Thursday, June 9, 2011

MAXED OUT: Tough call

Folks, Max talking beer and talking our favorite style of beer: the world-renowned and formidable West Coast IPA. Max?

Oh, hi there, my finely fermented friends and welcome back to a very difficult episode of Maxed Out. The reason I say it’s difficult is because today I return to my Top 10 Faves, and this week I’m diving into the IPA. THERE ARE SO MANY FREAKING GOOD IPAs! It’s like trying to decide on your favorite Michael Jackson song only, well, different. So I’m going to tell you several of my favorite IPA’s, the reasons that they are delicious and at the end I’ll reveal my Weiner, and no I’m not going to tweet it. What? Too soon? Here we go!

A quick warning: For people like Sarah B that is looking for a good “gateway” beer you might almost want to just skip this article. India Pale Ales are very hoppy, often perfumy and typically bitter beers. They are NOT for the faint of heart. But I am a bitter, bitter man, and you know what ‘they’ say..? You are what you drink!

Let’s start with the easy “sessionable” IPA on my list, and I’m going to go with Racer 5 from Bear Republic. Coming in at 7% ABV, this is not technically a sessionable beer but I am not a typical beer drinker and this is my list, so get off me. Nice and light, slightly fruity and sweet while not overwhelming by any means. It has a slightly cloudy, sedimentary look at times which I personally like in a beer. If there was a gateway IPA, this would be it.

Winning the big, double IPA category for me is the Exponential Hoppiness from nearby Alpine Brewing Company. At 11% ABV, this beer is a juggernaut and is to be treated as a poisonous snake. The first time I had Expo was at the brewery with my Ma for my birthday a couple years ago. I didn’t really pay attention to the ABV and decided to get myself a growler (basically a pitcher to go.) I then shared it with my roommate, Mr. Steele, and the two of us demolished the growler in far too short of time. Baaaad idea, my friends. Bad idea. This is a sneaky beer that just doesn’t have that 11% flavor profile. It is a very well balanced beer for being that high in alcohol, combining the malts and hops in a very unique and delicate way. Other similar beers include Firestone’s Double Jack and… eh hem… Russian River’s Pliny the Younger. Expo is my fave but try them all for yourselves. Just don’t stand in a freakin’ line to do so. Side note: Hoffer’s has Double Jack on right now.

Now, I come down to my TWO FAVORITE IPAS OF ALL-LL-LL TIME-IME-IME! And coming in at #2 is Apex IIPA from, once again, Bear Republic. This particular brew is only available a couple of times throughout the year and the reason that it is number two on my list is because this year’s batch was just missing a little umph. In previous years, I had declared this 7.5 percenter my “favorite IPA of all time” but with this year’s batch just missing the mark, I dunno about that. This can be the problem with beers that are only occasionally brewed, as it is hard to repeat the same recipe year after year when you only brew the beer twice in that year. I’d describe it in further detail if they had more consistency. It’s kinda funny because I think that I’m making this beer sound like a terrible beer when it is in fact one of my favorite variations on my favorite style of beer but I just don’t know what else to say. What a good writer I am, I know. Side note: This beer will be on tap at Hoffer’s on Friday.

And now, the moment you’ve all been waiting for! Number four on my Top 10 List of Favorite Beers of All Time! And I’m coming atcha with Cho-Saiko from Port Brewing. Cho-Saiko is Japanese for “totally awesome/radical” and this beer is exactly that. (The reason that I know this is because I once had a Japanese foreign exchange student named Satoshi Haino and when I taught him to surf, while on his first wave he shouted “CHO-SUGAI” which is pretty much the same thing from what I understand.) This is not the most well balanced IPA on the planet but how do I love thee? Let me count the ways. Bitter, but not too bitter. Sweet, but only slightly. With its orange hue, hold this baby up to the light and let the sun shine in. Magical. I haven’t had this beer in a few months but I can remember it oh so well, which is why it is, and shall be known, as my favorite IPA of all time and number four on my list of favorite beers of all time. I’m pretty sure that it is a Pizza Port Ocean Beach concoction, so that is probably the best place to locate it, however I have a source that tells me that Toronado is expecting it sometime soon. So keep your eyes peeled, hop lovers.

I know that I didn’t go into as much detail about this beer as I have in the past about my top beers, so if you have any questions about it, where to find it, or just want to tell me that I’m a jackass for leaving your favorite IPA off of the list, leave it in the comment section below, on Facebook, or at

Quick side note: This Friday, June 10th, my beer bar, Hoffer's, will be tapping the most epic list of beers that we have ever tapped at one time. It will be a Port Brewing night, and while we couldn’t get our hands on a Cho-Saiko, I can still guarantee you that there will be several tasty brews to choose from both from Port as well as other breweries from around the globe. So if you’ve never been to Hoffer’s, I implore you to come check us out this night in particular. And if you have been to Hoffer’s, what better reason for a return visit. I know, I’m such a self promoter.

Until next time my beer loving brethren, have a drink for me.

(ed. note: Port's Wipeout IPA, our favorite IPA from those folks will be tapped as well, tomorrow. Port Mongo is also a possibility. Our favorite IPA of all-time is Lagunitas' Correction Ale which they no longer brew, natch... Michael, head beertender there at Hoffer's, claims, "If you have Racer 5 on tap, your line-up, by definition, does not suck". We tend to agree.)

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