My mother-in-law gave me a pair of paddles and a set of mini-lager glasses, perfect for at-home beer tastings. Kim and I hosted some friends for dinner and drinks on Sunday evening, so I broke out the tasters.
On the paddle, from left to right, is:
- Great Divide's Hercules Double IPA
- Boulevard's Singlewide IPA
- New Belgium's Red Hoptober
- My own Ubrewtu American IPA homebrew
The Hercules is simply a fantastic beer. An ever so slight hint of Belgian sour on a terrific, imperial, hoppy body, this is a spectacular beer.
I have always really enjoyed Boulevard's Single-Wide IPA, on its own. In fact, I think that was my first Boulevard beer ever. A few years ago, Kim and I bought a 1968 Airstream Globetrotter. One trip to the grocery store, Kim picked up a sixer of the Single-Wide IPA because it had an Airstream on the label. As it turned out, I happened to really like the beer. That was a few years before we actually visited the Boulevard Brewery in Kansas City, MO. In any case, stacking this IPA up against these other 3, it strangely didn't stand up. It's still a very good, drinkable beer. I get a light, fresh hopped taste with more than a usual amount of citrus for an IPA. But it was a little thin.
While not an IPA, the other hoppy beer I happened to have in my fridge was my very last of the New Belgium fall seasonal, Red Hoptober. As suggested by the name, it's something like a tightly hopped Octoberfest, but brewed as an amber ale (rather than a dark lager). It has a toasty start with a malty, caramel finish, while leaving plenty of hops on the nose. Certainly a good beer.
I was more than a little nervous to see how my own IPA stood up to the rest. I quietly thought to myself as I poured the tasters for Josh and I, if all of this homebrewing is entirely in vain. I mean, it's easy enough to run up to the corner store and pick up New Belgium and Boulevard sixers. The Great Divide special bottling means driving a little further to specialty beer store, but still that's easier/cheaper/quicker than dedicating a half-day and a half-a-hundred-bucks to a brew day. But I'm proud to say that I was delighted with how my IPA tasted, even along side these 80+ and 90+ BeerAdvocate pours. My IPA is my latest brew, and I do believe it's my best. It has a deep copper color, a fair amount of carbonation and a solid caramel-cream head. It's sweet, but not overly so. I has a bit of ABV, but certainly not as much as the imperial double IPA. In fact, after the tasting was done, it was a pint of homebrew that Josh and I both opted for. I took that as a nice compliment ;-)