IPA Blind Taste Test: Our Panel of Mountain Bikers Picks the Best Beers

ipa_taste_test - 1Editor’s Note: Singletracks does not encourage or condone underage alcohol consumption or excessive drinking. If you’re underage according to local law, choose to abstain, or just can’t stand when people geek out about beer, we ask that you choose another article to read–perhaps this one.

A few months back we asked nearly 2,000 mountain bikers what their favorite type of beer was, and the answer was a resounding three letters: I. P. A. Bitter, refreshing, and aromatic, IPAs are a great after-ride choice, but we had to know for ourselves: which IPA is best?

I personally selected 13 IPAs from a local supermarket, choosing a variety of IPA styles (English, American, white, session, nitro, etc.) and from a variety of breweries ranging from those with national distribution to smaller, more regional brewers. Of course there are literally thousands of IPAs being brewed in the USA right now, so this wouldn’t be a comprehensive look, but at least we could get an idea of which beer to order after our next ride.

At the beginning of the test I asked everyone to name their favorite IPA, and I got some great answers: Sweetwater IPA (an Atlanta local favorite), Sculpin IPA, Victory Dirtwolf, Creature Comforts Tropicalia (another Georgia brew), and Green Flash West Coast IPA. Unfortunately, not one of those beers was on our tasting list. Fail.

The test, however, was conducted in a blind fashion so that none of us would know which beer we were drinking. (Thanks to my buddy Wrightson for serving as our pourer!) In fact, no one knew the beer list except for me, which made guessing the brewery even more difficult. All five of our taste testers–Aaron, Chris, Eric, Paul, and myself–are mountain bikers because hey, mountain bikers have specific tastes. Each pour was approximately 4 ounces, and Wrightson served each beer roughly in order of ABV.

For each beer we wrote notes about the smell, color, and taste, and gave the beer a rating. Based on those ratings we rank ordered the beers for each taster, and added up the ranks to determine the best IPAs.

Without further delay, here’s how our panel of mountain bikers rated 13 IPAs, ordered from least favorite to most favorite. Go ahead and peek to see #1 if the suspense is killing you–you can always go back and read about the others. 🙂