Perry Street was the winner of the inaugural IPA Showdown during last week’s Spokane Craft Beer Week.
Whistle Punk placed second, while River City took third with its seasonal Clocktower imperial IPA out of eight entries. The awards were based on customer voting from blind taste-test flights served at the downtown and North Spokane Onion Bar & Grill all week.
The results were a vote of confidence for Perry’s recently reformulated regular IPA (it was No. 2 in the flight at the downtown Onion, letter H at the North restaurant, for those who took notes or have good memories).
With contracts in place for some hard-to-get hops, Perry co-owner/brewer Ben Lukes replaced the Citra and Centennial in his previous recipe with Simcoe, Mosaic and Amarillo, and dropped the alcohol content a full percentage point to 6.3.
“This is what we want our IPA to be from now on,” said Lukes, who did blind tastings of other commercial IPAs with his staff to hone in on what they wanted in the new version.
A new batch is on at the tasting room today, he added: “This is as fresh as you’re ever going to get it.”
The lesser-known Whistle Punk, which is distributing its beers around town on a more limited basis while looking for a taproom location, has done several IPAs. Co-owner/brewer Matt Hanson called the contest entry (No. 3 downtown, letter A North) his best yet.
It was hopped with Citra, Mosaic and Columbus over a light malt body accented with flaked wheat and oats for a bright, fruity character.
“When we pulled it out of the brite tank, it was amazing,” Hanson said. “After it sat in the keg for a week it mellowed out a bit.”
Close to 300 votes were cast in the competition, said Hanson, who also served as Craft Beer Week organizer this year and last. The event is likely to return next year, he said.
“Both (Onion) locations were super happy with it,” he said. “It’s good to have a little friendly competition, and most people don’t get a chance to do blind taste tests. It can be different than you might think, without the brand recognition.”
Along with River City (1/E), other entrants this year included Bellwether (4/C), Big Barn (8/B), Orlison (6/F), Waddell’s (7/G) and Wallace (5/D).