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2014 Central States I.P.A. Blind Tasting Championship

Over the last couple years I've done numerous IPA blind tastings in search of the best available in this part of the country. Four brews have consistently risen to the very top: Avery Maharajah, Great Divide Hercules, Lagunitas Hop Stoopid, and Odell Myrcennary.

So with some IPA-loving pals 4 of us conducted a blind tasting of these four giant beers. Here are the weighted rankings, with 1 best, 4 worst:
Myrcennary: 1.5 with two first-place votes
Hop Stoopid: 2.33 with one first place vote
Maharajah: 2.5 with two first places and two last places!
Hercules: 3.0 no first place votes

It's interesting that Maharajah was the most polarizing beer... due to the initial sweetness in it's flavor profile, by far the sweetest of the 4 brews. I personally had it tied for first with the next-sweetest beer (Myrcennary) as I definitely prefer a bitter-sweet balance in an IPA.

Hercules and Hop Stoopid were noted as the drier of the beers. One taster initially didn't like H-S (relatively speaking), but after a few more sips it grew on him and earned his 2nd place vote.

Everyone thought the 4 beers were all very good or better in their own right.

As for palate consistency, one guy joined the tasting late and told me he had drank some Hop Stoopid earlier. Tasting them blind it was his favorite beer, followed by Myrcennary in 2nd place.

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  1. Thought I'd pile on some random IPA tastings to this thread. Just tried a few beers from the "Oskar Blues" brewery out of Colorado: their Dales IPA, Deviant Dales IPA, and Gubna IPA.

    Have to admit to being a bit skeptical about these given that they are all packaged in cans, but some people swear by cans so why not give it a go. None of these were tasted blind, or were part of an elaborate multi-beer tasting.

    Deviant Dale's: Easily my favorite of the 3. Really nice bitter-sweet flavor balance, rich texture. Would definitely buy again and put into a tasting situation.

    Dales: Not bad by any means, just not as memorable. Softer / rounder flavors.

    Gubna: This had a big flavor but tended to the bitter side of the spectrum. In fact the bitterness lingered almost to a point of seeming "chalky" on my palate.

    Of the 3, I'd be most interested in Deviant Dales and will definitely follow up on it as time permits.

    4 Replies
    1. re: TombstoneShadow

      I much prefer cans to bottles when it comes to hoppy beer. No problems with the beer being lightstruck, and the hop flavors seem to be better preserved over time.

      1. re: Josh

        Unlike years ago, I no longer mind cans at all, and think they do a great job keeping beer in good condition.

        1. re: Tripeler

          Interesting... that's what this beer vendor told me. Still, something about the can is off-putting to me, perhaps more prejudicial than anything because the flavor of these seemed fine.

          Any chance that the metallic element might "leach" into the beer after a time? I guess I could buy the argument that with a bottle: a) there's more chance of light getting in and b) the bottle cap is probably inherently less secure as far as letting oxygen in than a sealed can would be... however I think a cork would be as good as a can... so that would be more of a problem with bottle caps than with bottles per se. Further I've tasted quite a few bottles aged several years, and have some as old as 2007 now, and don't notice deterioration...

          So where does that leave us on the can vs. bottle issue?

          1. re: TombstoneShadow

            "Still, something about the can is off-putting to me, perhaps more prejudicial than anything because the flavor of these seemed fine."

            For the longest time, I felt the same way. But, thanks to developments in can coatings, the performance of cans today is better than ever. Also, since the coatings are so secure, there is very little chance of metallic contamination in the beer, and the same can be said for the coatings used for metal caps on bottles. Interesting in that some Belgian beers are corked, then capped. Double protection?

            Can vs. bottle? It is really not an issue with me any more.

    2. Another random IPA tasting... just filing these under the 2014 Central States Championship so I have a place for IPA notes... feel free to file any of your IPA notes here as well...

      Tonights candidates:
      Stone "Drink By" IPA (in this case date 4-20-14)
      Deschutes Hop Henge IPA

      These were intended as blind tasting, didn't quite make it, but the set up is similar to blind. Brief tasting comments follow:

      Stone: Medium-sharp, singular semi-bitter impression. Just predominantly dry.

      Deschutes: A bit (bit only) sweeter than Stone... initial slurps had a faint "vomit" taste to them. This is okay, kind of ineffectual overall.

      Am I in love with either of these: no. Won't buy again, this is the end of the line. That said, they aren't bad, they are obviously well-made, just the end product leaves me underwhelmed.

      1. A local store just got in the "Oskar Blues" line out of Colorado. Talked me in to trying a few of their PA's, all in cans: Dales, Gubna, and Deviant Dales. Of the 3 I definitely preferred Deviant Dales, so much so I decided to try a blind tasting against my current go-to big IPA: Odell Myrcennary. Tasting notes follow:

        Glass 1: Smooth, round, mild bitter fades to mild sweet.

        Glass 2: A more lingering bitter taste. Harsh edges. Just falls a bit short in comparison tonite.

        Revealing the beers:
        1: Deviant Dales
        2: Myrcennary.

        So DD beats Myrcennary in round one, that's saying something. Will definitely work this into our monthly tasting event and include it in future blind taste offs. Recommend you try this.

        Side-note: I was one of those "beers in a can are bad" snobs for a long time, and still don't really like the cans, can't say exactly why. Anyway, I have no problem with this one.

        Follow-up 1 Hr later: After time in the glass, the Myrcennary decants to a very complex, less bitter mix of rich IPA flavors, ultimately proving perhaps a bit more complex and interesting than DD's. Like 'em both.

        4 Replies
          1. re: JAB

            Ten-FIDY... I'm on the lookout for that, but I don't think I've seen it around here yet... thanks for the tip.

            Speaking of stouts, just picked up a couple bottles of Stone Imperial Russkie Stout, which I've never had before (had most of their PAs) have good hopes for it.

            1. re: TombstoneShadow

              I think that you'll be pleased with that Stone.

              1. re: TombstoneShadow

                I suggest aging it at least a year.