery vs. Vermont brewery. I enjoy snowboarding in both. I have enjoyed beers from both. Only one can move on. Otter Creek Hop Session is technically listed as "somewhere inbetween a pale ale and an indian pale ale..." but if it's got some variation of hop in its name it's fair game for this tourney. 

#2 Hop Hog IPA vs. #7 Saranac High Peaks Imperial IPA

PA vs. NY. Amish country vs. Adirondacks. Saranac had an entry in the previous tourney - Red IPA. I like Saranac beers so I gave another one a try again. Incidentally, that first round match-up was also against a PA beer, Hop Devil. It's becoming a tradition that Saranac goes up against a Pennsylvania beer with "hop" in its name. 

#3 Big Daddy IPA vs. #6 Bear Republic Racer 5 IPA 

Two well respected California IPA brews. I was disappointed with the random generator that these two had to go up against one another. Them's the breaks, I guess. A California IPA won the first tourney. (belated spoiler alert). This cuts down Cali's chances for # 2 right off the bat. But what can you do? 

 #4 Smuttynose Finest Kind IPA vs. #5 Ballast Point Big Eye IPA

New Englanders vs. Southern Californians. NH vs San Diego. Smuttynose makes lots of good beers. I hadn't yet tried Ballast Point. Just like the days of yore. The tried and true from the east coast against some new fangled concoction from the west coast. 

May the best beer win!

IPA Madness: Final Round!!!!

The final round is here. Eight excellent IPA's. Down to two.

3 - Lagunitas IPA vs.  4 - Victory Hop Devil

In the semi-finals the bitter hoppiness of Victory Hop Devil and the fruity pineapple flavor yet latent hoppiness of Lagunita won out. Which one will out in the final round? Another tough taste test. The flavor and hoppiness of Lagunitas IPA wins the final.

Overall the biggest winner was me drinking all these great beers.


IPA Madness Semi-Final Part 2

It's a shame that any of these two great tasting beers needs to lose. My consolation is that after this taste tournament is over I still have a fridge full of excellent brews. I win no matter what.

2 - Sierra Nevada Torpedo vs. 3 - Lagunitas IPA

During the first round battle of Lagunitas vs. Dogfish Head 90 I mentioned the great presence of both beers. I can probably copy and paste all that for this semi-final round.  I n the first semi-final round the hoppiness of Hop Devil won out over the smoothness of Dogfish Head 60 Minute. This time around, we have powerful hoppiness mixed with a consistent smoothness from Sierra Nevada Torpedo. Lagunitas provides us with a fruity aroma and flavor followed by a latent hoppiness. I think either beer may win on any given day. But on this beautiful May afternoon the beer I enjoyed more, the beer that provided a more refreshing repast, the beer that I want another one of is Lagunitas. 

Finals are set: Victory Hop Devil vs. Lagunitas IPA.
Updated Bracket:

IPA Madness Semifinals Part 1

The semifinals of the IPA Madness Taste Tournament utilizing specific IPA glasses has begun! Sorry for the delay but life interfered with the beer tasting. "What!?" you exclaim, "Beer tasting is life!" I can only ruefully respond that in this case it had to be delayed and offer no further explanation or excuse. Now that beautiful weather has seemingly arrived, view my return to beer tasting as you would greet the spring: hopeful and with a renewed sense of vigor.  

1 - Dogfish Head 60 Minute vs. 4 - Victory Hop Devil

Two great beers. Two extraordinary IPA's. Yet two vastly different tastes. Boy, is it hard to choose a winner this round. This round was (bottle) neck-to-(bottle) neck. (Yes, I know I use specific IPA glasses for the taste test. Allow me to use beer bottle humor at my prerogative. Thank you.) I remember first tasting Hop Devil years ago at the beginning of the hop revolution in IPA's. It tasted hoppier and more bitter than anything out there. It certainly seems the intervening years have really produced beers where hoppiness is the main goal. Hop Devil, while hoppy and bitter, possesses a sweet honey aroma and an overall consistent smoothness that a lot of the subsequent IPA's do not.  Dogfish Head 60 Minute is even smoother and lighter. The taste is not as powerful as Hop Devil but your tastebuds will know what an excellent concoction it is. Dogfish Head 60 Minute is a classy beer, perhaps in a class by itself. It's the type of beer you can bring to a snooty dinner party where everyone else brags about some vintage wines all night long. 

The overriding judgement of this taste tournament is my enjoyment of drinking the beer. After this round the beer I would have wanted more of was Victory Hop Devil. As I tell my wife: "I like my beers like I like my women- bitter!" Hop Devil to the final round.   

 Updated Bracket:

IPA Madness Round 4

Last round before moving to the semi-finals. Lots of good beer matched up but this was the toughest one yet. Difficult decision.

