Breakside IPA wins the 4th Annual Hophouse blind taste test. Out of 1445 ballots cast in January, Breakside was by far the top vote-getter at both individual Hophouses and of course overall with 425 votes. We are excited by this for a number of reasons:
1. This is the first time a Portland brewery has earned this honor. We love to “drink local” and this is as local as it gets.
2. Breakside Brewery is “new-ish” and not a huge brewery – although they are growing rapidly. They started with a 3.5 BBL system in 2010, added a 30 BBL system in the Milwaukie neighborhood in 2012, and are in the finishing stages of building a new brewery and taproom in NW Portland, due to open this coming summer. Some of the Breakside crew below (photo courtesy of ( http://www.giuliosciorio.com):
3. In past years, we collected 700-900 votes per year, approximately. This year that number is 1445 total ballots. That is a lot of people as well as a lot of different types of people (both beer nerds and people doing it for fun). This year we definitely had the most brewers come in and take the test, as well as people from the media and representatives from many of the large distributors.
4. This is the most legitimate permutation of the IPA test we’ve done to date. The first couple of years we had two different versions in which you could choose to just pick your favorite IPA from a flight, but you could choose to actually know what you are picking. Because of that reason, there could have been a tendency to pick a cool new brewery instead of one of the older breweries, so it could have skewed the results somewhat. This year the results are based on a completely blind test.
5. Also this year, we were extremely diligent about the the “blind” factor. In order to maintain the secrecy, we did not allow patrons to order from any of the taps on the blind flight. They might have asked for a pint of Hop Lava, and promised to not look at the tap when the beer was being poured, but we didn’t do that. In fact, some people stomped out of the pubs because of this – they wanted an RPM and we wouldn’t pour it for them because the bartenders didn’t know which tap handle it was. We didn’t even change out the blind IPA kegs except for once at Hawthorne (after hours) and most employees did not know the line-up themselves. One person, our beer buyer Cait Kelley, graded all of the ballots and tabulated the data.
6. We expected Barley Brown to win again this year. We kept their Pallet Jack on, a great beer that won last year, all month as our “known” IPA. We actually sold almost 2000 pints of Pallet Jack this January because people love it and we needed to have an IPA on at all time, plus it won last year. This year it came in second with 228 votes. We thought this beer might have an unfair advantage because our regulars have been drinking this for a year now. However, in the end, it didn’t make a difference. All the other beers got 50-120 votes. So in the end it is a clear win.
7. Ben Edmunds, one of the brewers at Breakside, came in and took the blind taste test early in the month and scored a whopping 8 right, out of all 1445 ballots. The fact that Ben was able to do this means, if nothing else, he has an amazing palate. So he must know what he’s doing. Arguably some or many of these entrants had an element of luck, but we don’t think luck was involved with this.
More about the contest:
Average score was 2.29 out of 12.
We got only 21 ballots that scored 8, 9, 10 or 12 correct.
Of the people who don’t mind social media, these are the names of people finishing with 8 or more correct:
D Butters, D Johnson, J Fitzechbon, R Marchant, B Edmunds, B McGirk (12), M Reiersgaard (12), B Bretz, B Thomas, K Setzer, M Mcbee (12). We will be contacting you directly within a day or two to collect your prizes. These people are winning gift cards, Tshirts, and/or Mug Club memberships.
There were around 250 ballots with illegible names and/or emails, and a couple of people who got a perfect score (12) but didn’t give enough contact info for us to identify them (arrgh!).
Last weekend to come taste all of the top Oregon IPAs, take a blind taste-test, and vote for your favorite! Top IPA gets put on permanent tap at both Hophouses for all of 2016.
Drinking Horse Team!
Check out the guys taking the blind taste-test from Drinking Horse Brewery, who make an IPA that we included on the list. Drinking Horse is the youngest brewery included on the list.
Next week we announce the winners and the winning beer. So far out of over a thousand people we’ve got three people with perfect scores – they matched 12 IPAs with the 12 breweries. We’ve got another twenty or so folks who scored 8 and above, and if you’re one of these people, we’ll be contacting you soon to get you your prizes.
If you’ve already taken the taste test, you’re welcome to return and take it again.
January is IPA Month at the Hophouses!
As usual, we will curate a blind taste test of 12 different IPAs. Pick your favorite – the most popular beer gets put on Tap One all year round at both Hophouses.
Past winners have been – Pallet Jack, Barley Brown. RPM, Boneyard (2 yrs). Vortex, Fort George.
This is how the Top 12 Oregon IPAs got chosen –
We talked to Hophouse staff and Hophouse patrons over the past month or two about their favorite IPAs. We balanced the list off between some old stalwarts like Workhorse and some new breweries called Drinking Horse (notice the horse theme, in case you missed it). We eliminated some of the beers we usually use because they didn’t do as well in years past. Admittedly, there are forty or so IPAs in Oregon that could have been on this list.
So the beers chosen this year (in random order) are:
Not only do you pick your favorite (blind), but you correspond the beers you think you know with a list, and the best beer tasters win prizes.
