Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Beer: IPA Roundup

Over the weekend I noticed that I had 3 different IPAs in my fridge and decided to do a side-by-side taste test to see how they compared. The contestants were Bell's Two Hearted Ale, Founders Centennial IPA and Mad Anthony IPA. All three are regulars in my fridge -- Two Hearted practically has a permanent residence in there -- though its rare for two to be in there at the same time, let alone three. I also had a bottle of Warbird Warhawk Pale Ale that I threw in for the hell of it even though it's not an IPA.

Here are the notes, verbatim, that I scribbled while my wife and I were tasting:

Founders Centennial IPA

very strong hops
very bitter back-end
little citrus (maybe lemony, if really looking)

Mad Anthony IPA

huge citrus/grapefruit up front
bitter back-end, but not unpleasant
less carbonated
strong hops, but not as strong as Cent.
less balanced
grapefruit ***

Bell's Two Hearted Ale

just the right amount of bitter
pleasant citrus
light, refreshing hops
orange (light)
more carbonated

Warbird Warhawk Pale Ale

bready malt
lightly balanced with good amount of hops
VERY drinkable

Being an IPA roundup, ranking the beers in terms of hoppiness seems appropriate:

1. Centennial IPA
2. Mad Anthony IPA
3. Warhawk Pale
4. Two Hearted

The fourth-place finish for Two Hearted was surprising to us. Centennial and Mad Anthony are much hoppier than the other two, but Warhawk, though classified as a pale ale, was actually hoppier than the Two Hearted Ale. Two Hearted Ale is easily the most balanced of the four, which is part of the reason why it has such a special place in hop-head-hearts. My two favorite characteristics of the four beers were the grapefruit of the Mad Anthony -- which makes the beer incredibly refreshing -- and the bready malt character of the Warhawk. The Warhawk is seeing its first action in my fridge and it certainly won't be the last. It's got a very distinct character and a drinkability that I can only describe as dangerous.

UPDATE (11/1): I completely forgot that I took a picture to go with this post. Here it is, belatedly:


Matt said...

I need to try some offerings from Warhawk.

Two Hearted is one of my all time favorites for how easy drinking, well balanced, and very satisfying it is. It getting a little ridiculous with some IPA's that put as much hops in as possible with little to no thoughts on a well balanced beer.

CorrND said...

I was driving myself crazy writing this post because the names are so similar, but the brewery is WarBIRD and the beer is WarHAWK. I appreciate what they're trying to do the with their product branding but it's so confusing that it undermines the effort a little.

If you're a big geek like me, this may help: I made sense of it by saying that their beers are birds and a hawk is a type of bird.

I've had the Warhawk three times now and it was quite different to my mouth each time. It tasted very smooth the first time and, as I posted on HBG, I drank it so fast it was as though there was a hole in the bottom of my glass. The second time was the IPA tasting where it held its own with the hoppier beers. The third time was on Sunday and it tasted a little bland for some reason. Quite a chameleon.

I'll have to grab some more at some point to try to figure out the taste.

Mike said...

If I remember correctly, Dave at Warbird actually targeted Two Hearted when he made his Warhawk Pale - he was trying to outdo them and I think he succeeded. All of Warbird's beer are dangerously drinkable.

CorrND said...

Thanks for stopping by Mike! I'll have to start working my way around Warbird's other offerings. Speaking of which, I still need to get over to the Rathskeller to try out Warbird's "Rathskeller Red".