I've had some of the 'best' IPAs in the US before: Pliny, Susan, Sculpin, Blind Pig, Furious, Abner, Abrasive, Double Jack, Enjoy By, Ruination, Dreadnaught, Panzer Wolf... And the one conclusion I've come to? They all taste different. They all bring something different to the table. How does one stand out so high above the rest? This was my question for Heady Topper. What makes this the top rated beer in the world?
The American hype machine clearly has something to do with it, and being limited to Vermont as the only place you can buy it sure helps (I got this one in a beer trade), but surely it also has to taste phenomenal. I could say the same about all the above listed beers as well though. So how does one place the best beer in the world?
For my first ever taste of Heady Topper (the current top IPA/Beer in the world), I decided to do a blind taste test beside the top rated IPA in Canada - Driftwood's Fat Tug IPA.
How I set it up, I had someone pour both beers for me into 4 oz taster glasses and label them A and B. Of course having tasted Fat Tug so many times it perhaps wasn't really a blind tasting, but I had no idea what Heady looked like, so there was a chance both would look the same and there's always that little bit of question in the back of your mind as to how much you really know about your local fav.
Beer A - Very clear, lots of bubbles, piney aroma, less head retention, much more hop bite, intense colour, darker, alcohol more present.
Beer B - Quite cloudy, thicker mouthfeel, floral, sweet, less pine, lighter colour, BALANCE.
After seeing the two beers in the tasters I already knew which was which based on cloudyness as I can't remember Fat Tug ever pouring cloudy from a bottle, but still, I decided to take down some notes and compare the tastes more than the appearance.
Main things about Beer A (Fat Tug) that stood out for me were how Piney and how much bite it has. I love this about Fat Tug. I didn't ever realize the alcohol in 'Tug either, until I had the slightly higher ABV Heady Topper (Beer B). Heady screams balance! This is perhaps what makes it the most appealing IPA out there for many people. There is absolutely nothing to fault in this IPA (which is actually categorized as a Double IPA at 8%, Fat Tug being 7%) It combines so many great attributes into what many describe as the perfect IPA.
So how do I pick a favorite? They are both amazing beers, but actually both so different, and yet similar in many ways. You would have to taste them side by side to truly appreciate this. And this brings me back to my long list of awesome IPA's I've had. Are any of them my favorite? Probably not. Are they all fantastic and worth trying? Absolutely! And this is where I find my answer as to my favorite IPA - FAT TUG!
For me, IPA means fresh and hoppy. And I don't even mind if there's a little too much hop bite. Seeings how I can get Fat Tug everywhere where I live, it only costs $5.50 a bomber, it's bottle dated (unlike Heady), and it kicks ass!, why would I ever want to give that up? BC beer drinkers be proud!
Trying beers is a passion of mine and I'll never give it up, but man do I feel lucky that at pretty much any given moment I can walk down the street and drink a locally brewed 'Tug. Cheers!