Have a hoppy 4th of July? We sure did at the ABQBeerGeek compound, where the third annual 4th of JulIPA Challenge took place. Nine IPAs competed IPAs this time around. Last year we did thirteen beers, but felt that was a bit too many to judge, as people were missing their mouths by the thirteenth beers. Here's how it worked: it was a blind tasting of the all the beers by a panel of near twenty drinkers with good taste in beer. Beers were judged on a scale from 1-5 overall. I didn't bother with different judging for color, smell, or mouthfeel. That's just too much for me to calculate when all is said and done. Besides, IPAs range in color from straw to caramel to black, so it turns into a what's your favorite color contest. And mouthfeel? That sounds dirty.
While watching everyone enjoy the beers, I noticed nobody enjoying the burgers I bought for the event. That's because I picked the cheapest, gnarliest burgers to grill (Flanders brand) and it turns out one of the main ingredients is beef hearts. Not to mention the color of the meat ranged from straw to caramel to black. And don't even ask me about the mouthfeel.
Let's get to the results. I can't take the thought of another hearty meal. I do have to say in advance that last year's number 4, Turtle Mountain IPA, is not represented this year. Sorry. My one friend who lives near there could not make it this year, and I was too busy pouring beer from bottles into growlers to drive over there. You try filling 18 growlers and cooking up Flander heart and driving to Rio Rancho.
9. Abita Jockamo IPA: 2.2
I judged this way higher than the other drinkers. I know it isn't a coveted IPA but I liked it.
8. Sierra Nevada Torpedo IPA: 2.9
This is a popular IPA but I think it varies in batches from good to just bitter tasting.
7. New Belgium Ranger IPA: 3.2
Not too surprised at this ranking. People like or hate Ranger.
6. Il Vicino Wet Mountain IPA: 3.3
Well, that's too bad. Local Il Vicino
doesn't fare that well this year. I gave it a 4.1. It smells great, tastes great, but people felt the finish died off too quickly.
5. Ska Modus Hoperandi: 3.6
Modus is very popular in town right now, but I feel it could be just a little less malty.
4. Chama River Jackalope IPA: 3.7
Wow, last year's winner
goes down. And I wasn't the biggest fan initially because it needed time to warm and open up, but was excellent when it did. Some may not have waited long enough to rate it.
3. Moylan's IPA: 3.8
Two people gave this a 4.75, which I thought was too high. It had the best finish of all the beers.
2. Odell IPA: 3.9
Odell was my inaugural IPA Challenge winner. This may have been the consensus favorite smelling beer, though I don't know how you could judge that when the smell of grilled beef hearts are competing with hop smell.
1. Marble IPA: 4.3
Albuquerque favorite comes through with the big win! Every year, one IPA stands out to me in our challenge, and this one made me look in the mirror and say, "ARRRGGGHHH! I HATE MYSELF!"
Wait, that is a different issue I have. This was the one that rose above the rest and deserved my 4.8 rating. Great smell that didn’t disappoint in the mouthfeel or finish. The local success story gets another notch in its belt. Congratulations to the hard working crew over at Marble Brewery