January 24, 2017 by Cody
Wow, what a break eh?! Not that there are hundreds of people clamoring to read my next entry, but I was hoping to get an actual .com domain purchased and set up all fancy like, but alas, Christmas and other life things have put the kibosh on such a concept for now. In the meantime though, I have a new “segment” called Blind Beer!, in which random people (i.e. friends, family, and other non-random individuals), take part in a blind taste test of 6 different beers of a specific style, some from Maine, some not.
This first entry is going to feature the lovely hop in all it’s mighty glory! Yes, the india pale ale is front and center in a test of hoppy will!
Our participants are Jonas and Alia. Jonas is an unabashed Danish hop head who literally drinks no other style of beer, and Alia drinks whatever she happens to fancy at any given time. Now let us meet the beer our contestants will be trying!
So Folkin’ Hoppy
Funky Bow Brewing (Lyman, ME)
An old stand by for me that is always available in virtually any super market, and always reliable. Definitely a go to IPA.
Mason’s Brewing Company (Brewer, ME)
Definitely the noob brew of the bunch, from a brewery that has opened only last year. Let’s see how it stands up!
Lord Hobo Brewing Company (Woburn, MA)
A fairly common out of state IPA in these here parts, but quite tasty in my humble opinion.
Baxter Brewing Company (Lewiston, ME)
Easily the most accessible and commercial of all the IPA’s on the docket for this taste test. Baxter is a flagship brewery here in Maine, and this is one of their more popular brews.
Banded Horn Brewing Company (Biddeford, ME)
A bit more of a complex tasting IPA, and one that I hope challenges the palates of our tasters.
Night Shift Brewing (Everett, MA)
This brew is a bit of a hot commodity from a brewery that is gaining a lot of local momentum, however, it’s a bit of a wild card in this bunch with it’s light, sessionable quality compared to its deeper flavored competition.
The tasting rules are simple. Alia and Jonas will sample tasters of each beer, and express their immediate feelings on the brew. In addition, they will give a score from 1-5, and also whether or not they think the given beer is from Maine!
First up, is So Folkin’ Hoppy.
Jonas was the first to express discontent with an exasperated “No!” He explained it was too piney, and from far, far away. Did I mention Jonas is a picky, picky beer drinker?
1.5 OUT OF 5
Alia was nonchalant with her opening salvo by offering lukewarm appreciation, but insisted she’d likely not order this if she went out. With that said though, she gave it a 3 OUT OF 5
Not going to lie, this reaction was a bit of a shocker to me. I find this beer to be very accessible and tasty. It is an American IPA, but with an ode to the classics. I think these guys are used to the bold and the juicy!
Let’s see how Mason’s American IPA stacks up!
Both Jonas and Alia had a similar reaction, by finding this one to be fairly middle of the road. Alia thought it was a bit more sessionable and light, and Jonas didn’t seem to care either way. Both ponied up a 3 OUT OF 5.
I can’t say I am surprised by this reaction. This brew doesn’t fall in line with it’s juicy brethren, in fact, it has more of a lemongrass tinge to it. I’ll admit, I was not a fan of this beer the first couple of times I tried it, but had a very positive experience in the last week. This be a bit of a Dr. Jekyll/Mr Hyde beer!
Next up was the big, bad Boom Sauce!
Jonas has finally awakened from his boredom, and exclaimed his pleasure for this sample! Despite stating with firmness he thought this was from Vermont, he wasted no time in finishing his sample, and rated this mother a 4.5 OUT OF 5.
Alia on the other hand, was less enthusiastic. In fact, the boredom that Jonas shook off, apparently climbed into Alia’s head. She thought it wasn’t all that bad, and offered up a tolerable 3 OUT OF 5.
This also didn’t surprise me from Jonas, as Boom Sauce is a stereotypical juicy American IPA with a ton of flavor. I expected a bit more of a positive reaction from Alia, but hey, you can’t please everyone all the time! So far, the Maine IPA’s are taking a beating from the out of state interlopers!
Stowaway IPA now takes center stage!….aaaaand in vaudeville fashion, quickly gets yanked off with a hook. The fire and the fury hath emerged from the bowels of Jonas and Alia! “A disgrace!” explains Jonas! “Skunkass!” yells out Alia! Both agree it had a horrible aftertaste, and was just an all around terrible IPA. 1 OUT OF 5
I don’t personally have the same level of distaste for this beer, but because this is a classic IPA, it doesn’t surprise me. Jonas hates European beer with a passion (the irony is thick, we know), and Alia doesn’t like harsh hoppiness. Stowaway is a middle of the road IPA with no qualms about being anything but a traditional IPA. People who routinely drink unfiltered Bissell can be taken a back by this one, particularly in a blind taste test.
Next up, is Veridian IPA!
Both Jonas and Alia thought this one was a super light, American IPA, and were not thrilled with it. This is also another strong, sprucey-bitter American IPA, and lacks a clear dankness. Both Alia and Jonas gave this a 2 OUT OF 5.
Wow, Maine beers are not getting the royal treatment here! This brings up so many questions! Do we need ardent IPA fans to really appreciate all that IPA’s have to offer, or should breweries make IPA’s more accessible to the non-hop inclined, and picky mother fuckers like Jonas?
Last, but not least, is the other out of state brew, and darkhorse, Whirpool.
Jonas’ hop senses are tingling with this sample! He reckoned it was really good and sessionable, and only second behind his fave, #3 (aka Boom Sauce). He rated this a 4.2 OUT OF 5. Alia was clearly suffering from hop fatique after the five previous beers, but thought this one was super fruity, but too light. Surprisingly, Alia only could muster up a 2.5 OUT OF 5.
All in all, this was a positive first foray into this project. IPA’s are clearly the most popular style in Maine right now, so it was interesting to see people’s reactions to these beers. I purposely tried to steer away from the super popular, in favor of more off the shelf brands. It’s easy to forget the sea of beers out there, and apparently among this batch, the Massholes have beaten Maine! I do want to do another IPA tasting with some new mouths very soon. Thanks to Alia and Jonas for being my guinea pigs, and a big thanks to Bier Cellar for always having a great selection of IPA’s to choose from.