I and four other local beer folks are in the local news today, wherein we participated in a blind tasting of IPAs from all of Central Oregon’s nine breweries—the first such head-to-head comparison of our local brews that I’m aware of. The results were surprising, but more on that in a moment.
How it came about was we were contacted by reporter Heidi Hagemeier of The Bulletin (our local newspaper) to find out if there was any interest in participating in a blind tasting panel for a story about the local beer culture and proliferation of breweries in a relatively low-population area like Central Oregon. Not being foolish I jumped at the opportunity and a few weeks ago we did the actual tasting. (We were asked to keep quiet about it until the story ran, in the interest of fairness.)
Be sure to read the full article, it’s long and detailed and very good, but essentially the tasting was conducted as fairly as possible, with fresh growler-filled beers (with the exception of one that was only available in the bottle) in random order for the blind tasting. We kept notes (rather informal ones) and you can sort-of see our overall results in this PDF. (This tells only part of the story, of course; the actual note sheets we were scribbling on were broken out like I write my reviews, into five components, and we scored each component rather unscientifically on a scale from 1 to 5.)
The surprising parts: The overall winner was newcomer Old Mill Brew Werks, with close second from Three Creeks Brewing. Deschutes Brewery was near the bottom, which (and the article mentions this) surprised all of us. For whatever reason, Inversion IPA that day tasted to me more like a malty Amber Ale, and as such I rated it lower on an “IPA scale.” (I’m still surprised enough by that impression that I’m going to have to pick up some Inversion to confirm/deny.)
But! The two top beers were very good and rightfully scored high, and are solid American-stye IPAs—the best Central Oregon has to offer, if you want to believe the five of us who participated.
Though you shouldn’t take our word for it—organize a tasting for yourself! It’s a lot of fun, and it’s a great way to learn about beers and the local breweries.