April/May 2007


One night I had a dream. In my dream there was a refrigerator filled with so many IPAs that it overflowed. They were all different, yet similar in hoppy goodness. There were so many that
had to call up legions of Hopheads to help me do battle with these ferocious beers. I woke up to discover (GASP!) that it was no dream, it was the IPA tasting for the Beer Beacon! I asked
and the breweries answered with 23 different IPAs.
Tasting the IPAs is no easy task. It requires many people.
Special thanks to note takers John and Tjane for helping out, and Chris the bartender for cleaning up!

The Place:
Brinks Tavern in Downtown, Buffalo NY

The Tasters:
In addition to the Core Four (Hop Jack, Vinny, Big Evil and Magistrate), we had a bunch of novice tasters and hopheads (Some of the names are real and some aliases to protect their identities from the authorities): Gareth (med student, second tasting); Schultz (novice brewer with big plans); Chip (novice brewer/ladies man); Matt; Kurt; Arthur; Johann von Beer (a taster of obvious noble ancestry); Peter; Noodles (novice brewing with Schultz, loves the smell of hops); and Tjane (the only lady brave enough to deal with all these guys.)

The Beers:

Group 1
Chip, Schulz, Hop Jack, Vinny, Matt

Samuel Smith India Ale
18200 Olympic Avenue South, Tukwila, Washington 98188

Avg Rating: 6.9

Matt generally liked this beer because it was “very easy to drink,” and Schultz agreed. Slight malts and hops in the nose, and Chip detected a slight “burnt” smell. Malt flavors were strong in the taste, balanced by the English hops. Chip also detected a bit of citrus/apple flavors.

Wolavers IPA
793 Exchange Street, Middlebury, Vermont 05753

Avg Rating: 5.5

The panel generally agreed there was a bit of skunk in the smell of
this beer, but it did not carry over into the taste. Hop Jack claimed
that “oxidation was evident” and Matt determined it was “more in
the average range.”

Weyerbacher Hops Infusion
905 Line Street Easton, Pennsylvania 18042

Avg Rating: 7.8

“Wow, this baby has 7 hops!” - Vinny. The panel felt this was a hoppier beer than the first two, by far. Schultz felt the taste at first was weak, while Chip felt it was a lot. The finish was nice and bitter, and while everyone liked the beer over-all, Chip didn't feel he could drink a lot of it.

Lancaster Hop Hog
302 N. Plum Street, Lancaster, Pennsylvania 17602

Avg Rating: 6.3

Hop Jack thought that while the hop flavor was adequate, the malts dominated in the beer - “More of an APA than an IPA,” - but still felt
it was “good drinking.” The panel agreed there were many sweet
flavors in the nose (malt, toffee, caramel) and Chip detected some
raisins in the taste. The consensus was that although the hops in this
beer were a little weak for an IPA, the taste was still pretty good.
“Decent,” said Vinny, “but not great.”

Lagunitas IPA
1280 North McDowell Boulevard, Petaluma, California 94954

Avg Rating: 7.1

Matt disagreed a bit with Jack and Vinny on this one. Matt felt this was a “very plain, easy drinking IPA. The hops and overall general taste seems mixed right, but lacks any distinguishing taste.” However Vinny referred to it as a “refined IPA - complex,” and Hop Jack felt the brewers did a “good job.” The beer maintained a hoppy bitterness while still remaining light.

New Holland Existential
66 East 8th Street, Holland, Michigan 49423

Avg Rating: 6.5

“Big Ass Hop In-Friggin'-Fused Malt Alcohol.” - Vinny (we realize that doesn't make too much sense, but that's what happens). Schultz put it
well also, I think: “Powerful taste… very sweet.” This beer took our
tasters by surprise. It's big alcohol and sweet flavors made this seem
more like a barley wine than an IPA. Matt and Hop Jack felt it needed
to age a couple years. Vinny felt it was strictly “for the freaks,” and
raised his hand for more.


Southern Tier Unearthly
2051A Stoneman Circle, Lakewood, New York 14750

Avg Rating: 8.9

It was evident from the flavor that this was a “big boy.” Chip said it “doesn't taste like alcohol but tastes very strong.” A lot of fruity hops
were detected, as well mellow malts. “This is what a good strong IPA should be.” - Matt “A well crafted beer - intense, strong, juicy…
damn it's good.” - Vinny

Group 2
Evil, Gareth, Kurt, Arthur, Johann

Cooperstown Back Yard IPA
P.O. Box 276 Milford, New York 13807
1-877-FINE ALE

Avg Rating: 5.6

Evil noted the English style right away. Claiming it was closer to an ESB, he felt it was “strictly for futbol hooligans.” Gareth felt it was “good, but not enough flavor.” Arthur said it was “bitter, but not much bite.”


Long Trail IPA
Rte 4 & 100A, Bridgewaters Corne, Vermont 05035
802-672-5011, ltales@longtrail.com

Avg Rating 4.1

Johann described this as light bodied, while other members described it as “bland.” Upon comparison of the glasses, the tasters discovered that Gareth's looked completely different from the others - cloudier and lighter, almost like a wheat beer. His was the end of the bottle of an unfiltered beer. This led them to believe that the taste would have been different had it not separated in such a way.


North Coast Acme IPA
455 North Main Street, Fort Bragg, California 95437
707 964-2739, info@northcoastbrewing.com

Avg Rating 4.8

Kurt said this beer had a “puckering” effect. Other tasters detected the sourness as well. Evil described it as a “bitter after bite.” Both Johann and Arthur sensed something “funky” in the hops, and Arthur also felt it was a bit “fizzy on the tongue.”


