Saturday, February 16, 2013
Whether he was inspired by my recent Abrasive versus Hopslam post or whether it was something he'd been thinking about before I was happy to take my friend up on an offer to do a double side-by-side comparison of double/imperial IPAs. Each of the beers is well regarded and I wouldn't pass up the opportunity to have any of them (and over a lot of other beers). But the real question to be solved was if offered this beer or that beer, which would I really prefer.
The first "battle" pitted the highly popular, widely sought Russian River Pliny the Elder against the less well known Kern River Citra. Both clock in at 8% ABV, on the lighter end for a double/imperial IPA. Pouring them Pliny came out crisp and clear while Citra was cloudy yet bright. The first sips offered a surprising and clear cut winner for me. Pliny came across as one dimensional while Citra was balanced yet complex with the citrus bite one expects from this style. As they warmed I found Pliny to improve but Citra still easily won.
The second "battle" matched the winner of my last side-by-side, Surly Abrasive, with the much hyped Stone Enjoy By 02-15-13. After pouring both it was more important than during the last "battle" to make sure to keep the glasses in their original spots as the color and clarity were almost identical. These are the next step up in the double/imperial IPA booze scale, coming in at 9.5% and 9.4% and were bottled/canned at nearly the same time. The beers were distinctly different in flavor yet I would be hard pressed to say which I liked better. Both made me want to keep drinking after each sip.
In the end it's a matter of personal preference but I'd encourage you to do your own tasting of some of your favorite, same style beers. You might be surprised by finding a clear winner or equally surprised in being so dumbstruck by their deliciousness that you can't identify a clear winner.