IPA Challenge – The Reveal No. 6

IPA Challenge
IPA Challenge – The Contenders

I know you’ve been here. You are out with a group of friends, they are all ordering IPA’s, laughing, and commenting on how great the one they are drinking is and how you should to try it. You wince because you’ve only tried a couple in the past and didn’t really enjoy any of them. Ever since then, you’ve avoided them all together. “If only I could find just one that I like, I’d stick with it” you think to yourself. If I just described you or you’ve had a similar situation, I understand completely how you feel. We probably have similar tastes in beer. I prefer something well-balanced and don’t mind some bitterness, but I don’t want such an assault on the palate that I still taste the bitterness three or four hours after I’ve finished my last beer. So, I am going to take some of the heat of off you and taste test six different IPAs, each from a different brewery. I will describe my experience with each one and rank them first to last based one what I found most drinkable. At the end, you may find one or two you want to try yourself or at least have a better idea of what to look for. Here is a brief rundown on the contenders:

  • Harpoon IPA – Considered one of the early craft IPAs. A popular brew nationwide that has withstood the test of time.
  • Tropicalia – Brewed by Athens, GA brewery Creature Comforts; Beer Connoisseur rated it a 96 and it has become one of the most popular beers in Georgia.
  • Two Hearted Ale – By Bell’s Brewery, this beer also scored a 96 by Beer Connoisseur and is one of the most popular domestic IPAs.
  • Sweetwater IPA – Established in 1997, Atlanta based Sweetwater Brewing Co. produces this IPA and it is another one of the most popular IPAs in Georgia.
  • Hoplanta IPA – This IPA is produced by the oldest brewery in Georgia, Atlanta Brewing Co. (formerly Red Brick Brewing).
  • Go To IPA – Produced by California brewery Stone Brewing, which known for its hoppy beer styles.

Let’s get started with…

No. 6 – Stone Go To IPA, Stone Brewing, Escondido, CA

So why did Stone Go To IPA bring up the rear? First off, let me state that I handled all of the beer exactly the same from refrigerator to how each was poured and sampled. Right out of the can, the beer poured out a glass full of foam! I took a picture as proof.

Stone IPA - Foamed
Stone Foam IPA?

I have no idea what happened; maybe it was still something I overlooked or maybe I picked out the one bad can in a batch. Not a good start! It took me several minutes, but I eventually got the glass mostly full.

Go To IPA registers a 4.5% ABV and poured a cloudy, pale gold color with a white head. Head retention was, well, forever. Stone uses a slew of different hops – Mosaic, Citra, Ahtanum, Cascade, Crystal, El Dorado, Magnum, and Sterling hops. All of which results in 65 IBU. This provide a complexity of aromas, of which citrus and grass are primary. Flavors include Citrus, Pine, and Spices on a mildly sweet malt backbone. The finish was long, very dry and bitter, maybe even astringent. That bitterness lingered for quite a while.

Stone Go To IPA
Stone Brewing Go To IPA – Fully poured.

Because I was already aware of Stone Brewing’s reputation for highly hopped beers, I did try Go To IPA last and I am glad I did. The bitter taste was hard to get off the palate and would have potentially ruined the remainder of the taste test.

Naturally, I had to rank this one last. It was close to undrinkable. I will try this one again sometime, just to see if there was something unusual that sent this batch off the rails. For the time being, I have to conclude that I would not recommend Stone Go To IPA.

Would I buy it again? Yes – In case there was something wrong with the batch.

Would I recommend? No

Next up, No. 5…

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