New Holland Mad Hatter
66 East 8th Street, Holland, Michigan 49423

Avg Rating 5.2

Both Johann and Evil called this a “session beer.” The panel agreed this had a very promising nose, but the taste was a bit of a let down. (“Green bud” - Johann) Arthur said it goes down smooth, but that “it doesn't taste right, like my ex-girlfriend.” (Good to know, Arthur) Evil also referred to it as a “gateway IPA,” implying that drinking this will lead to drinking harder, bigger IPAs. Be warned…


Southern Tier IPA
2051A Stoneman Circle, Lakewood, New York 14750

Avg Rating 5.3

“BUUUUUURP!” declared Evil as he noted the perfumey aftertaste. He, Gareth and Kurt detected a bit of chemical flavor and smell (“Funk meets Clorox.” - Gareth). Johann called it non-descript with light to moderate hops.


Boulder Mojo
2880 Wilderness Place, Boulder, Colorado 80301
303-444-8448, webguy@boulderbeer.com

Avg Rating 6.7

“I like it. Oh man - I can't believe it's Mojo.” - Johann. Gareth got in touch with his inner hippie - “I like the earthiness.” He said he could “drink a couple glasses, but would like if it had more hops.” Evil got a slight melon in the nose and taste, while Arthur said simply “Tasty.”


Lagunitas Maximus
1280 North McDowell Boulevard, Petaluma, California 94954

Avg Rating 7.3

This beer was full-bodied and quite malty for an IPA, but it was a double, after all. Johann would have like some more hops to “bring it all home,” but Arthur said his “palate loves it; I can taste the booze!” He also said it smelled like a fish food he used to have. Kurt noticed the “dry finish and full bitter taste.” Evil liked the fact that it “dulled his senses.” Then they both then regaled the group with tales of hops…


Rogue Imperial IPA
2320 OSU Drive, Newport, Oregon 97365
541.867.3660, NewportOffice@Rogue.com

Avg Rating 8.6

As Evil said, this one was a “crowd pleaser.” Everyone enjoyed the
big, strong hop flavors. It was unfiltered looking, but “not much wheat flavor,” Gareth noted, with hints of citrus, i.e. ruby red grapefruit, and floral in the nose. Evil said it “Rang my bell!!” and Arthur said it
“was sucking on you momma's…” well, you can figure out the rest,
but I wouldn't recommend it.


Group 3
The Magistrate, Tjane, Noodles, Peter

Otter Creek 15th Anniversary IPA
793 Exchange Street, Middlebury, Vermont 05753

Avg Rating 6.3

This beer was well received by the panel. Both Peter and Noodles said they would buy it for themselves. It was lightly hopped and possessed heavy malt flavor that mellowed out by the end. Tjane and Noodles would have liked some more hops.


Magic Hat HI.P.A.
5 Bartlett Bay Road, South Burlington, Vermont 05403

Avg Rating 4.5

The panel felt this beer was little too mild for their tastes. “Light in body, not big enough. Ghost-like flavor,” commented Pete. The Magistrate said it “tastes and smells like a Niagara grape.”


Flying Dog Snake Dog
2401 Blake Street, Denver, Colorado 80205

Avg Rating 6.3

Noodles like this one - “big hop bite. Tastes like an IPA should.” Peter said the head was “fluffy” and that it was sweeter than the others. Tjane commented that there was a “stronger aroma than actual taste of hops,” but that it was easy to drink. The Magistrate agreed, and even though he would “expect more hops from an American IPA, I liked it!”


New Glarus Hop Hearty Ale
Cty Trk W & Hwy. 69, New Glarus, Wisconsin 53574

Avg Rating 5.0

Despite the somewhat lighter body, this beer was still well balanced and smooth. “Going down easy,” commented Tjane, but she would have liked a little more hops. The Magistrate (“can drink it!”) said he would have thought the hops and malt flavors would be bigger for an IPA, but that it probably had more alcohol than it seemed.


Mad River Jamaica Sunset Ale
195 Taylor Way, Blue Lake, California 95525

Avg Rating 6.3

This beer had an herby, fruity quality about it. Peter called it a “white winey/grape juice taste.” Tjane said she'd have another. The Magistrate referred to it as a “spicy hop” bitterness that “cleans up in the end.” Noodles felt it was “bitter, but had no real zing.”


Clipper City Loose Cannon
4615 Hollins Ferry Road, Suite B, Baltimore, Maryland 21227

Avg Rating 7.0

“Straight to the point. HOPS!” - Noodles. This beer didn't mess around. Peter felt it was heavily spiced with a “good kick” and a nice, lingering finish. The Magistrate felt it could use more malt to balance it out, but Tjane didn't mind - “Yeah - this is my kind of IPA.”


Rogue Cliffhanger IPA
2320 OSU Drive, Newport, Oregon 97365
541.867.3660, NewportOffice@Rogue.com

Avg Rating 5.0

This beer was sweeter with not as much heavy hops. The Magistrate tasted what he described as a “paper taste” at the start with a dry finish. Noodles felt it was “too balanced” for him and that it “tasted more like a strong pale ale.” Peter definitely tasted something woodsy in the middle, and felt that the taste “lingers then flops.”


Lagunitas Hop Stoopid
1280 North McDowell Boulevard, Petaluma, California 94954

Avg Rating 8.0

The group was in agreement and Tjane put it pretty well, “Big, strong, spicy … the best of the night! But not just because it's strong.” Peter said this was “not too filling, with a strong taste through the whole thing… doesn't flake out. Leaves slowly, gracefully.” The Magistrate noted its complexity, and Noodles described it as “Bold tasting with a clean finish.”


Thanks to all the breweries who participated in this issue's Beer Beacon!
Don't worry about our tasters, they all made it home safely and dreamed their own sweet, hoppy dreams…

--- by Kelly Kroese, Beer Beacon columnist

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