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Which Sacramento brewer crafts the best IPA?

Published: Tuesday, Feb. 18, 2014 - 12:16 pm
Last Modified: Friday, Feb. 21, 2014 - 9:41 pm

Sacramento’s emerged as a bustling beer town, with nearly 30 brewers now calling the greater Sacramento area home. They’re creating a myriad of sudsy styles, including stouts, barrel aged projects, saison and much more. But if any one beer ranks as the common denominator, it’s IPA, the style of brew that’s especially popular on the west coast and signified for their hoppy character and balanced malty character.

Blair Anthony Robertson, The Bee’s restaurant critic and Beer Run columnist, singled out eight local IPAs as favorites and speak well to Sacramento’s storied beer history in a story which ran Monday.

But when tasted blind, how do these local breweries rank when it comes to IPA?

I sat on a judging panel last Thursday at LowBrau to help sort this out. 16 local IPAs (including one Imperial IPA from a brewer who wanted to follow a different format) were poured blind for a panel that included: Steve Allcock (a brewer and beer judge originally from the U.K.), the His and Her Beer Notes bloggers (Dan Barnes and Darcey Self), Becky Grunewald ( Sacramento Foodways editor), Whitney Johnson ( Midtown Cocktail Week organizer) and LowBrau owner Clay Nutting.

These results will be published in the upcoming Sacramento News & Review “Beer Issue,” which hits newsstands on Feb. 27 - the same day Sacramento Beer Week kicks off.

We’re not going to spoil the final results, but can say the Top 3 were singled out fairly easily among the panel. These IPAs struck us as exceptionally fresh, big hops without dwelling in bitter beer face territory and finely balanced. Many were fine and easily drinkable, though lacking a bit in character or perhaps too hot on the finish. And as much as we hate to say it, a handful were pretty foul.

The final results revealed a few surprises - and some not-so surprises - and will be a must-read article for local beer enthusiasts. In the meantime, refresh yourself with Blair’s article, which is pretty on point with its selections.


* Sacramento-area IPAs are plentiful, eclectic and speak to our region’s personality

Read more articles by Chris Macias

About Appetizers

Chris Macias has served as The Sacramento Bee's Food & Wine writer since 2008. His writing adventures have ranged from the kitchen at French Laundry to helping pick 10 tons of zinfandel grapes with migrant farm workers in Lodi. Chris also judges regularly at food, wine and cocktail competitions around Northern California. His profile of a former gangbanger-turned-pastry-chef was included in Da Capo's "Best Food Writing 2012."

Read his Wine Buzz columns here
(916) 321-1253
Twitter: @chris_macias

Allen Pierleoni writes about casual lunchtime restaurants in The Sacramento Bee's weekly "Counter Culture" column. He covers a broad range of topics, including food, travel, books and authors. In addition to writing the weekly column "Between the Lines," he oversees the Sacramento Bee Book Club, in which well-known authors give free presentations to the public.

Read his Counter Culture reviews here
(916) 321-1128
Twitter: @apierleonisacbe

Blair Anthony Robertson is The Sacramento Bee's food critic.

Read his restaurant reviews here
(916) 321-1099
Twitter: @Blarob

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Note: The Appetizers blog switched blog platforms in August 2013. All posts after the switch are found here. Older posts are available using the list below.

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