Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Blind IPA Tasting at Rick's

Chris updates the scoreboard at Rick's Wine & Gourmet

Chris, pictured above, sent out the following message to subscribers of Rick's newsletter:

"The first ever Rick's blind IPA tasting went off without a hitch! I hope everyone enjoyed it as much as I did. I'll post the results below. I was impressed. Several of you lovely people were able to pick out all 5 beers! And I...*ahem*...well, didn't. Tröegs Perpetual really threw me off, for whatever reason. My blind top 3 were: DC Brau, Heavy Seas, and then Port City. The tweaked Monumental recipe really is delicious. They are more than worthy of their bronze medal at the Great American Beer Fest!"

The final results:

1. Devils Backbone 8 Point - 111 Points (15 First / 27 Second / 12 Third)
2 (tie). Heavy Seas Loose Cannon - 95 Points (20 First / 9 Second / 17 Third)
2 (tie).  Port City Monumental - 95 Points (10 First / 29 Second / 7 Third)
4. DC Brau Corruption - 74 Points (15 First / 7 Second / 15 Third)
5. Tröegs Perpetual - 65 Points (12 First / 6 Second / 17 Third)

Chris continues:

"What can you take from this? Well, for one thing, this is a divided IPA world. Most people that liked malt balance would mostly pick DB / PC / HS (the lower 3, IBU-wise). And those of us that love palate-wreckers went with the higher IBU beers (Troegs and DC Brau). I was initially shocked, but after thinking about it, this outcome makes perfect sense. "

My own personal ranking belies my love of the hop!  Here are my rankings, which are essentially most to least hoppy. I also show what I thought I was voting for (in parentheses). What actually tasted hoppiest to me did not always track with my recollection of hoppiness by brand.

1. Tröegs Perpetual (Heavy Seas Loose Cannon)
2. DC Brau Corruption
3. Heavy Seas Loose Cannon (Tröegs Perpetual)
4. Port City Monumental (Devils Backbone 8 Point)
5. Devils Backbone 8 Point (Port City Monumental)

I was surprised that my preferences were the inverse of the majority. I had assumed that people who love IPAs were drawn to the style by the bitterness. Like a more balanced brew? There's a Pale Ale for that. Prefer malt-forward brews? May I suggest a stout tasting instead? I guess the difference in preferences among beer lovers is important to recognize and celebrate. 

I was also surprised by the fact that I was unable to correctly identify the beers without the labels. I have enjoyed all five of these brews. I believe I could describe them from memory fairly accurately. However, if that were really true, I should have been able to pick them out. I was unaware that Monumental IPA has been reformulated. That unexpected hoppiness torqued the rest of my guesses.

Even though my preferences are 180 degrees out from the group as a whole and I only correctly identified 1 of the 5 beers, I had a great time.    

Chris concludes:

"Everyone universally liked doing this! I think we will have to make this a somewhat recurring theme! My thoughts for next time: Blind Quad or Blind Imperial Stout. Yeah, that'll work juuuuuust fine."

My vote? I'll be there, Chris!