Thursday, October 22, 2009

Beer Club, Volume Two - India Pale Ales

So when I first envisioned creating Beer Club, the first goal I had was simply to find some people who would discuss all the good beers I was suddenly drinking. Since IPA's/Double IPA's are my favorite style of beer it was natural that I'd be drinking a lot of them (25 of the 95 beers that I've rated so far). Oktoberfest was too natural of a fit for the first Beer Club meeting since so many of them were coming out right before the first meeting.

The next meeting wasn't so natural to anybody but me and the more I thought about it the more I thought I might have made a mistake by picking IPA's so quickly in our lineup. Sure I had open minded people but still there were plenty who just weren't big fans of IPA's. Maybe I was just talking myself into it as well but I kept telling them that they just haven't had the right ones and that the concept they had in their minds of IPA's (bitter beers) wasn't completely accurate and I'd prove to them that they did like (the right) India Pale Ale's after all. (A little background if you're not completely familiar with the style, click here - India Pale Ale)

Another big part of the reason that I chose IPA's is because I figured I had some pretty good knowledge about them and could pick out a pretty good lineup. So while I wasn't going to learn much about the beer I knew that I could be a more effective leader/president/founder of BC/HMFIC and everybody else would be better off because of it. No use in the blind leading the blind this soon in the life cycle of the group.

After searching my brain's database and emailing Alvey at the Four Firkins, these are the ones that I came up with for tasting:

Founders Centennial IPA
Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA
Sierra Nevada Torpedo Extra IPA
Founders Harvest Ale
Stone India Pale Ale (IPA)

Two Hearted Ale
Surly Furious

I knew that the night would wrap up with Furious because I've been spreading that gospel for awhile now and Bell's Two Hearted and Stone's IPA have been two of my favorites ever since I've tried them. I wanted to throw Dogfish Head in the group even though it wasn't one of my favorites just because I knew it was a popular beer from a popular innovative brewery.

The Centennial and the Torpedo were on Alvey's advice and the Harvest Ale was a last minute addition by me. I didn't really want two from Founders but they were different enough from each other and I just fell in love with the Harvest Ale when I had my first one.

So, the group was a bit mixed up from last month's with Paul U, Kris, Mike and Pat returning and Phil and Brent joining as guest stars. All of the tastings went pretty well and people started to realize (much to my relief) that I was correct in that they did like IPA's, just didn't know which ones.

The star of the night was unquestionably the Founders Harvest Ale. I felt bad for the Stone IPA because it followed the Harvest and I couldn't believe how little support the Stone got until I started tasting it myself. Harvest was a TOUGH act to follow. Bell's definitely was well liked and the Furious performed like I thought it would (very well).

In retrospect I'm going to have to go back and re-rate some of these on Rate Beer because some of them lost a little bit when compared side by side to others and others gained a bit. I'm going to stay on record that Two Hearted and Stone's IPA are two of my favorite India Pale Ales, Founders Harvest Ale is officially my second favorite and Furious just cannot be stopped no matter what I put up against it. It is the godfather of all beers.

In hindsight, I may have still made a mistake by picking IPA's so early for the club even though they went over much better than anybody expected them to but at least everybody can get right to ordering one in the bar or picking some up from the store. In fact, I picked up some Harvest for Paul and for Kris when I made my run for more the next day.

I'm very pleased at how well the meetings have gone so far. People have been open minded and talkative and very receptive of everything way beyond my wildest dreams. Who knows? Maybe this thing has some legs and will be a fixture for a long time. I certainly hope so.

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