Top of the Hops, an IPA bracket challenge

Discussion in 'Beer Talk' started by CASK1, Apr 8, 2013.

  1. PalatePilot

    PalatePilot Savant (460) Colorado Dec 24, 2010

    Love that Odell IPA was in the final four, I bet if they had larger distribution it would of won it.

    Good bracket though.
    buffs9 likes this.
  2. I just can't take Racer 5 over Blind Pig seriously. I know I know different palettes and all that but way before I ever had Blind Pig I thought Racer 5 was a middle of the road IPA. Only plus was it was available in 12 packs before lots of craft breweries made that a choice. But I've had both plenty of times now and it's not even close. Really surprised Union Jack won or should I say, "won"? Polls are always twisted
    beerindaglass and SammyJaxxxx like this.
  3. runfoodrun

    runfoodrun Savant (325) Minnesota Jun 18, 2008

    Good point on availability. I do love Golden Nugget and finally got to try Sue this weekend. I thought it was quite nice, not zombie dust good, but if locally available would become a staple, as would zombie dust!
  4. npurdy

    npurdy Aficionado (150) Georgia Feb 18, 2006

    This is Nick from Paste - the contest was my idea so I thought I'd offer some background: There's no doubt we didn't get every possible entrant into the field. We did try to include beers that were available outside their hometowns and generally were well thought of as we weren't rating the beers. Kind of a "these are all at least pretty good" approach. We researched and gathered beer, working directly with the breweries, for two months - I'd wager the 64 beers sitting on our office floor were as comprehensive a representation of the style in the United States as you'd ever find outside a major GABF-style competition. I'm sure beers like Flower Power deserved to be in there, but that's what makes it like a March Madness style tournament - some fans will be disappointed. We did what we could to not over-represent the South, which is still in catch-up mode, while keeping the regions contiguous. To confirm: All rounds were blind. People have referred to this as a "poll" which isn't accurate. It was 63 distinct one-on-one blind matchups. It's interesting that we learned a lot about many of the beers as they progressed - an example is how bright the mango/orange/pineapple notes are on Union Jack. We thought Jai Alai had this flavor note in spades over all the other beers but once it went one-on-one with Union Jack, we found that Firestone was even brighter (in addition to the hop character) than we had realized (though not quite as bright on the sweeter side of citrus as Jai Alai). Surly Furious, an early favorite to go all the way, ended up losing out as its unique approach (darker, spicier) began to seem like an outlier in some ways. How well-distributed a beer was had zero impact on how well it did in the tournament. Many beers that our tasters had never enjoyed made deep or all the way through the tournament. A not-complete list of beers in the tourney not available in Georgia: Firestone, Alesmith, Ballast Pt, Surly, Lakefront, Short's, Ninkasi, Fort Collins, Good People, Real Ale, Straight To Ale, Bear Republic, Deschutes. Our hope was to draw a lot of attention, as a non-beer publication, from a mostly new audience, to what great American brewers are doing in that most American of styles (its British roots notwithstanding). Cheers. Questions? Fire away.
  5. SammyJaxxxx

    SammyJaxxxx Champion (885) New Jersey Feb 23, 2012 Verified

    Flower Power is one of the top three East Coast IPAs. It is like the NCAA leaving the Big East Champion out of the tournament.

    But otherwise I enjoyed the Bracket and I enjoy your magazine.
    ESeab likes this.
  6. beerindaglass

    beerindaglass Savant (345) Florida Feb 20, 2013

    It's my favorite beer and I wouldn't buy it 4 months old. Wouldn't do it justice. I just traded some and had my partners wait for a new shipment (they were glad too..). I sent out 3/27/13 last week. It's still good after 2 months. But nothing like 2-3 weeks. Try it again ISO:FRESH Jai Alai.
  7. Sludgeman

    Sludgeman Champion (770) District of Columbia Aug 17, 2012 Verified

    Now reseed it, keeping the top four in different regions and do it again. Tell us how it turns out. Each beer has its comparative advantages over another. Its all about the matchups. Just like the real tournament.
    beerindaglass likes this.
  8. No Head Hunter? Shucks.

    This is just like college basketball (where my favorite team never makes the tournament :().
    SammyJaxxxx likes this.
  9. DHS1029

    DHS1029 Savant (365) Illinois Feb 14, 2013 Verified

    I thought it was a pretty good article. Wish Jai Alai would have won and it would have been nice to see the Chicago market represented in the tourney. Half Acre Daisy Cutter should have made it on there
    SammyJaxxxx likes this.
  10. npurdy

    npurdy Aficionado (150) Georgia Feb 18, 2006

    Yeah, we didn't seed the tourney - we could have used outside ratings like a mashup of RB, Untappd and BA, but decided to randomly sort the first round and let it be just our reactions to the beers. We did manually separate a couple of the matchups that would have just been absurd for the first round, but that's it. If/when we do it again, we'll seed it using results from this tourney plus reader nominations. Personally, I'd vote to keep all beers that scored at least 3 points in the first round (that would be all 32 winners plus Victory, Sixpoint, Blue Point, Abita, Terrapin, Highland, Rogue, Alaskan, Ninkasi, Maui - taking it to 42 automatic entries, leaving 22 at-large bids for reader nominees). Then we'll seed it somehow.
  11. Sculpin and GF WCIPA got snubbed. They would have dominated the east coast brackets.
    patkorn likes this.
  12. Sludgeman

    Sludgeman Champion (770) District of Columbia Aug 17, 2012 Verified

    Remember when the NCAA Tournament was only 32 teams? If you didn't win your league tournament you were screwed. Its maddening!

