Saturday, September 30, 2006
GABF: Boundary Bay Imperial IPA Takes Alpha King Challenge
I was happy to join a group of more than a dozen beer journalists and beer judges for the annual Alpha King Challenge, a blind tasting to determine the best hoppy beer in America. The event, held Friday in the basement of the Falling Rock Tap House, featured 65 entries.
The majority of the beers entered were high quality, heavily hopped brews. Tasting these brews was a hop head's dream. The brewers held nothing back, with several of the brews obviously dry hopped for an extra level of flavor. It was difficult to separate many of the beers, but the best of the bunch emerged offering wonderful aromas and fresh hop flavors that were balanced with the right level of malt.
Because of the volume of beers entered, the judges were split into three teams, with each judging either 21 or 22 beers in the initial round. There were few disagreements when it came to narrowing down the selections of the best brews. The judging teams picked out the best from each division and 14 beers faced off in the final. All of the judges then ranked each of those beers of a 1-5 scale.
In the end, Boundary Bay Imperial IPA from Washington took the title. Two beers from defending Alpha King champion Pizza Port Brewing Co. of Carlsbad, Calif., took second and third place. Pizza Port Hop Suey Double IPA was the second place finisher, while Pizza Port Wipeout IPA finished third.
A raucous crowd cheered the Alpha King as he appeared for the awards ceremony. More than anything, the title carries with it bragging rights for the winning brewer -- and the chance for Boundary's Ed Bennett to wear the Alpha King crown around the GABF floor on Friday evening.