Every year, Oregon Hophouse holds a blind IPA taste test open to all of Portland at its Hawthorne Boulevard and 15th Avenue beer bars, asking patrons to taste 12 Oregon IPAs and try to guess which beer they're drinking. (The picture above is from our own 2016 blind taste test of all 73 IPAs in Portland.)
And every year, Breakside brewer Ben Edmunds gets at least half of them right. This year, brewer Shaun Kalis of Ruse Brewing got eight out of 12—and if we're bragging, I also got six of 12 right this year. The average was 2.73 out of 12.
But Hophouse also asks every person who came in to choose their favorite IPA.
In all, 936 people voted on their favorite among the 12 beers selected. (No hazies were included. Booooooo.)
But it won by only 12 votes.
The second place winner in blind voting was a stirring upset over Pfriem, Barley Brown's, Block 15, Fort George, Culmination, and other better-known makers of IPAs in the competition.
Tiny Corvallis brewery Flat Tail's Pulp Action IPA came in right behind Breakside as the best in the competition. Almost all of the people who voted for Flat Tail's IPA wrote that they thought it was a different beer.
"I think it's really representative of what people want to drink, not what they think they want," writes Hophouse's Leah Lockwood. "They think they want Block 15, but they voted for Flat Tail."
To celebrate Flat Tail's stirring second-place performance, the Hophouse will keep three of their beers on tap throughout February. Tap 1 will be Breakside Wanderlust, while Taps 2-4 will be Flat Tail's Pulp Action and other specialty beers.
Might want to take advantage of the chance to try their beer: After the sale of their distributor General to Columbia, Flat Tail apparently may move back to self-distribution.