Last month Dave and I sat down and blindly tasted three Imperial IPAs. At that sitting, we preferred Hopworks Ace of Spades, followed by Pyramid Outburst, with a possibly decrepit bottle of Ninkasi Tricerahops lagging behind.
On that post, Jeff Alworth commented that he wished Deschutes Hop Henge had been in the competition. Hop Henge is something of a moving target, since every batch is a different experiment on the recipe, but it is right in there with the hoppiest, maltiest bruisers, so I hinted that I might try a second round of IIPA tasting, pitting Ace of Spades against Hop Henge and another beer I'm a huge fan of: Firestone Walker Double Jack. Suprisingly, I did get my act together enough to pull that tasting off at a neighborhood get-together last weekend.
Dave, Lindsey, and I -- with special guest taster Gypsy -- put our heads together and sampled the three beers. Dave immediately declared "I know which one is the Ace of Spades", so naturally I blurted out, "Oh yeah, me too", though it turned out he was right and I was wrong. The competition ended up as follows:
- Double Jack - everyone's favorite: hot and flowery, thick and satisfying
- Ace of Spades - solid and malty with a nice bitter finish
- Hop Henge - the lightest of the three, flowery and green, a little sweet
All three are worthy, if you like giant hop monsters like that, and Ace of Spades and Double Jack have enough in common that you might mistake one for the other. Definitely try the Double Jack if you haven't already. But check this out: the blog Bottle Battle blind-tasted Double Jack vs. Widmer Deadlift (now called Nelson IIPA), and the Widmer won. I've written favorably about Deadlift/Nelson in the past, but I can't imagine it beating the magnificent Double Jack, so I may have to do yet another round of blind IIPA tasting to see for myself.