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Monday, May 6, 2013

Dark Horse IPA Variety 12-Pack

I remember the first time I participated in a horizontal wine tasting.  I was at a winery in Santa Barbara, CA (Zaca Mesa) and we tasted a chardonnay of a certain vintage.  One of the wines was aged in oak while the other was aged in stainless steel, this being the only difference between the two wines.  I was amazed at the difference in the two flavors and this was when I first understood the specific flavor imparted by the oak barrels. 


We now have a unique opportunity to conduct a horizontal tasting of India Pale Ales made with different hops courtesy of Dark Horse Brewing Company in Marshall, MI.  A few weeks ago, this brewery released its IPA variety 12 pack (costs about $24). The 12 pack contains three sets of four IPAs.  Three of the IPAs are new single-hopped Dark Horse beers and are curiously named Edacsac Dekorcc EERT (Cascade Hops), FF Dekorcc EERT (Falconer’s Flight-a proprietary blend of several types of hops in pellet form), and Artic Dekorcc EERT (Citra® Hops).  The final beer in the set is the much beloved Crooked Tree IPA (Cascade, Centennial, and Columbus hops; AKA the three-Cs of American hops).  The labels are a bit funky, but that keeps in line with Dark Horse Brewing Company’s brand and the artwork of W. Ralph Walters (

As far as I can tell, all of these IPAs are brewed that same way (ABV 6.5%) except for the hops.  Hops Fans—here is your opportunity to see what each of these hop varieties/blends taste like in a quality IPA.  You can purchase a 12 pack and conduct your own horizontal hop tasting.  I did and here is what I discovered.

Artic Dekorcc:  Average bitterness and a distinct grapefruit taste.
FF Dekorcc: Nice citrus and strong floral notes with moderately high bitterness.
Edacsac Dekorcc: Mild floral and hop taste (I can see why this hop variety has been popular for so many years).
Crooked Tree:  Great floral taste with a mild grapefruit and bitter finish.

All four are excellent IPAs!