Me, enjoying Chocolate Oak Aged Yeti
Congratulations to all the winners of this year's Great American Beer Festival (#GABF13)...

I just wanted to send a special shout-out to all the Oregon breweries who were able to get in this year.  Both Colorado and Oregon took home a lot of medals, illustrating that these two states are both at the apex of the craft beer renaissance. 

There were also a lot of great breweries from all over America - some of which (like 3 Floyds, which I've always wanted to try!) don't get distributed to Oregon.  BOO!  Last night, I was lucky enough to enjoy the gold medal winner for the Chocolate Beer category: Great Divide Chocolate Oak Aged Yeti.  Delicious, and certainly no surprise.

You can see the full list of winners.
Or the full awards ceremony on the Brewing Network.

Or you can check out my summary of all our Oregon friends who won.  You guys rock #craftbeer!


The Overall Take

These are three great IPAs, all very different.  The importance of temperature on beer is never as well-illustrated as it is with IPA.  When it's cold, the hops is the dominant characteristic but as it warms, the malt can overpower, changing the balance of the beer entirely.  There's that sweet spot for every IPA, where the true intended balance comes out and it can be fleeting.
    I liked the rich fruity malt character and complexity of the Deschutes, but it became overly sweet as it warmed.  The Double Mountain, as expected by a single hop IPA, lacked complexity.  The Breakside at first didn't stand out to me as anything other than a really good representation of a big, bold Northwest IPA but was certainly the best balanced overall.

Deschutes Fresh Squeezed IPA - Bond Street Series

Citra and Mosaic hops, 6.4% ABV
Pours a bright amber, quite a bit darker than the other two but crystal clear.  Good head retention, nice lacing.  Nose is malty with a touch of grapefruit.  I let it warm up a bit so the malt character really comes out in the flavor, but it's not as overpowering as I thought it would be.  Some nice rich fruitiness and good complexity.  A hops bitterness that really sneaks up on you and then -BAM!  It has a warm booziness that I wouldn't expect for a 6.4% ABV beer, but I like it.  As it warms, some nice rich tropical fruit flavor comes out but it veers to the side of malt sweetness.

Breakside IPA

No IBU's, no ABV and no information about the beer on the bottle
A bit of chill haze which clears as it warms, this one pours a nice amber color with lower head retention than the other two.  Nose is malty - less malty than the Fresh Squeezed - with some fruitiness.  This is a big beer.  Flavor is malty and bready with a bit of grapefruit.  Very representative of a Northwest IPA.  At first I was thinking that this one didn't really stand out to me - that maybe I'd had too many bold Northwest IPAs, but as it warmed up a bit, I realized that this is probably the most well-balanced beer of the three.  Definitely a good one, but I would have liked some information on the bottle.  That's one of my pet-peeves though.

Double Mountain Cluster

Cluster hops only, 7.3% ABV, 85 IBU
A little hazier than the other two, it pours golden with great head and retention.  Nice lacing.  Nose is fruity, grassy, spicy.  Really nice fragrant floral notes that I really like.  Flavor is herbal and citrus with a strong bitterness.  Lighter body than the others.  Not as complex as the fragrance indicated, but that's to be expected from a single-hop IPA.  It's definitely a good beer if you like the powerful bitterness of an IPA.  Mellows out and becomes more balanced as it warms and the malt comes out.