|Photos by Ashton Smith, Gail Graves and Mark Hall|
Owen Ogletree set up 16 noteworthy American IPAs that were poured at last April's Classic City Brew Fest in Athens in an IPA blind tasting bracket. The panel of tasters and beer judges moved a beer forward from each group or pair that seemed to have the most clean, impressive IPA character and hop profile.
The tasting panel was comprised of Owen Ogletree, The Beer Wench, Sachin Patel of Five Points Bottle Shops, Ian Meents, Ashton Smith, Mark Hall, Dean Graves, Gail Graves and Jeff Rapp.
From the BJCP American IPA style description...
American IPA: A decidedly hoppy and bitter, moderately strong American pale ale, showcasing modern American or New World hop varieties. The balance is hop-forward, with a clean fermentation profile, dryish finish, and clean, supporting malt allowing a creative range of hop character to shine through.
OG: 1.056 – 1.070
IBUs: 40 – 70
FG: 1.008 – 1.014
SRM: 6 – 14
ABV: 5.5 – 7.5%
Here's how the blind brackets went down...
Comments from the tasting panel...
01. FAIRHOPE TAKE THE CAUSEWAY IPA
- Golden amber color; mild grapefruit; slightly earthy; light hop character; dry finish; orange aroma; fruity; malty; pleasant.
02. ALPINE DUET - First Place Best-of-Show
- Resiny; crisp; dry finish; mineraly; golden amber; nice citrus and grapefruit; medium body; fresh hops and orange zest; citrusy; complex; delicious; slight herbal note; complex hop profile; zesty; good malt backbone; resin nose.
03. CURRAHEE GARAND IPA
- Attractive golden/amber color; herbal, grassy hops; mild bitterness; slightly earthy note; light hay note; fruity esters.
04. BOOJUM HOP FIEND
- Golden yellow in color; big initial hop aroma; long finish with mild bitterness and sweet malt; light musk; sweet toffee note in malt profile; big fruity esters.
05. CIGAR CITY JAI ALAI IPA
- Sweet malt nose backed by moderate hops; citrusy; big malt component that lingers; not dry; finishes a bit sweet with light bitterness; toffee hints.
06. QUEST ELLIDA IPA - Honorable Mention
- Amber in color; slight alcohol presence; citrus; well balanced with malt and hops; quick, dry finish; citrusy hops; malt comes through more as the beer warms; orange; malty; biscuit; toffee hint; orange marmalade tone; fruity; good bitter finish; floral aroma.
07. THREE TAVERNS A NIGHT ON PONCE
- Citrus; pine; slightly sweet finish; attractive golden color; good bitterness; hops are bold and upfront.
08. NEW BELGIUM VOODOO RANGER
- Citrus and pine resin aromas; a hint of a vegetal note; honey; complex hop character; seems well balanced between malt and hops.
09. WYNDRIDGE LAUGHING CROW IPA
- Over-ripe fruit; lemons; dry finish; citrusy; lemon peel; a hint of acidity in the finish; only mildly bitter.
10. WILD HEAVEN WISE BLOOD IPA
- Kiwi, grapefruit, papaya and other tropical fruit notes; musky hops; a touch earthy; catty hops; nice bitter finish.
11. GOOD PEOPLE IPA - Second Place
- Nice hop aroma; pleasant malt and hop balance; good bitterness; deep golden color; light nose; body and mouthfeel borders between an American Pale Ale and an IPA; good balance; lightly hopped; slightly light body for style; citrus; quick finish; perfume-like hops; clean citrus; toasted malt hints; good, lingering bitterness.
12. GREEN MAN WAYFARER IPA
- Slight haze; resin in aroma; dry, crisp flavors; piney, citrusy hop notes; clean hops; moderate malt;
13. THE UNKNOWN OVER THE EDGE AMERICAN IPA
- Light aroma; sharp bite in the finish; fruity esters; earthy aroma; veggie hints; a bit astringent; more malty than hoppy; could be more crisp and clean.
14. RED HARE GANGWAY IPA - Honorable Mention
- Sweet, malty aroma; slightly sweet finish; tea-like hints; somewhat light body for style; hints of pepper; mild flavor notes; mild hops; light bitterness in the finish; attractive color for style; finishes a bit sweet; some piney hop notes.
15. SOUTHERN BARREL TAKEAWAY IPA
- Fragrant, perfumy nose; fruity esters are apparent; American hop character is subdued; more malty than hoppy; could be a touch more crisp and hoppy for style.
16. FOOTHILLS JADE IPA
- Complex, earthy hops; grainy aromas; nice bittering hops; fruity; tropical; intriguing hops.