Has Anyone Attended an IPA Tasting?
I’m thinking of hosting a tasting/scoring of IPA’s from California brewers. I’ve hosted a stout tasting in the past and it went well but my concern with IPA’s is that due to the nature of the ales people’s taste buds will be shot early on and it will be difficult to distinguish differences later in the tasting (I’m planning on having around 10 different IPA’s).
So I was wondering if anyone had any thoughts on that and if there are any opinions on whether it’s o.k. to include Double IPA’s in the mix with (single) IPA’s.
For me personally, trying to evaluate more than about four IPA's or IIPA's at a sitting is not so much fun. It can be done, but it takes concentration, and ten IPA's is a tough task for most anyone. But if it's casual and you're not looking for a real serious comparative evaluation, then drink up and have fun.
Pretty much just agree with Insidious Rex. I did a total of 6 IPA's/Pale Ale's, and 1 IIPA, and even with water, crackers, and a 5 minute wait in between, the hops will fry your taste buds.
We scored them all, and I wish we would have waited an hour, and sampled them in reverse order and scored them again.
Just as an FYI, we did Surly Furious, SN Celebration, SN Harvest, Goose Island IPA, Victory Hop Devil, FFF Alpha King, and Flying Dog Double Dog.
It was blind tasting, and it was still damn fun.
It's was a year or so ago, but I believe the order went 1st Furious, 2nd Alpha King, 3rd Hop devil, and Celebration, 4th Harvest, 5th GI, and Double Dog at the bottom. The Double Dog was the last thing we sampled, and we were pretty burned at that point, and it was like pouring gas on a fire.
I hosted an "Exploration of the English and American Pale Ale" tasting last year. I attempted to obtain all the beers that represented the "Pale Ale" style including:
Extra Special Bitter (ESB)
English Pale Ale
American Pale Ale
I got all the beers listed except the Pale Mild and added a Belgian IPA as well.
Because the tasting was broad and progressed from lightest to heaviest there was no issue with burnt palates. Also I served plenty of fried chicken, sausages, and other greasy foods in anticipation of the hops and the quantity of beers being served (12 beers total).
10 big beers of similar style might burn out the palate so I'd try and present some variation and obviously go lightest to heaviest.
Ive done small scale IPA tastings before and you are exactly right that you quickly lose the ability to distinguish taste well (although after enough IPA's you dont really care). Its frustrating if you are doing a comparison competition or a guessing contest. A little like doing a hot sauce tasting really. Pretty soon they are all just hot. I have found that large scale IPA tastings usually involve many days (or weeks) of tasting at different locations for tournament competitions and such. But if your interest is just to sit around and enjoy some different IPA's then just keep it fairly informal without great expectations and everyone should be fine.