So I am trying to find an IPA that I like and what better way to find out than to taste test several against each other. I have found, without any surprise, that tasting several similar beers at the same time gives me a good idea of what the style is like and what I like best within that style. But there are a slew of IPAs on the market. How do I decide which ones to try? What are the parameters? Well, this may not be a BJCP sanctioned way to do it, but here are my parameters:
- First and foremost, is availability. I have to be able to purchase the subject beer locally. Luckily, the Alpharetta, GA Total Wine near me stocks a good assortment of IPA’s -and this is a key – in singles, so I don’t have to waste a whole six pack on a beer I didn’t like!
- Second, I had to choose some highly rated IPA’s by Beer Connoisseur. Why Beer Connoisseur? They seem to have the best rating system, as it is conducted by professionals and compares styles within each other; unlike Untappd, Rate Beer, and Beer Advocate, which give too much reign to beer jockys like!
- Third, what about local beers? Decided to throw in some local favorites. Definitely want to include local beers, as there is potential for some undiscovered gems there.
- Last, need to be as fair as possible. So I will be cleansing my palate between tastings and will try lowest IBU to highest IBU to prevent a high IBU beer from ruining by palate before trying some others.
- Have fun! I enjoy doing these kinds of direct comparisons because I learn the most from them.
Who are the contestants and why did I pick them? That’s a fair question, so here are the answers:
Top Rated by Beer Connoisseur:
- Creature Comforts Tropicalia – This Athens, GA brewer tallied a 96 by Beer Connoisseur AND meets the local brewery criteria.
- Bell’s Two Hearted Ale – Also scored a 96 as one of the top rated IPAs in America.
- Harpoon IPA – Had to include this one as it is one the original IPAs still on the market.
- Stone Go To IPA – A well know, respected maker of hops forward IPAs.
- Atlanta Brewing Co. (formerly Red Brick Brewing) – The oldest Georgia brewery with continuous production.
- Sweetwater IPA – A popular Georgia brewery. A lot of people like Sweetwater IPA and they make some solid beers.
Those are the six contestants – two highly rated, nationally know IPAs (Harpoon & Bell’s), one nationally know IPA with a reputation for good IPAs (Stone Brewery) and three local breweries (Creature Comforts, Sweetwater, & Atlanta Beer Co.), one of which Beer Connoisseur rated one of the best in the country (Creature Comforts). I figure between those six, I should be able to find something I like, right? Stay tuned for the unexpected results and one major shocking surprise…