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Face Off!

Posted April 24, 2015 @ 12:05pm | by Tom

I have been looking for a good way to get some tasting notes up on our blog. Then while watching the Wild hockey game I had an idea. I was going for a beer and I had two great options in the fridge, and that was it! A face off between the two beers was born. 

Now let me take it back a step. From our perspective as beer retailers we are tasked with giving recommendations and tasting notes every day to help people make informed choices. It doesn't particularly matter to us if you pick one beer or the other, just that you get a product of quality and a flavor profile you enjoy.

With that being said, it doesn't make sense to have a "winner" or "loser" here. Instead, I'll use this space to present two beers that provide some additional insight by means of the comparison. Comparing and contrasting the different beers to give you a better idea of what you'll want to choose based on your personal preferences.

For the first installment, I've chosen two IPA's that are significantly different. First up is Badger Hill's Traitor IPA. 

ABV - 7.0%

IBU - 70

Hops: Centennial, Cascade, Citra and Galaxy hops

I wanted to revisit Badger Hill's IPA for a couple reasons. First, they have recently re-released all there beers in great looking new cans. Second, they are now producing in their own new brewery in Shakopee, MN. Previously, Badger Hill had taken part in the Lucid Brewing "rotating propriership" which essentially meant they shared a facility with Lucid and then later Bad Weather. Also, Badger Hill had been doing surprisingly well at my last few MN Craft Brewer's Guild tastings with the Heavy Table, taking home hardware each time (here and here).

The Traitor IPA's official branding says the name has to do with using American pale malts and a British yeast strain, but I remember the story being that Badger Hill didn't want to brew an IPA when they started. They wanted to do their own thing and I can respect that. At the same time you need to respect what the people are looking for in their beers and this is definitely the age of the IPA. However it came about it is a good thing because I think this is still a unique and enjoyable brew.

It pours amber with a hint of red and clean white head. I get some nice hop aroma with notes of fruit, maybe some mango and berry. The dry-hopping is apparent and appreciated here. I was expecting this to be pretty sweet as some of the American IPA's can be but was pleasantly surprised with the dry clean finish, just a hint of sweetness makes this super quaffable and gives no hint of the 7% ABV. Flavor hops are well balanced with the pale malt through the mid-palate and little to no lingering bitterness in the finish. I'll definitely be returning to this IPA as a great local example of the American IPA.

On the other side I chose a national brand with a notable seasonal offering in Great Lake's Rye of the Tiger IPA.

ABV - 7.5%
IBU - 92
Hops - Columbus, Warrior, Simcoe
This beer is always a popular one at the shop and a good example of what rye can do in a beer. Great Lakes is a regional brewery out of Cleveland with a reputation for good quality beers as well as a commitment to enviromentally, socially and economically sustainable practices.
This pours slightly paler than the Traitor with a more subdued floral aroma. Half a finger of white foam in my tulip glass  (can or bottle, always taste beers in a glass!) gives way to a crisp biscuity malt with the rye on display. Everything in this beer brings me back to the bready, subtle spice of the rye. The hops are much more earth-y and floral with some undertones of grapefruit peel and a strong lingering bitterness. This bitterness intertwines and mingles with the rye adding to the complexity and finishing quite dry. It's worth noting that while the Traitor was drier than some other American IPA's, this is a truly dry IPA, more of the English style. Definitely bolder with the higher IBU's, this beer is a great option if you are looking for more of a punch of bitter hops with the unique rye character.
So there you go, two solid option for IPA's but quite a bit of difference depending on your personal preference. Whether you are looking for a drinkable big American hopped local option or the bold dry take on the English style you can't really go wrong with either of these beers.
I hope to do more comparison articles here in the future, let me know if you have any feedback or requests at tom (at) elevatedbws (dot) com
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