When I was a kid, I lived in upstate New York. Auburn, New York to be exact. It’s a small “city” in the Finger Lakes region. The great thing about small cities is that they let you have a nice backyard. The backyard at my home was about half the size of a football field. A yard that size is INCREDIBLE! There’s so much room to run around and play.
The huge yard has a downside though. My father had to cut the grass. And not with one of those fancy ride-on mowers; he was pushing around a bulky mower for hours. A little manual labor never hurt anyone, right? (PS, sorry to hear that you have a bad back, Dad.) After the mowing was done, there was a great scent in the air. That great aroma of fresh cut grass was always incredible.
Now I’m in DC, and my backyard doesn’t exist, and my front yard is a small patch of grass that belongs to the apartment building next door. That fresh cut grass smell doesn’t float around me anymore. However, I’ve found a way to replace it: the fresh hop aroma from a good IPA.
Last Thursday was International #IPADay, which was the perfect time to enjoy a few tasty India Pale Ales in preparation for the latest edition of Three of a Kind!
First up, Bear Republic’s Racer 5.
Starting on the West Coast, I went with the Racer 5. West Coast IPAs have a reputation for being very hop heavy. The Racer 5 is no exception. It pours a beautiful bronze color. The hop aroma is exactly what I would want from my IPA; it’s a nice citrusy, grassy scent that is very inviting. The flavor is delicious. It has a nice crisp and light taste. Good hop flavor with a slight bitter finish. Refreshing, yet flavorful. The Racer 5 remains one of my favorite IPAs. I give it a 9 out of 10.
Next, the Great Lakes Commodore Perry.
Moving to the Midwest, I got the Commodore Perry. The color was lighter than I would expect from an IPA. It was similar to a lager: golden and clear. The hop aroma was more floral than anything. The flavor was great: a nice light taste with a slight clinginess that hints at its malty backbone and bitterness. There was a slight bitterness in the finish that lingered a bit, but it didn’t take away from the quality of the beer. In the stiff competition of these three beers, the Commodore Perry was likely the worst. But believe me, this is in no way a bad beer. A 7 out of 10 from me.
Finally, the Dogfish Head 60 Minute.
On to the East Coast! The 60 Minute is a bit of a staple around here. The brewing idea is quite innovative: adding hops at regular intervals through the full 60 minutes of the boil. This process gives the beer a very complex flavor and aroma (for those that don’t brew: hops added to the beginning of the boil provide bitterness, while hops added at the end of the boil provide aroma. Usually there are only a few additions at various times during the boil. By continually hopping, you get a full smooth spectrum between bitterness and aroma/flavor). The 60 Minute pours a deep bronze color with a slight cloudiness. It has a big floral and grassy aroma, almost spicy. The flavor is almost like a double IPA. It starts with a quick hoppy bitterness, followed by a light malty middle, and then finishes with a syrupy bitter final taste. It’s very interesting and complex. I’d give it an 8 out of 10.
All of these beers should be available at a good beer store (especially the 60 Minute and Commodore Perry; the Racer 5 may take a little searching). I picked them all up at RFD, but many, if not most, reputable beer bars (see our Neighborhood Guides!) will have at least a couple of these available.
Let us know your favorite IPAs in the comments.
Get out there and enjoy a good IPA, even if it isn’t #IPADay!