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Jan 12, 2008 09:41 AM

Blind test of Hoppy Beers

Going in, Alpha King was my favorite. My son preferred Two Hearted. The GF had no real favorite. The three of us did a blind tasting of the following.

Alpha King
Two Hearted
SN Celebration
SN Anniversary
Victory Hopdevil
Surly Furious

We rated the beers on a scale of 1 - 10, with fractions.
The overall highest average was a tie between Two Hearted, and Furious.
The highest individual scores went to Furious, with my son and I both rating it highest.
The order by average was..
Furious and Two Hearted
Alpha King
SN Anniversary
SN Celebration

I think the order they were served might have made a difference. You get serious hop overload after a bit. We were doing 5 oz samples.
I had Celebration first. I scored it 9.4, my second highest.
My son and GF had the Celebration next to last, they scored it 7 and 7.5.
They both admit to loving the Celebration otherwise.
We took breaks between samples, and had crackers and water, but it still does things to your taste buds. Not scientific, or probably even accurate within ourselves, but a lot of fun.
Try it, you'll see what I mean.

Just for fun, we each finished with a Double Dog. I didn't include it as it's a DIPA, but I thought it be interesting to see how it would come out.
GF 9.5
Son 6.5
Myself 8

It was just too much.

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  1. Great job on that one Bob, thanks for sharing. Sounds like a lot of fun and I was thinking that a good hot pepper platter may be the only thing to cleanse between the samples.

    I actually would like to do something very similar with IPAs, which are my favorite style as well and then try with other styles. I had the same impression that the hops may just be too much over the course of the tasting but only one (fun) way to find out. Potential lineup:

    Goose Island IPA
    Green Flash IPA
    Brooklyn East IPA
    Bells Two Hearted
    SN Celebration
    Stone IPA
    Urthel Hop It
    Victory Hop Devil
    AleSmith IPA
    Great Divide Titan

    2 Replies
    1. re: yankeefan

      Thanks. The only regret I have is that I didn't include Goose Island. It is my usual beer, and I would have liked to compare it to the rest. I was out, and didn't have time to go get some. Other than the Sierra Nevada's, I can't buy any of the others in Iowa. Brought em all home from Mn., except the Alpha King, which I had a supply of from last summer when they quit Iowa distribution. I think it was a little past its prime. If you can get hold of a Furious, it's one hell of a beer.
      Sounds like you have a good selection available to you. Let me know how it goes.

      1. re: Bobfrmia

        Goose Island is my favorite as well along with Hop Devil (so I think before the test) and Ive had to trade with folks from Chicago because unfortunately I cant get GI in Jersey. I recently took back some Alesmith and Green Flash from trips out to San Diego.

        Have to mention, single best thing I may have ever tasted was last week when I had arrogant bastard on cask. Silly good.

    2. Ooh, how fun! If I were to go with your 'available in Minnesota' list, I'd also include a Summit, either the EPA or the IPA.

      My West Coast list would include a Sierra or two, Lagunitas IPA, Terminal Gravity IPA, and Ninkasi Total Domination IPA. Maybe Pelican IPA (India Pelican Ale), but it's not as hoppy. Oh--and maybe a few from Full Sail--Lupulin Fresh Hop Ale and Slipknot Imperial Pale Ale, maybe their Prodigal Sun IPA and Wreck the Halls seasonal, too. Oh, and Rogue Imperial IPA, too! I'm sure there are plenty I'm forgetting.

      8 Replies
      1. re: lpfaf

        Try it.But I'd leave out the Imperials.
        I can get Summit in Iowa. Tried it way back when and wasn't overly impressed. Maybe I should give it another shot.

        1. re: Bobfrmia

          I'm drinking a Summit EPA. It is a real nice beer, but, I think it would have been a bit out of place in the lineup we had. The Hops just aren't

          1. re: Bobfrmia

            In my earlier drinking days, I got a bit burned out on over-hopped IPAs, but I've found that Boulevard's Pale Ale is surprisingly drinkable. I like IPAs to finish with a nice bite, where the hops were introduced near the end of the wort boil, rather than horribly bitter like a good portion of them invariably are. Do any of the beers you mentioned fit the bill?

            Thanks for the rundown, I'm always on the look out for new beers. A guy posted a review of Hoegaarden in the 'wooly imbibe' section of my site a while back, and although I hadn't tried it before, it's now one of my favorites. I'd love to find another beer that would have a bit of contrast from a belgian white.

            Recipes, Restaurant Reviews, Food News and More -

            1. re: sirregular

              "In my EARLIER drinking days, I got a bit burned out on over-hopped IPAs"

              You must REALLY be young. In my earlier drinking days (i.e. mid-late 80s) all there was were imports and Sam Adams.

              1. re: Chinon00

                You had better choices than I. Mid 70's in Iowa. Nothing. We were all excited to try Olympia. The first beer I ever had that wasn't a common macro, was Genesee(sp?) Cream Ale.
                It was the first beer with any flavor and I loved it. Got it on a trip to Denver. Brought home 3 cases. When it was gone I was back to nothing. I always remembered it fondly. It became available in Iowa in just the last few months. I tried one for the first time since 1978. Yuck. But that's ok, it made an early impression that paid off much later.

                1. re: Chinon00


                  I made it to weyerbacher last weekend and had a hell of a time touring the taps that they were sampling. Im not admittedly the biggest fan of their big beers in general but some are awfully good. Their double simcoe is just flat out off the hook and has now become a staple.

                  Believe it or not, I was blown away as well by the Merry Monks. well made. I had a great weekend consisting of Hair of the Dog offerings, I really have to get myself out to Oregon.

                2. re: sirregular

                  The beers we tried were all pretty much hop forward. I would put the Summit EPA in a class closer to the Boulevard you're refering to. The Summit has a more pronounced flavor than Bully, but if you can get it, give it a try.

                  1. re: Bobfrmia

                    i am very jealous you are drinking bells! is it back in chicago yet? i have not seen or heard anything.

          2. Bell's Hopslam Ale arrived at our local store last week. I bought a six pack. Per the label, "A biting, bitter, tongue bruiser of an ale. With a name like Hopslam what did you expect?" It is 10% alcohol by volume and is indeed hoppy. It is an excellent brew and comes available seasonally in January. Here is a photo.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Davydd

              OWWWW. That hurts. Driving to Mn this time of year is a crap shoot. Doesn't matter what the weatherman says, an inch of snow can close I 35.
              But, I just got a comp coupon for a room at Mystic Lake. Hmmm