Are you up for a drinking challenge? Do you feel that you know your Oregon brewed IPAs? If so, when the calendar turns over to January 1, 2017, the January IPA Blind Tasting Challenge returns to Hawthorne Hophouse and 15th Avenue Hophouse. Taking place the entire month of January, the IPA Blind Tasting Challenge brings together 12 of Oregon’s IPAs all on one 12 beer taster tray for only $12.00.
The goal of the IPA Blind Tasting Challenge is to correctly guess all 12 Oregon brewed IPAs. Each tray is unmarked and the only things that you will know are the 12 participating breweries of 2017. Only four breweries will return from 2016 that includes pFriem Family Brewers, Boneyard Beer (2013 & 2104 Champion), Barley Brown’s (2015 Champion) and the defending champion Breakside Brewery. The top beer gets put on tap at both Hophouse locations for the entirety of 2017.
In creating the January 2017 IPA Blind Tasting Challenge brewery list, organizers took a lot of factors into account when compiling the list. They only brought back the four pervious mentioned breweries and are bringing in eight new ones. In making their decisions they asked patrons and their staff to offer up suggestions. Hophouse also wanted to choose breweries that will be able to provide around 250 kegs of the winning IPA for the remainder of the year. This requirement excluded a few local breweries including the trendy Great Notion Brewing that does not have the current capacity until the brewery opens up its new production facility in Northwest Portland tentatively planned for 2017.
Here’s a listing of all 12 Oregon brewed IPAs that will be pouring at both Hawthorne Hophouse and 15th Avenue Hophouse with notes on each beer provided by the organizers.
Coalition Space Fruit (50 IBU, 7.0% ABV)
Staff pick, delicious. Kegs blow super quick in the pub. Not in line-up last year.
pFriem IPA (65 IBU, 7.2% ABV)
Customer and staff pick. So … this beer was a non-winner in the line-up last year, but we’ve been bombarded with requests to give them another try this year. Portlanders love pFriem.
Ecliptic Orbiter (75 IBU, 7.4% ABV)
Staff pick. Excellent beer and brewery. Brewer John Harris was early supporter at Hawthorne when we opened six years ago. Nice solid IPA.
Culmination Phaedrus (60 IBU, 6.5% ABV)
Customer and staff pick, newer beer and brewery, local, not in line-up last year.
Deschutes Fresh-Squeezed (60 IBU, 6.4% ABV)
Customer write-in pick. We have ordered almost no beer from Deschutes in the past six years, largely because of scale and market share. Staff agrees this is a great beer. Plus so many people have tried this beer, and requested it be included, that it should be easy to pick out, right? Ha. We’ll see about that.
Rogue Ales Seven Hop (76 IBU, 7.7% ABV)
Ditto Deschutes circumstance. We’ve hardly had any Rogue beer on, ever, and this seemed like a good time to start. Plus we support what this beer is about – secret blend of seven hops grown on the farm in Independence.
Golden Valley Bald Peak IPA (80 IBU, 7.2% ABV)
Staff pick. Golden Valley in McMinnville has recently been brewing some great beer. This beer won a bronze medal at the Oregon Beer Awards. Not a widely distributed beer, but the brewery itself has been around a while.
Sunriver’s Vicious Mosquito (64 IBU, 7.0% ABV)
Staff pick. Formerly the ugly stepchild in Central Oregon is now brewing really good beer. Check out their new taproom in Bend.
Hop Valley Citrus Mistress (80 IBU, 6.5% ABV)
Customer write-in pick. Got many late requests for this – “how come Hop Valley isn’t on there?” We included Alphadelic a couple of year’s back, and that did well, but we expect this one to do better.
Boneyard RPM (75 IBU, 7.5% ABV)
Winner in 2013 and 2014 (although one year Vortex won by a slight margin at 15th, but that margin was overwhelmed by the Hawthorne tally), this beer was a game changer in the IPA world.
Barley Brown’s Pallet Jack (70 IBU, 7.0% ABV)
Winner in 2015, our customers threatened to boycott us when we took it off tap, but they got used to Breakside pretty fast. Still, this might take back the title this year.
Breakside IPA (70 IBU, 6.8% ABV)
Winner in 2016, top beer by a huge margin is their flagship IPA.
So how does the IPA Blind Tasting Challenge work? To make it easier there are two flights of six beers each and each flight contains its own ballot (brewery list). Match six beers at a time and then do this again for the second flight of six. Then turn in your ballot with your contact info to get notified of any winnings.
When it comes to grading the ballots none of the Hophouse employees know the correct answers. In order to guarantee the integrity of the contest Hophouse will be grading ballots off-site in four batches. After each week, Hophouse will email you your score of total beers correct on the following Tuesday. However, they will not disclose which of the 12 beers you may have gotten correct. In other words, you’ll get notified that you got 6 beers right, but not which 6.
When your results are emailed back to you, there will be a pass that will allow you to retake the test again at a discounted rate of $10.00. You can take the Challenge as many times as you like. Get 8 or more correct; win a prize, including gift cards, Hophouse gear, growlers and fills. Get 10 or more correct and you win a Lifetime Mug Club Membership card along with bragging rights!
Hophouse will reveal the champion in early February when all of the ballots from both locations are properly counted. Best of luck!
Hawthorne Hophouse 4111 SE Hawthorne Blvd. Portland, OR 97214
15th Avenue Hophouse 1517 Northeast Brazee St. Portland, OR | 97212 US
D.J. is a Portland, Oregon based writer that spent his formative years in the Midwest. With over 25 years under his belt of drinking beer at festivals across America and the world, he has developed a strong appreciation and understanding of craft beer and the industry that surrounds it. He can be found in any of the great breweries or beer bars that make Portland the best beer city in the world. His writing can also be found in the archives of Northwest Brewing News and can be followed on Twitter and Instagram at @hopapalooza.