Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Tony P's Guide to IPAs and Pale Ales

About 18 months or so ago (I'm too lazy to look it up), I made a ridiculous blog post about drinking more cheaply for awhile and sang (or at least chanted) the praises of Miller High-Life. That idea lasted all of about, oh, three weeks before dying a quick, well-deserved death. Since then, I've been primarily drinking Pale Ales and India Pale Ales, other than the occasional Stella Artois or Harp.

I've decided that it's time to branch out a bit (I'm drinking a Flying Dog Tire-Biter Golden Ale as I type) but before I do, here's my rundown of the best and the to-be-avoided Pales.

The best draft IPA I've found is (luckily for me) right here in Chapel Hill at Top of the Hill. It's got just the right combination of flavor and bitter - extremely drinkable. They also can it for you golfers out there.

Let me get the less than stellar ones out of the way first. I will avoid Tommyknockers Pick Axe Pale Ale (Colorado) and Goose Island's IPA (Chicago) - neither have much flavor to them and really, what's the point of that? I was oddly underwhelmed by the Kashmir IPA from Asheville's Highland Brewery, although I like their Gaelic Ale quite a bit. I'm also not a fan of the high-gravity Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPA, despite the stellar reviews.

There are a number of adequate IPAs and Pales that are perfectly acceptable if they're what's available or maybe if they're marked down at the Teeter. Redhook Long Hammer IPA and Harpoon IPA are readily available and always pretty good. The Cottonwood Endo IPA is a pretty decent local brew. Before I headed down to Athens on business last week, I tried some Terrapin Rye Squared Pale Ale (8.5% ABV) that was pretty darn good. And Colorado's Flying Dog Brewery (the one with the awesome Ralph Steadman labels) has the Snake Dog IPA and Doggie Style Pale Ale, both of which are very drinkable.

My favorite brews of the last year or so have been from Mendocino Brewing Company - the Blue Heron Pale Ale and the White Hawk Select IPA (7% ABV). A couple of weeks ago I stopped by the Good Beer Store (honestly, that's the name) and picked up Saranac's Imperial IPA - I'm not normally a fan of Saranac, but this was excellent brew (and pretty meaty at 8.5% ABV). Unlike some other big beer sellers, it's fair to say that Sierra Nevada and Bass Pale Ales are big sellers because they're always good (and Bass has one of the better websites for beer out there). Finally, one of my new favorites is the seasonal "hI.P.A." from Magic Hat - give it a try while it's still around.

Of course it's all a matter of taste - as much as anything this is to help remind me that I probably don't want to waste my money on Tommyknockers and some of the other less satisfactory brews. So don't get mad at me if you drop 8 bucks on a six-pack of Blue Heron and you don't like it. But Lord knows I've tried quite a few (these are just the ones that I've tried more than once and that I actually remember).

Now that I'm widening my scope, I'm open to suggestion for things to try. I'm not a fan of brown ales and I'm only iffy on porters but I'm willing to try anything. Stouts (and oatmeal stouts and milk stouts etc.) are good bets and if you've got a favorite lager or pilsner, let me know and I'll give it a tryout.




At 12:31 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

There's a new brewery opening called Triangle Brewing Company in a month or so. They will be doing a great IPA. It's being put together in Durham. They are just getting thier website together...



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