Hawthorne Hophouse and 15th Avenue Hophouse pubs announced Breakside IPA as the winner of the month-long blind IPA tasting contest held throughout January to crown the beer the top Oregon IPA of 2016. There will be a celebration of Breakside Brewery’s win on February 25th at the 15th Avenue Hophouse location, with special tappings and Breakside brewers present.
For the entire month of January, patrons were invited to try a blind tasting tray of 12 top Oregon IPAs at both Hophouse locations. Part of the contest included matching the IPAs with the breweries – there were 12 flight glasses filled with beer and a list of 12 breweries, and the contestant tried to match the beer with the brewery. This was a difficult endeavor, because they are all the same type of beer and many have similar hop profiles.
But a significant element of the contest included selecting the top IPA of the group, based on taste alone, without knowing the identity of the brewery. The winning IPA is featured on Tap 1 at both pubs all year – the pubs’ only permanent handle. “During the course of the year, we expect to pour about 50,000 pints of the winning beer. This can be very impactful on a new or smaller brewery – it’s a way of getting their beer out there into a wider audience. We are thrilled that we’ll be serving Breakside IPA as our top tap for all of 2016,” said Hophouse owner Leah Lockwood.
Past years’ winners include RPM by Boneyard, Vortex by Fort George, and Pallet Jack by Barley Brown.
This year’s winner by a landslide is the flagship IPA brewed right here in Portland by Breakside Brewing, founded in 2010. This beer garnered 425 votes out of the 1445 votes cast. The beer in second place this year was last-year’s winner, Barley Brown, which earned 228 votes. All the other beers earned 50-120 votes each, and included IPAs brewed by Crux, Gigantic, Double Mountain, Boneyard, Fort George, Pfriem, Ex Novo, Drinking Horse, Buoy and Laurelwood.
Ben Edmunds, Breakside brewer said, “We’re honored to have the beer come out on top amongst such a competitive and delicious group of beers. Breakside IPA is our biggest selling beer, and one thing that makes this sort of win especially sweet is that it’s the beer that our staff makes and works on most often. Every member of our brewing staff, from our keg washers to our head brewers, is involved in making Breakside IPA, in keeping it consistent from batch to batch. It’s great to win any award or contest, but when we win for a beer that our whole team contributes to, it’s an awesome validation of everyone’s work. Breakside IPA is one of our oldest beers, and the recipe has changed very little since we first started brewing it on the Dekum pub system in 2010.”
One of the interesting parts of the competition involved the identification of the IPAs, as mentioned earlier. Many brewers and industry representatives took the test and found it extremely difficult. Only 21 ballots scored 8 or higher, and the average score amongst all the ballots was 2.29.
In fact, many brewers were not even able to pick out their own beer out of the 12 samples. However, Ben Edmunds took the test early in January and scored an 8. “The fact that Ben was able to do this means to us that 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 Ben,” said Hophouse owner Lockwood.
Hophouse and Breakside will celebrate jointly at a party on 2/25/16 at the 15th Avenue Hophouse location at 1517 NE Brazee in the Irvington neighborhood. Breakside brewers will be there. Festivities begin at 4:00.
Founder of The New School and most frequent contributor Ezra Johnson-Greenough has worked in the craft beer industry for almost 10 years, doing everything from illustrating beer labels to bartending at renowned beer bars and breweries like Belmont Station, Apex, Laurelwood and Upright Brewing. He has also had a hand in creating events like the Portland Fruit Beer Festival, Portland Beer Week, and the Brewing up Cocktails series. He is available for freelance consultation in marketing, events, graphic design and branding.
I took the challenge and was wondering if my individual results are available?
Tue Feb 2, 2016 9:38 AM
I dont know. You would have to ask the Hophouse people.
Mon Feb 8, 2016 7:17 AM
Congratulations to Breakside and the Hophouses! Having a permanent tap there is huge. Based on their metric they will average almost 70 pints per day all year long of Breakside IPA. That’s about 11 kegs per week! A massive success for great local beer and local taprooms!