The winner of the Great American Challenge is none other than Nashville's own Blackstone Adam Bomb. Picked by both Michael and Charles as the dark horse of the challenge, the Adam Bomb stunned the judges by beating Bells, Founders Centennial, Victory Hop Devil, and finally New Belgium Ranger in the final round. Second and third place were very close, with Michael picking New Belgium and Charles picking Stone--the third judge picked New Belgium.
Other surprises in the contest were how well Victory, Maui, and New Belgium did--the best from the West. Lagunitas also was very close with Stone. Shockingly low were Dogfish Head and Bells. All head-to-heads were settled by the two judges (almost unanimously) with the exception of the Victory/Sweetwater round--which was extremely close--going to a third judge (who picked Victory) and the West coast final, which also went to a third judge. All testing was done blindly, and each bottle was placed behind the tasting cups and photographed as backup evidence.
Tasting all of these IPAs at the same time taught the judges a few things about taste:
1. Name recognition and reputation have some effect on your perception.
2. Blind tasting is the best way to judge beer.
3. Color, clarity, and smell have an impact on the final results, although of the three the bouquet seemed least important. (There were some losing entries that smelled wonderful, but the taste did not match the hop aroma.)
4. Our "favorite" beers didn't fare as well as we thought they would. Charles's favorite is Caldera, and Michael likes both Stone and Bridgeport. (Although Stone did come in third.)
5. What you think you like and what you like aren't always the same thing.
Here is the list of how the beers finished in order:
1. Blackstone - Adam Bomb
2. New Belgium - Ranger
3. Stone - IPA
4. Victory - Hop Devil
5. Sweetwater - IPA
6.Maui - Big Swell
7. Bear Republic - Racer 5
8. Founders - Centennial
9. Caldera - IPA
10. Lagunitas - IPA
11. Terrapin - Hopsecutioner
12. Sierra Nevada - Torpedo
13. Bells - Two Hearted Ale
14. Bridgeport - IPA
15. Goose Island - IPA
16. Dogfish Head - 60 Minute
In June we at A.Y.E. will take the Great American IPA Challenge! What is it? We pit 8 of the best from the West Coast against 8 of the best from the East Coast. In the end the last beer standing will be the American IPA champ. We will also pick a silver and a bronze winner. Make no mistake, these beers are all winners. Each beer will go head-to-head tournament style until we get the best from the West vs. the best from the East to determine the top IPA in the USA. Check below for the rules of the challenge and to see the lineup.
Rules of the challenge--
A: There are limited spots for this-- 8 from the East, 8 from the West. All beers have scored in the A- to A+ range on RateBeer, so the rest is subjective.
3. Q: Do you think this challenge will definitively prove what the best IPA in America is?
A: Maybe, maybe not, but it's going to be fun finding out! We hope to prove something to our taste buds, though.
We encourage you to do the same type of challenge and let us know the results. And remember: All the beers in the challenge are awesome ! ! !