Wednesday, April 30, 2008

A Great American IPA

This isn't a review, but an observation and admittedly random post. I've been going through the results of the World Beer Cup and comparing winners with last year's Great American Beer Festival. I'm doing this mainly to see how the two stand up in terms of preference, you can tell a lot about a judge by what wins, when the hair is split which piece to they hold...

Of the myriad of awards out there, one stuck out - the American IPA - but before I get to the beer, allow me to step back for a moment. We've all followed the craze for the next hopped-up beer, or the next great imperial whatever. Beer rating sites love these beers, the tops of the IPA category on both RateBeer and BeerAdvocate becoming a commodity worth trading for, traveling for or paying a premium for. What's funny about both of these sites? Neither of them list, in their 'best of' IPA categories, the one beer that took home a gold medal at both the GABF and World Beer Cup. Not even on their list!

Odell's IPA, from Colorado, is the beer that won at both events. At GABF this beer was followed by Russian River's Blind Pig and a new brewer from San Diego, Mission Brewery. You can surmise, by the ranking of Blind Pig, that the judges at this event liked them some hops, California style. At the World Beer Cup Odell beat out a new-to-market beer, Union Jack by Firestone Walker and Pelican's India Pelican Ale. Saying nothing about the undoubted quality of FW and Pelican, these beers both have more subdued hop profiles, have more balance. Different judges with different beers on the podium, but with one clear winner. I don't know about you, but I find that impressive.

Again, this is not a review. That said, in the past eight months Odell has beat out some really major beers, with drastically different flavors and aromas. Believe me when I say this beer's got my full attention. I have sometimes scratched my head with some results from these events, but seeing the caliber of judges for both, I would not dare to challenge their ability of palate or understanding with regards to brewing. If judges at both events deem this beer worthy of two gold medals, you can bet I'll be searching this out soon.

In case you were wondering, lovers of all things hoppy, there were no duplicate winners in the Double IPA category and only Laurelwood (Portland) was on the podium for the Double Red Ale in both events, bringing home a GABF gold and WBC silver - impressive indeed.