We blind tasted the beers in the following order:
Beer 1: People's Mound Builder
Beer 2: Cutters Half Court
Beer 3: Daredevil Lift Off
Beer 4: Mad Anthony IPA
Beer 5: Flat12 Half Cycle
Beer 6: Barley Island Barfly
Beer 7: Upland Dragonfly
Beer 8: Triton Railsplitter
Beer 9: Sun King Fistful of Hops (Blue Can Version)
Beer 10: Figure 8 Where Lizards Dare
Beer 11: Quaff ON! Hare Trigger
Beer 12: Fountain Square Soul Ride
So what was the verdict?
Out of the 12, two beers stood out for us. Six of us picked *Beer 4: Mad Anthony IPA* as our favorite, and two picked *Beer 1: People's Mound Builder*.
What did we like about these two beers? The common theme was balance; neither beer was skewed toward the hops end or the malt end of the spectrum. Rather, both landed pleasantly in the middle.
Our tasting notes (admittedly brief; this is what happens when you taste 12 beers) provide insight into our thinking--
Mad Anthony IPA:
Jim: "A great meld of pine, floral, and citrus. Perfectly malty--not too sweet. Well balanced all around. A winner."
Mike: "Fruity and rounded."
Megan: "Solid. Balanced."
People's Mound Builder:
Jim: "Floral. Bubble gum. Nose is nice. Malty. Faintly sweet. Balanced. Pretty damn good."
Rod: "Smells caramelly, sweet, grapefruit."
Jason: "Sweet nose, sweet taste, some pine."
I enjoy hoppy beers, but they need to have a partner. Without a malt backup, the beer is...well, uninteresting. One beer that had a nice balance was People's Mound Builder. It had sweetness. It had a malt base. And it had plenty of hops without being an all-out bitter assault on the tongue. Mad Anthony IPA was another beer that seemed particularly well balanced.
I think these beers are a bit more connected to the true style of an IPA versus the Americanized version. And while I may have gone for the others a couple of years ago, my preferences have changed and I want something more from my beer. With that in mind, I offer up this elegy in the style of Walt Whitman.
O Brewer! My Brewer! This bottle of beer is done,
The IPA is now a wreck, one dimension is no fun,
No malt is near, just hops in beer, no depth the brew is sharing.
While weary buds are feeling mugged, the bitter bombs uncaring;
But O beer! beer! beer! Once a spicy glass of bread,
Where on the tongue the style lies, fallen old and dead.
A special thanks goes out to Ben and the rest of the folks at the Tomlinson Tap Room for hosting us. Ben was instrumental in helping us acquire the beer for the tasting.