3 - Lagunitas IPA vs. 6 - Dogfish Head 90 Minute

Th presence of both these beers is sky high. Great beers. The IPA glasses brings out the best in the Lagunitas. The glasses brings out all the peppiness of this beer. It doesn't enhance as much as completes it. Dogfish 90 Minute brings strong flavor that smooths out the more you drink. The IPA glass also makes it a pure joy to drink. So much back and forth. Such a hard decision. I don't know if the finals will be this tough. (I hope so, though.) The peppiness of Lagunitas wins out. Another time, different circumstances and maybe I would have chosen Dogfish 90. Who knows. It's a shame that this had to be a first round match-up. Onto the semi-finals.

Updated brackets:

IPA Madness Round 3

An old favorite vs. a newcomer. An East Coast battle. Philly vs. Upstate NY.

4 - Victory Hop Devil vs. 5 - Saranac Red IPA

Victory Hop Devil was one of the first of the newfangled hoppy beers I tried. That first taste led me to wanting specific IPA glasses and this taste tournament so many years later. I have always liked Saranac beers. I thought the Red IPA was different s I gave it a whirl. A good beer. But nt good enough to overcome the old favorite. Hop Devil moves to the semi-finals with a superior taste, smooth and strong yet not too much.

Updated Brackets:

Previous IPA Madness Taste Tournament 2013 entries:

IPA Madness: Round 2

Another tough round. Both beers taste is enhanced by the indispensable IPA glass. But there can be only one.

2 - Sierra Nevada Torpedo vs. 7- Cricket Hill Hopnotic

When a beer has some derivative if the word hop in its name you can pretty much know what to expect. The Cricket Hill Hopnotic deliver son the hoppiness but also has a pleasing fragrance and flavor. The IPA glass greatly enhances the flavor. However, Sierra Nevada Torpedo is a balnced and smooth, yet strong, ale, which the glass also brings out the best of its taste. This was another tough one. In Round 1 I ended up going with flavor over strength but in Round 2 its the opposite. The balanced strength of the Torpedo beats out the hoppy flavor of the Hopnotic. 

I look forward to drinking more of both - two excellent brews - but Sierra Nevada Torpedo heads to the next round.

Updated bracket: 

 Previous IPA Madness Taste Tournament 2013 entries:

IPA MADNESS: Round 1 Results

The first round of the IPA MADNESS Taste Tourney is complete.

To begin: Here is the refrigerator ready for all rounds and then some.

1 - Dogfish Head 60 Minute vs. 8- Stone IPA

This was a tough first round. Two great, yet different, beers.It was a difficult decision...yet a winner must be chosen. The Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA was smooth and flavorful. The Stone IPA was strong and powerful. I think I would choose one or the other on any given day depending on my mood. This was a neck-to-neck battle. Ultimately, the flavor of Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA won out today.

Stone IPA may be out of the tourney but I will enjoy all drinking the rest left in the fridge, don't you worry 'bout that.

Updated Bracket (spell checked this time):


Here's the official bracket for the IPA MADNESS TASTE TOURNAMENT 2013.

First up is Dogfish Head 60 Minute vs. Stone IPA. I didn't realize I have already finished all the 60 Minute and have to replenish. I'll start soon.

(Originally published at


After a friend referred me to this short NYT article regarding an IPA specific beer glass. I made subtle hints about wanting these and next thing you know I have some for my birthday!

The glasses are produced by Spiegelau and were made in conjunction with Dogfish Head and Sierra Nevada Breweries. Jean surprised me with the glasses stamped with the Dogfish Head insignia.

I have always liked strong IPA's. I gotta say these glasses make drinking nice, hoppy IPA's even better. Downright enjoyable. 

As a result of getting these glasses I now have a refrigerator full of IPA beers. I like them all!

Over the coming days I will set up a March Madness like tournament of beer tasting with these glasses. 

The beer tasting crtieria will be easy. Whichever I find tastes best. Whichever I feel like I could keep drinking. Whichever is most enjoyable. Extra points go to the IPA with a big improvement in overall taste from bottle to glass.

The top seeds in this tournament are:

1 - Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA

2- Sierra Nevada Torpedo

These are top two seeds because these companies are partners in making this glass and in my initial drinking from the glass these two beers are excellent and the front-runners as far as I am concerned.

The remaining seeds were selected randomly. These are beers I have enjoyed in the past, one local, and one I never had before but seemed interesting.

3- Lagunitas IPA

4- Victory Hop Devil
5- Saranac Red IPA
6- Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA
7- Cricket Hill Hopnotic
8- Stone IPA


1 - Dogfish Head 60 Minute vs. 8- Stone IPA
This is going to be a tough elimination as I really enjoy both of these beers tremendously.

2 - Sierra Nevada Torpedo vs. 7- Cricket Hill Hopnotic
One of the favorites up against the local (Fairfield, NJ) underdog

3 - Lagunitas IPA vs. 6 - Dogfish Head 90 Minute 
Another tough first round elimination.

4 - Victory Hop Devil vs. 5 - Saranac Red IPA
Hop Devil is one of the beers that first turned me onto the real hoppy taste. I like Saranac beers and thought the Red IPA was an interesting twist. We'll see how it fares.

Results posted as they occur. Check back often!

(Originally posted at