Monday, 30 July 2018 15:16

IPAs for days

Written by  Joe Boomgaard
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Despite consumers’ shift in recent years to lighter beer styles, most drinkers continue to vote with their dollars for hoppy IPAs, which remain the growth engine for the craft beer industry.

In fact, industry research shows the IPA’s position as the king of craft beer appears safe for now.

Standard IPAs made up 20.3 percent of all craft beer sales last year and accounted for more than 40 percent of the industry’s sales growth measured in dollars, according to data from IRI Group presented by the Brewers Association at this year’s Craft Brewers Conference in Nashville.

As well, all hoppy styles combined drove more than three-quarters of the $26 billion craft beer industry’s sales growth in 2017.

With that in mind, Revue decided to gather a handful of new or newly distributed IPAs from Michigan-based craft breweries for a blind tasting. Perhaps indicative of the times, all of them were packaged in either 12- or 16-ounce cans.

The beers were rated based on appearance (10 points), aroma (20 points), flavor/finish (30 points), body (20 points) and overall impressions (20 points). The scores listed here are an average of the five tasters’ ratings.

Here’s what we found:

Highly Recommended

Angry Mayor
Lansing Brewing Co., Lansing
6.8% ABV

Pours a slightly hazy golden color, with decent head and lacing. Aroma leans toward juicy citrus fruits. Flavor is capped by balanced hop notes that are part juicy, part piney bitterness. Nice carbonation and body. Solid, drinkable IPA.
Score: 86

Obligatory
Transient Brewing Co., Bridgman
6.5% ABV

Definitely looks the part of a New England IPA, with a hazy orange juice-like appearance. A sniff of the glass explodes with fruity citrus, which carries over to the taste. The flavor also features a hint of malty sweetness before a slightly dry finish. Makes for a very pleasant drinking experience.
Score: 81.6

Whiled Away
Stormcloud Brewing Co., Frankfort
6.7% ABV

Pours clear, with good head retention and lacing. The aroma balances citrusy hops and some yeasty notes. The flavor reveals this beer’s Belgian inspiration, which features mild hop bitterness and an overall well-balanced character that doesn’t destroy the palate.
Score: 80.4

Recommended

Country Strong
Mitten Brewing Co., Grand Rapids
7.2% ABV

This beer would have ranked second overall in the tasting were it not for a low score from one taster, who had a visceral reaction to the hop profile. (In fact, two of the five tasters chose this as their top beer in the tasting.) It’s a clear, traditionally hop-forward IPA that features aggressive, resinous hops.
Score: 79.6

Aleister
Haymarket Brewery, Bridgman
6.5% ABV

Looks and tastes the part of a traditional old-school IPA, albeit with an über dry finish packed full of lingering notes of orange peel. Balanced, except for the dryness.
Score: 76.8

Lupulunatic
White Flame Brewing Co., Hudsonville
7.5% ABV

An IPA recipe that seemingly was stuck in a time machine from 10 years ago, complete with a coppery color, chewy hop bitterness, and a strong malt backbone.
Score: 71.4

Also Tasted

Zenyatta
ROAK Brewing Co., Royal Oak
4.7% ABV

Norm’s Simcoenicity
Griffin Claw Brewing Co., Birmingham
7.2% ABV

Michigander
Big Lake Brewing Co., Holland
4.2% ABV

Mo’Peez
White Flame Brewing Co., Hudsonville
5.8% ABV

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