With three fresh new IPAs hitting the shelves, it’s a good time to plan an informal blind tasting with friends. So I called my good friend Rich Manning (an Orange County Gayot food critic, no less) for a little hoppy beer showdown.
Our Three Beers (pictured):
Left Coast Brewing Hop Juice Triple IPA at 10% ABV, now offered in 16-ounce cans, seven days old as confirmed by the brewery, no date on can.
Coronado Brewing and Cigar City Brewing Collaboration – Conquista IPA at 6.5%, offered in a 22-ounce bomber. Three days old as per bottle date.
Firestone Walker Chronology: Leo v. Ursus, Unfiltered Imperial IPA at 8.3%, offered in a 16-ounce can. Ten days old as per can date.
Blind Tasting Tips:
Three identical looking beers, but oh so different.
Use the same glassware for each beer. Leave at least an inch of air space for “nosing.” Rinse the glassware with cold water before pouring beer.
Have a friend note the beer number on each glass and bottle or can.
Evaluate the beer aroma silently, then open up with discussion after evaluation.
Evaluate the flavor and mouthfeel, as well as an overall impression. Leave some beer for later comparison.
Eat some plain crackers, drink some water, then move on to the next.
Set a numeric scale for each: 10 for aroma, 10 for flavor, 5 for mouthfeel, and 10 for overall.
Write down any guesses as to what beer you think it is before the reveal.
Blind-Notes on Each:
➤Left Coast Brewing Hop Juice Triple IPA: On the nose: Sweet alcohol booziness, resinous pine, citrus, Meyer lemon, some minerality and earthiness in the background. Long-lasting sticky hop tannins and alcohol keep the flavor wave hitting. Overall a very big beer that comes out scrapping with bold aromatics, overall just a big too big for our tastes, but well crafted.
Combined scores: Aroma 16/20, Taste 12/20, Mouthfeel 8/10, Overall Impression 13.5/20: Total 49.5
➤Coronado Brewing and Cigar City Brewing Conquista IPA: Nose is somewhat like the 405 at LAX after a rain, that is to say, very diesel fuel forward. After vigorous swirls, juniper berry, smokehouse almonds, dank, earthy, and herbaceous notes pop out. After the first sip, I immediately place this beer as the IPA of the bunch with the lowest alcohol, showing subtleties compared to the last beer. The mouthfeel is abrupt, dry, crisp, but definitely hoppy in a way I’ve never had. On its own, the beer livened up to be quite nice, however compared to the aromatics of the other two beers, not so much.
Combined scores: Aroma 11, Taste 13, Mouthfeel 5.5, Overall 11.5: Total 41
➤Firestone Chronology – Leo v. Ursus Imperial IPA: On the nose, notes of Fruit Stripe Gum, tangerine, and fresh-picked berries. Although not a jumbled pile of complexity, it smells great. Mouthfeel is bright and spa-like, this beer is lush, refreshing, and almost a palate cleanse from the other two beers. I got goosebumps, which is an automatic 10 pointer in my super complex beer judging guide. We both agree this is an outstanding IPA.
Combined scores: Aroma 15, Taste 17.5, Mouthfeel 10, Overall 18: Total 60.5
All in all, blind tasting is always a fun experience with friends, as preconceived notions, marketing, and serving container can alter judgment. These were all great beers! Try this with your friends.