If you’re a regular reader here, then you know that IPA is one of my favorite styles of craft beer. Single IPAs, double IPAs, Triple IPAs; I love them all and, with today being IPA Day, it makes me wish I’d planned ahead a bit better this year by stocking up on a few of my favorites before the ‘big day’ arrived. I usually do, but it’s been a busy Summer for me and I neglected to do so this year. That simply means my 2014 IPA day will be a bit more spontaneous, as I select from whatever IPAs I’ll find on tap once I’m off work this afternoon.
Thankfully, I made sure that I do have at least one bottle at home of Firestone Walker’s Double Jack, which I have verified through repeated blind taste testing is my favorite IPA (Double IPA that is). Taking advantage of the blind tasting options the past few years at both Beveridge Place Pub in West Seattle during their annul IPApril and at Cooper’s Alehouse on Lake City Way during their annual IPA Fest, helped me narrow down what are probably my top 5 IPAs. No surprise to me, every one of them is a double IPA. Granted, this list is a bit limiting, even for me. I do also have several other favorite IPAs that I can either no longer get in this state (Blind Pig IPA from Russian River Brewing, for example), that I don’t find on tap or in stores as often as I’d like or that are considered seasonal (such as Fresh Hop IPAs, for example).
My top 5, regularly available IPAs in descending order are:
5. Sierra Nevada: Hoptimum
4. Green Flash: Palate Wrecker
3. Boneyard: Hop Venom
1. Firestone Walker: Double Jack
Now, I must qualify this by telling you that I compiled my top 5 list over the past 2 years and, since that time, I have discovered many other wonderful IPAs that I haven’t yet had the opportunity to include in any blind tastings. So I’ll have to make sure I attend the next IPA Fest at Cooper’s (coming in April 2015), as well as setting up a few blind tasting of my own with some of the newer IPAs I’ve found that I like.
A few of the IPAs I’ve recently discovered that I like and will likely pit against each other in some blind tastings include:
-Green Flash: Road Warrior
–Bale Breaker: Top Cutter
-Black Raven: Nothing But Flowers
Do you have a favorite IPA, or a list of favorites? How sure are you of that list? Have you taken some of your favorites and pitted them against each other in a blind taste test? If you’ve never done so, I highly recommend it. Blind tastings are the best way I know of to remove all brand/region influence, and just judge the beers purely on aroma, flavor and appearance. It’s also fun while blind tasting to see if you can actually identify any of the beers by aroma/flavor/appearance alone. It can be challenging, even with a beer you think you know pretty well. I’ve been improving my skills at this a bit, but it does take practice.
However you decide to celebrate IPA Day 2014, the most important thing is to have fun. Just let your taste buds lead you. Maybe try a few IPAs you’ve never had before, or enjoy your favorites, or perhaps even setup a blind tasting with a group of friends and see if you discover a new favorite.
Drink responsibly and stay safe out there.