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 (http://ralphwalters.wix.com/gallery).
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!