    What I'm trying to figure out is how I can obtain all 64 beers (all in relatively fresh condition) and conduct my own personal tourney at home.
  13. I've never had union jack....Is it really that good??????
  14. npurdy

    npurdy Aficionado (150) Georgia Feb 18, 2006

    It's not unlikely. But to serve our readers, we were (and are) interested in each distinct region and how the beers in that region stack up against each other. This is because that's the world we as beer drinkers live in - we can't get everything all the time. So knowing "the Southeast's best IPA" is a relevant piece of information for beer drinkers in that area. Same for the other regions. If we'd have mashed up the regions, I'm not sure the tournament would have been as interesting. We could have probably slotted half the Elite 8 from the whole country except San Diego and the other half of the Elite 8 FROM San Diego and been fine, but that wouldn't have been all that fun or informative. Also, when we do our Sweet Tea bracket, California's in trouble!
    Ivegotmule likes this.
  15. Big_V

    Big_V Advocate (525) Maryland Nov 30, 2012 Verified

    Right. Alesmith losing that early. Haven't had 21st Amendment either, but FOH!
  16. dar482

    dar482 Champion (760) New York Mar 9, 2007 Verified

    It's not my favorite, but it's darn well crafted. A go to IPA in my mind.

  17. Good call on Flower power. Probably would have been a better choice than probably 2/3s of that Northeast list in my opinion.

    Also reading this makes me realize how many IPA's I haven't tried yet. Avery is one of my favorites and it got beat out pretty quick. I realize this is just someone else's opinion, but I've never had Deschute's IPA (and several other's on this list) so this is all I really have to go on.
  18. cavedave

    cavedave Poobah (1,060) New York Mar 12, 2009 Verified

    Any contest for best hoppy beer without any Alpine is a joke.
    patkorn likes this.
  19. Short answer: YES!

    Longer answer: Make sure you buy it fresh. Like most IPAs it will start to 'fall off' relatively quickly.

    dar482 likes this.
  20. Thanks Nick! I really enjoyed the contest and the magazine. I was surprised that Sculpin was knocked out so fast. I hope this fall to see a year round stout/porter challenge! Go Lancaster Brewing Milk Stout!
  21. primrose54

    primrose54 Savant (360) Ohio Apr 7, 2009

    What about headhunter? It's won a ton of awards and it didnt even make the list!
  22. AJ01923

    AJ01923 Advocate (605) Massachusetts Jan 1, 2013 Verified

    Agreed, hey here's a creative idea that there's not already 1000's existing. Bracket challenge for beers that sound like a medical condition. Ready - GO!
    otispdriftwood likes this.
  23. MisSigsFan

    MisSigsFan Advocate (630) California Mar 2, 2013 Verified

    Man, Stone beats Sierra Nevada any day.
    Revenant likes this.
  24. gshak

    gshak Advocate (530) Texas Feb 20, 2011

    I've had it a few times, but I tend to like their pale ale and their iipa better. UJ straddles the middle line of the two, and somehow doesn't quite work as well for me, although I must say that the bottles were probably 3 months or older by the time I got them. Fresher bottles might have more magic in them...
  25. “ …the bottles were probably 3 months or older by the time I got them.” Yeah, those were too old. When I purchase Union Jack my ‘magic number’ is one month old or less.

  26. No surprise to me that CC Jai Alai made it to the finals as it is my favorite regular IPA out there. No doubt it is impossible to include all deserving IPA's into the bracket and there were probably some glaring omissions.

    For my tastes I would have rather seen NEBCO's Sea Hag included, but oh well, interesting read anyhow.
  27. Revenant

    Revenant Savant (350) Minnesota Aug 8, 2012

    Surly made it very far for a beer that is only sold in Mn. If it was more widely available it would wipe the floor with Odell.
  28. estlinska

    estlinska Savant (270) Arkansas Sep 30, 2010

    I was surprised too, but it is pretty subjective. I remember drinking a Snake Handler at the first Magic City Brewfest and I was truly impressed. They have a great thing going at Good People.
  29. patkorn

    patkorn Savant (270) California Aug 30, 2007

    This is great!!! Now we all know what kind of IPA's beergeeks and musicians in the great city of Atlanta think are the best in the rest of the country. Hazzah!!!(insert eye roll).
  30. GoGators

    GoGators Advocate (715) New Jersey Aug 5, 2010 Verified

    I did not see it mentioned in the article, but were all of these IPA's of relatively the same freshness? Seems that could be the deciding factor when comparing a fresh IPA with a 3- 6 month old one.
    SammyJaxxxx likes this.
  31. buffs9

    buffs9 Savant (495) Colorado Apr 28, 2008 Verified

    Crazy talk. Odell is tasty and I prefer it to Furious, though I also prefer it to Union Jack. Good to see Odell represent.
  32. Revenant

    Revenant Savant (350) Minnesota Aug 8, 2012

    Of course you do.
  33. buffs9

    buffs9 Savant (495) Colorado Apr 28, 2008 Verified

    Touche. homer to homer.
  34. Danny1217

    Danny1217 Advocate (695) Florida Jul 15, 2011 Verified

    I like Jai Alai better than Union Jack.

    For people discussing Jai Alai freshness, in my experience bitterness falls off fairly quickly, but even the oldest ones i have had had an amazing hop aroma and flavor. That being said, 2 and a half months is the oldest I've had it
  35. I never had the chance to try Shorts but I was very happy to see it made the list, I wish Revolution's Anti Hero would of made the list but shit happens. I also agree it is nice to see beers I have actually tried make it to the finals, but I have to give it to Bell's two hearted if not Cigar City's Jai Alai. Every time I go to Florida my first order of business is to buy enough Jai Alai for the trip.