Here is how it works:
You’ll get a flight of 6 IPAs, and a separate list of all 6 beers including the hop varietals used in each, as disclosed by the brewers. You may get to smell-test some dried hops. You try to match the 6 with a list of 6 beers. Then you get a second flight, and repeat with a second list.
If you get 10-12 matches right, you get a free mug club membership (sweeeeet!!!). There will be lesser prizes awarded as the contest progresses.
All lists will be graded at the end of each week. You’ll learn how many you got right, and if you earned a prize.
Cost to enter the contest is $12/person. Prizes include tshirts, mug club memberships, growlers, gift cards, etc.
Buy your woman, man or neighbor a Hophouse gift card.
Load it with any amount of cash.
As a bonus, from now until the end of the year:
Load it withe $30.00 for yourself or as a gift and get a $1 coupon for any beer.
Load it with $50.00 and take home a free glass growler.
The bartender has gift envelopes and can put curled ribbon on the growler – whatever you want. Just stop by and let us know.
We are now launching our new Mug Club program for our regulars. We changed a couple of things that we think will make it better. Mug Club membership costs $50/year, and with that you get the following:
All beer is served in the 18-ounce mug glasses and the price is the same as a 12-ounce pour. For example, Pallet Jack would cost you a mere $4.50 for the Mug Club glass.
- Happy Hour Menu:
- Mug Club members now get Happy Hour food menu and prices, all hours, all days. We have a new Happy Hour menu with even more options. This inexpensive limited menu makes it possible for you to stop in and get a bite and a beer at any hour. Which is nice during dinner if you’re not that hungry – you can just get a grilled chicken cheddar sandwich for $6 or a side of our fresh-cut fries for $4. Plus a beer or two, of course.
- New Mug Club Cards:
Mug Club members get new cards with slots for 132 local beers and ciders (used to be only 100 in 2011 but there’s a new brewery on every block now). Every time you get a beer from a particular brewery, you get a punch in that slot. The more punches, the more rewards:
- 25 punches, free growler fill;
- 50 punches, free growler fill and a Hophouse Tshirt of your choice;
- 75 punches, $30 gift card to use at either location;
- 100 punches, all of our respect, bragging rights, plus Lifetime Membership which means you don’t have to pay annual cost.
It will now be easier to get the 100 punches for the Lifetime Membership, because there are more beers (and ciders). So it’s easier to qualify.
And, it’s got nifty QR codes, so you can scan the cards with your phone to see which pub has which beer on tap, in order to get the card finished more easily. Taplists should be updated daily.
Appetizer: Crab and Shrimp stuffed Crimini Mushrooms, Paired with the Baerlic Cream Ale;
Entree: Braised Beef Belly atop purred parsnips with wilted arugula and a mushroom sauce, Paired with the Baerlic Arctos Red;
Dessert: Granny Smith Apple Pie (in ball jars), Paired with either the Baerlic Brown Ale or the Winter Gose (both are delicious depending on preference).
Come on in, no reservations required.
Kolin from Northwest Cider Brokers will be on hand next Wednesday 10/21/15, 6:00 – 8:00 pm, Hawthorne location only, to pour the following ciders from Swift Cider and Red Tank Cider:
Swift Dank Hop
Red Tank Pear Bear
Red Tank CHOPS!
Free tastes, discounted tulips and pints for the evening. Maybe some tshirts and swag.
There likely will be some limited production pumpkin ales as well available for tasting and drinking. Pumpkin flights are now available. Some fresh hop beers still around as of now, check the taplist.
On tap now or soon: Rev Nat’s fresh hopped “Hopricot” cider, Stickman “Fresh-a-rillo” IPA, Base Camp “Fresh Hop Town” saison, Backwoods fresh hop “Citra” IPA, Wild Ride fresh hop “Climber” pale ale, Baerlic “Stay Fresh” fresh hop alt bier, Double Mountain fresh hop “Killer Red”, Ex Novo “Dot the O” fresh hop kolsch, Leikam Brewing (brand new brewery!) “I’m Fresh” IPA, Gilgamesh unfiltered fresh hop IPA, Pints “Harvest” fresh hop IPA, Hopworks fresh hop “Non-Stop-Hefe-Hop” wheat beer, Loowit fresh hop pale “Judge WOPNA”, Stickman “Fresh-a-rillo” IPA, Snipes Mountain “Loza Farms” Fresh Hop Pale, Snipes Mountain “Paquero” Fresh Hop Imperial IPA, Gilgamesh “Fresh Prince” Fresh Hop Double IPA, “Hoppy Accident” Fresh IRA from Ex Novo, “Oregon SMASH” – Fresh Hop Saison with Amarillo Hops from Mazama, Double Mountain fresh hop “Killer Red”, Oakshire “Centurion” Wet Hopped Centennial Pale Ale, Ex Novo “Fresh Hop Oktoberfest”, Ninkasi “Total Crystalation” fresh hop IPA. Fresh hop flights available now!
Four Anderson Valley taps will be pouring at Hawthorne Hophouse on August 19th, with discounts pours, a swag giveaway, and a rep present for some tastings from 6-8 PM. Take advantage of these killer brews while they last!
Hophouse will be shaking things up a bit during the Hawthorne Street Fair on Sunday, August 16th. Stop by our parking lot for outdoor brews and live music!