Friday, April 07, 2006


I’ve been talking a big game with regard to India Pale Ales of late, but have I truly been walking the talk? This week, I was. First up on the docket was one I’ve probably had at least a dozen times in my drinking career, but one that I’ve never “critically evaluated” before. ANDERSON VALLEY BREWING’s “Hot Oppin IPA”, which they advertise as being “as hoppy as it comes” is, to my extreme disappointment, anything but. And I love everything else this brewery touches (Boont Amber and Barney Flats Oatmeal Stout are nectar of the gods), but this one is decidedly mediocre. I found it to be crisp and easy-tasting, yet it seemed to me that it needed to be whomping my palate and making my taste buds explode, and all I got was a nice beer buzz out of the deal. The color is golden amber, trending toward golden (no!). Might even be some honey in there somewhere, but man, I wish there had been more of something. Let’s give it a 5/10 and call it like we see it, all right? Next up this week was another perennial on taps here in the San Francisco Bay Area, LAGUNITAS BREWING CO.’s IPA. I had roughly the same reaction to this one, though I know for a fact I’ve been refreshed by this beverage on many, many occasions while out seeing bands or wherever the hell it is I go. Very mild and less than overwhelming, this IPA could really stand to be infused with another batch of molten hops and given something to increase the bitterness. Then again – these guys probably know what they're doing. This is on hundreds on taps in town, and it’s not made for the beer snobs, it’s for the common man, albeit the common man who won’t drink from a corporate brewer. Purely as a liquid system coolant, I definitely can’t argue with it, and therefore I’m bumping it up above Anderson Valley’s entry to a nearly respectable 5.5/10.

Our last IPA this week – though there’s always this evening – was from SPEAKEASY ALES & LAGERS. Their “Big Daddy IPA” was my favorite of the three, yet not by much. I’m seriously not that difficult to please – witness my frothing reviews for IPAs by MOYLAN’S and BEAR REPUBLIC the past couple of weeks. This one goes up to 6/10. While lighter in color than the other two and just as mild, it has this incredible smell of pine and citrus, and it left an aftertaste that actually had a tiny bit of bite. Still, I got it at a club, rather than a beer drinker’s bar, and it’s starting to make sense that they’re not gonna throw a firebreather like Moylan’s on tap in a place where mere mortals might drink it. But I’m going to mentally bookmark this one for future research. Since HEDONIST BEER JIVE is now up to an average of 40 readers a day (thanks!) – any other IPAs that have blown you away, and any that I (and others) should avoid?


Socialretard said...

Those in the know seem to say that the Dogfish Head 90-minute IPA is the best out there. I tried it a few weeks ago and it's one of those beers that you don't really appreciate until halfway through when your tastebuds can get a handle on what's going on. At first, it seems like a weird mix of the bitter hoppy kick of an IPA and the sweetness of a barley wine. I didn't much like it, but then halfway through it started to make sense. Maybe it was just the alcohol content getting to me. It packs quite a wallop at like 9% or something.

Two from up this way that are decent are the Big Time Scarlet Fire IPA which is made over in the U-District and the Boundary Bay IPA from up in Bellingham. You probably won't be able to get those down there. I'll have to get my hands on one of those Moylan's that you spoke so highly of...

hark said...

hmmm... i can't speak for Speakeasy, but AV Hop Ottin remains in top three for my fav IPAs. Right up there with 90 Minute and Stone IPA. 90 Minute is a consistent top performer from voters