Of Oregon IPAs

unnamed-1I’m currently at the Hawthorne Hophouse, having just completed my sampler flight of 15 of the “best” Oregon-brewed IPAs (half priced at $6 on Mondays).

“Fifteen? Surely you mean 12, you drunken reprobate!” you might have caught yourself exclaiming.

No, I mean 15 because after I ran through the dozen IPAs (no Imperials, no Sessions, no Grapefruit-infused, no sage-pomegranate aged in tequila barrels for a year while having daily positive affirmations recited to it by the lead brewer), I asked if they’d deliver a run-off of my 3 faves to really seal the deal.

All January long, both Hophouse houses are running this event: a blind flight of 12 IPAs for 12 bucks ($6 on Mondays) and the winner, after voting solely based on taste and not presumptions, goes on the 1-tap for the whole year. Spoiler alert: There are no spoilers in this blog post.

It can easily be argued that if there are 185 brewing companies in Oregon (by MY count and I promise that’s up-to-date as of 1-5-15), then there are in the vicinity of 235 IPAs so how can they have narrowed it down to only a dozen? I hear you and agree, but take it up with their mgmt. For my part, I thought the 12 they selected were good calls based on reputation and taste. But a funny thing happened on the way to the Hophouse…

unnamedOrder the flight and they bring you a tray of twelve 2.5-oz samples. Just enough to give you a good enough idea of which ones you liked, which ones you didn’t, and which ONE you loved. As alluded to, I loved three. What blew me away was that I told my wait person I suspected they were all new to my personal pantheon but, in fact, were actually the two of the three I would’ve picked based purely on assumption and bias. FWIW, my 4th place vote was one I always put in my Top 3. BTW, I have 5 top threes.

The blind tasting runs all month long. I’ll post a follow-up around February 1st with my tasting notes, scores, and the eventual winner. But for now, here are the IPAs as they appear on taps 1-12 on Hawthorne:

1. Boneyard RPM

2. Hop Valley Alphadelic

3. Crux Outcast

4. Breakside IPA

5. Ninkasi Total Domination

6. Ft. George Vortex

7. Laurelwood Workhorse

8. GoodLife Descender

9. Gigantic IPA

10. Migration Luscious Lupulin

11. Barley Brown’s Pallet Jack

12. Double Mtn. Hop Lava.

What do you currently claim as your favorite Oregon IPA? Are there any you feel they blatantly left off the list? Will you come in and “vote”? Hoppy New Year.

Tasting Blind

citylogo-lgI just remember getting an email from the editor of SF Weekly’s food blog, SFoodie, asking for a quote about some upcoming beer something-or-other and I responded, “I can certainly give you one, or how about I just write it up as your new beer writer?”

It was a great gig for a few years, one I happily relinquished when we moved to Portland. As such, I have no intention of archiving every blog post or print story I did for them, but below is a complete list of links to the most fun series I started, Tasting Blind, wherein once a month I lined up a panel of at least 4 local beer experts, including a publican to host it, and brought in many iterations of a beer style including, when possible, locally brewed ones, craft beers from other states, imports, and macro brands if they existed.

1. Pilsners (Feb. 2010)

2. Stouts (Mar. 2010)

3. Hefeweizens (Apr. 2010)

4. Pales (May 2010)

5. IPAs (June 2010)

6. Summer (July 2010)

7. Summer fruits (Aug. 2010)

8. Oktoberfests (Sep. 2010)

9. Pumpkins (Oct. 2010)

10. Coffee beers (Nov. 2010)

11. Holiday beers (Dec. 2010)

Bonus: Blind holiday beers for Willy Week (Dec. 2012)

Bonus 2: Blind holiday beers from the series as continued by my hand-picked replacement at SF Weekly, Jason Henry (Dec. 2011)