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Tuesday, September 22, 2009

Your Fave IPAs

From yesterday's polling exercise, we learned three things:
  1. Tweeting news of a poll tends to pervert the outcome.
  2. The little guys are making big noise.
  3. There is no consensus on "best" IPA.
Let's begin with point #1. Yesterday at about 1pm, I tweeted news of this post. At that time, Pelican was out in front, trailed closely by Double Mountain, Ninkasi, and Terminal Gravity. Within an hour, Ninkasi had retweeted the link, urging followers to vote. Within another hour, Ninkasi had 40% of the vote. While this demonstrates impressive social media organizing skills, it doesn't resolve the question of which beer is most favored by Oregon beer geeks. Oakshire, which was already doing well, boosted its own numbers by retweeting as well.

More surprising was the broad support small breweries received. Let's assume Ninkasi would have finished strong even without the tweeting. The were joined by four other breweries all receiving 7% of the vote: Oakshire (27 votes), Double Mountain (27), Laurelwood (26), and Terminal Gravity (24). All of the these breweries beat the two bigs on the list, Full Sail (which received 23 votes) and Deschutes (18). Since these breweries sell tiny fractions of the volume of the big breweries (and are therefore not known to as many drinkers), their tallies are quite impressive. Pelican, it should be noted, slid to 5% with 20 votes, but keep in mind that this is a brewery producing fewer than 5,000 barrels.

Okay, last point: there is no favorite. This is very good news. These beers are not all brewed alike, and drinkers appreciate the differences. I wouldn't be surprised if many of you, like me, don't really feel comfortable trying to select a favorite. It depends on one's mood. Terminal Gravity, which I've called the king of Oregon IPAs, is a muscular, punk-rock beer. Pelican's is a subtle tour de force, like a John Coltrane set. Hop Lava is like a screaming wall of metal. You may love punk, but sometimes you're in the mood for jazz. The best IPAs have found a mood and they serve us in different situations.

Thanks to all who voted, and congrats to those who came out on top. I'll leave the poll open for a few more days, so keep voting if you wish.

Update. I forgot to include the "other" write-in votes. They are listed in comments. Also, I should have included Caldera IPA in the list--it's another fantastic beer. An oversight.


  1. For the record I voted for Ninkasi before their tweet (and I never even noticed it). That said, it was hard to choose and, like you said, for that I am grateful. That I can find an amazing number of exceptional but different takes on my favorite style is one of the true perks of living in Oregon.

    One aspect I don't like about the current trend among brewers is to always go 'bigger' when coming out with new or special IPAs. Bridgeport's IPA is not terribly big yet wonderful. I would like to see more takes on the classic without resorting to amping up the alcohol and hops to 11.

  2. Oh, by the way, here are the "other" write-ins.

    Broken Halo
    bridgeport ipa
    Oregon Trail IPA
    Block 15 Alpha IPA
    Blu Dot
    Bend Brewing Elk Lake IPA
    Ninkasi Tricerahops
    Any McMenamins IPA
    Caldera IPA
    Ninkasi Tricerahops
    Anderson Valley Imperial IPA
    lucky lab super dog
    rock bottom sunny day
    Ninkasi Tricerahops
    Stone IPA
    Bridgeport India Pale Ale
    Amnesia Desolation IPA
    Calapooia rIPArian
    Laurelwood Prevale
    Ninkasi Tricerahops Double IPA
    Oregon Trail Hopgasm
    Ninkasi Tricerihops
    Bridgeport IPA
    Broken Halo
    Hair of the Dog Blue Dot IPA
    Riparian (Calapooia)

  3. Sounds like Oakshire Watershed is worth trying. But where? Their site lists a few places that might have it on tap (current as of 8/1), and taplister is no help. Guess I'll have to keep my eye out on my next trip to Belmont Station.

  4. @Steve:

    We have bottles of their IPA and Espresso Stout, and I'd assume that most of the specialty stores and upscale grocery stores have them as well.


  5. @Chris
    Awesome! Just checked your site and saw that indeed, you've had it since August. Time to make a trip out there...

  6. It's truly difficult to pick the best IPA out of any list like that - I'd drink any of them at the drop of a hat :)

  7. Union Dew and Schrodinger's Beer are nice, cask-conditioned, at Brewers Union Local 180. ABV's less than 6%.

  8. Beaumont Market carries Watershed in the bomber as well.