Saturday, May 18, 2013

IPA Challenge Cup Final

So I often begin these blog posts as follows, "So I....". This time, given the fact that this post represents the culmination of almost 2 months of conscientious and "careful" beer drinking, it would seem inappropriate to start in such a flippant manner. For those of you scoring at home here are the finalists (l-r):

Goose Island India Pale Ale 5.9% abv   
Thornbridge Jaipur India Pale Ale  5.9% abv 
ODell India Pale Ale  7% abv 
Brew Dog Punk IPA  5.6% abv

Anyhoo, I decided to do the final as a blind tasting, I know there are pros and cons of blind tasting in general,  but given that I knew the identities of the items to be tasted I figured we'd be OK. I asked Herself to half fill four identical numbered glasses with the beers above and then number the bottles appropriately.

As luck would have it, none of the four were especially visually distinctive, so no clues there. My tasting notes were as follows:

Beer#1: Lots of hops, not much malt. Nice, but not smooth or balanced. Guess: Punk 
Beer#2: Smooth, balanced and lovely. Guess: Odell/Jaipur 
Beer#3: Wow, Smooth, balanced, lovely and some delicious fruitiness. Guess: Goose Island 
Beer#2: Smooth, balanced and lovely. Guess: Odell/Jaipur

#1 is definitely Punk; it has none of the malty sweetness to balance the bitterness of the hops. #2 and #4 are both really smooth, well balanced and very tasty; I'm guessing it's the Jaipur and the ODell but I can't tell them apart, blind.  #3 is just stonking, it takes #2 and #4 and adds some subtle fruit that elevates this ale to near mythic levels.  My guess is the Goose Island, as I have really loved this before.

Time for the big reveal, I went and fetched the now be-stickered bottles.

I got 1.5 out of four, not a good strike rate, given that I had tasted them all recently. I knew I liked the ODell but both Herself (who knew which beer was which, but hadn't tasted the ODell before) and I, clearly preferred #3 above the others.

The winner was the Odell IPA and joint second was the Goose Island and the Jaipur with the Punk bringing up the rear. The Odell is simply magnificent, but a look at the price of each beer makes for some fascinating reading. I worked out the cost per litre of each of the 16 entrants and the results are below...

So I have expensive tastes and so does Herself, who'd a thunk it?

Although it's obvious, it bears repeating, the above exercise, from 16 beers to one, is not an empirical exercise and only reflects my own perverse tastes in ale. Your mileage can, and invariably will, vary.

As I type I am finishing off the Goose Island along with a snifter of Glenlivet Nadurra 16yo, and a fine pairing they make. It has been a long week for all concerned, but hopefully we are out the woods now. Goodnight, and may your god go with you...

Update - here are the links for all of the pevious rounds

Quarter Final 1 is here,  Quarter Final 2 is here, Quarter Final 3 is here,  Quarter Final 4 is here
Quarter Finals 5 & 6 are here, Quarter Finals 7 & 8 are here

Semi Finals 1 & 2 are here, Semi Finals 3 & 4 are here


  1. Great series of posts on the IPA Challenge Willie. I haven't tried the Odell IPA yet, but I'll be on the lookout for it.

  2. Cheers John. I have since found a few more that I might throw into the fray at some point in the future...