For many years the traditional boys hang out was sitting around watching the game, sharing a few beers and discussing which movie had the best quotes. With the ever evolving craft beer market we have crept out of the primordial ooze of tradition and ventured on to test our palettes. This past Saturday my wife and I were invited to a blind IPA taste test. A sidebar here, I was never the biggest fan of IPA's and hops when first exploring craft beer but like all things my palette soon took to liking the slap to the face flavor these beers can pack.
With 8 attendees, 6 guys and 2 ladies, we were poured 27 different IPA's from around the country. Every participant brought at least 2 unique IPA's. A score sheet was created to rate Appearance of the beer, Aroma that the beer gave off, Flavor the beer presented and Taste of the beer and if you would purchase again. There were side bets as well to guess the actual beer you were drinking and how many IBU's (International Bitterness Units) each one had. We arrived a tad late and missed the first 5 but still had 22 beers of about 3 oz each to sample, not too shabby.
I can't tell you how much more fun I've had by simply enjoying a beer with friends and trying to guess exactly what I am drinking. Several good points came up throughout about not seeing a beer label and having a preconceived notion of what may be inside. Such a case was the surprise of the evening when everyone's overall scores were averaged and 2 Oklahoma craft beers beat out Pliny the Elder in the blind tasting. (Those beers were COOP F5 and Roughtail's IPA.) Again an example of heavily sought after beer that either did not live up to the hype or has found new and unexpected competition. A question of freshness was brought up but I do believe nothing was over a couple months old.
One of the disadvantages of the quantity consumed was that of our palette's constantly being tossed around. Near the end many participants felt they couldn't give an accurate grading no matter how many mozzarella sticks and pretzels they consumed. Our highly talented servers caught on to this and incorporated an interesting experiment. Our first and last beer was exactly the same, Schlafly's Tasmanian IPA. A world class IPA in my opinion and most scored it either the same or lower.
So next time you want to have some friends over, maybe get a little creative and challenge your taste buds. You may find your next go to beer or discover a whole new style of beer you never tried before.
Keep challenging your taste buds and Cultivate the Craft!