Monday, January 21, 2013

2012 California IPA Tournament: Round 4

And so we begin the second stage of the tournament, in which we will whittle 12 beers in Round 4 down to four that will enter the semifinal round.  The formats of Rounds 4-6 will replicate those of Rounds 1-3; Round 4 consists of four heats of three beers apiece, with the winner jumping Round 6 (the quarterfinals), and the 2nd and 3rd place beers of Round 4 entering Round 5 (2nd place gets its own Round 5 heat, losers are randomized).  Commentary from the judges from this point forward was pretty minimal, as they were focused on doing their judging jobs; the notes presented were my own.

Heat 1:
Kern River Just Outstanding (Kernville), $4.99/22oz, 6.8% ABV, 8.86 NSP, 14 points
Sierra Nevada Torpedo (Chico), $8.99/6-pack, 7.2% ABV, 17.06 NSP, 6 points
Stone (San Marcos), $10.29/6-pack, 6.9% ABV, 14.28 NSP, 10 points

Andy: 1) Kern River; 2) Sierra Nevada; 3) Stone
Brendan: 1) Kern River; 2) Stone; 3) Sierra Nevada
Brent: 1) Kern River; 2) Stone; 3) Sierra Nevada
Matt: 1) Stone; 2) Kern River; 3) Sierra Nevada
Samer: 1) Kern River; 2) Stone; 3) Sierra Nevada

Just Outstanding keeps going strong, taking Heat 1 easily over Stone and Torpedo.  All three of these beers were excellent, but that pineapple thing in Kern put it over the top.  I had Stone third because I found it a bit heavier-bodied than the other two.

Heat 2:
Green Flash West Coast (San Diego), $8.99/4-pack, 7.3% ABV, 11.53 NSP, 9 points
Port Wipeout (San Marcos), $4.99/22oz, 7.0% ABV, 9.12 NSP, 10 points
Russian River Blind Pig (Santa Rosa), $4.90/500mL, 6.1% ABV, 6.43 NSP, 11 points

Andy: 1) Port; 2) West Coast; 3) Blind Pig
Brendan: 1) Blind Pig; 2) Port; 3) West Coast
Brent: 1) Port; 2) Blind Pig; 3) West Coast
Matt: 1) West Coast; 2) Blind Pig; 3) Port
Samer: 1) Blind Pig; 2) West Coast; 3) Port

This was the toughest heat of the entire tourney so far, as reflected in the fact that each judge voted differently.  Blind Pig-lover Andy once again didn't love Blind Pig.  I agreed with Samer's verdict (we tend to look for the same things in our IPA)- I thought Blind Pig was the most citrusy, and Port, while nice and light, seemed to lack flavor.  West Coast went right down the middle of the other two.  But as with Heat 1, they were all delicious.

Heat 3:
Alesmith (San Diego), $5.19/22oz, 7.25% ABV, 9.08 NSP, 9 points
Alpine Duet (Alpine), $7.99/22oz, 7.0% ABV, 5.69 NSP, 14 points
Bear Republic Racer 5 (Healdsburg), $9.69/6-pack, 7.0% ABV, 15.39 NSP, 7 points

Andy: 1) Duet; 2) Alesmith; 3) Racer 5
Brendan: 1) Alesmith; 2) Duet; 3) Racer 5
Brent: 1) Duet; 2) Alesmith; 3) Racer 5
Matt: 1) Duet; 2) Racer 5; 3) Alesmith
Samer: 1) Duet; 2) Racer 5; 3) Alesmith

Duet romps again, with way more citrus than the other two (Andy noted that it had a great aroma and picked up some apricot).  I also had Alesmith in 2nd, because while it had slightly heavier body than Racer 5, it was also better balanced.  Compared to the other two, Racer 5 just seemed mostly bitter.

Heat 4:
Ballast Point Sculpin (San Diego), $14.99/6-pack, 7.0% ABV, 9.45 NSP, 15 points
Firestone Walker Union Jack (Paso Robles), $10.99/6-pack, 7.5% ABV, 14.53 NSP, 9 points
Lagunitas (Petaluma), $7.99/6-pack, 6.2% ABV, 16.55 NSP, 6 points

Andy: 1) Sculpin; 2) Union Jack; 3) Lagunitas
Brendan: 1) Sculpin; 2) Union Jack; 3) Lagunitas
Brent: 1) Sculpin; 2) Lagunitas; 3) Union Jack
Matt: 1) Sculpin; 2) Union Jack; 3) Lagunitas
Samer: 1) Sculpin; 2) Union Jack; 3) Lagunitas

Sculpin dominates as the only unanimous winner of Round 4.  I agreed completely- the order was obvious from the start.  Sculpin had the most flavor, with lots of citrus and apricot.  Union Jack was quite good (clearly better than Lagunitas), but in general it seems a bit wobbly- it was different from round to round (amazing in Round 1, decent in Round 3, somewhere between in Round 4), and in an absolute sense, not relative to the competition.  But who knows.

So, immediately moving on to the quarterfinals (each with its own heat):
Kern River Just Outstanding
Russian River Blind Pig
Alpine Duet
Ballast Point Sculpin

Moving to Round 5, each with its own heat:
Stone
Port Wipeout
Alesmith
Firestone Walker Union Jack

Moving to Round 5, randomized:
Sierra Nevada Torpedo
Green Flash West Coast
Bear Republic Racer 5
Lagunitas

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