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Colorado’s Best Pale Ales Blind Tasting Presented by On Tap Credit Union

2023 Colorado Pale Ale Blind Tasting Final Three
Brian Phipps

Here ye, here ye! Another PorchDrinking Blind Tasting has been conducted! This time 24 of Colorado’s Best Pale Ales were submitted from breweries from all across the state. All beers were non-adjunct and needed to mostly follow the Beer Judge Certification Program (BJCP) guidelines of the Pale Ale style.

For starters, the goal of the Blind Tasting Series is to find the best beer of each style in the Centennial, regardless of the beer’s label, the brewery’s marketing or notoriety.

The seventh edition of the Blind Tasting Series is presented by On Tap Credit Union, providing banking solutions for Colorado, breweries and beer lovers alike.

2023 Colorado Pale Ale Blind Tasting Final Three
Photo Credit: Justin Montes

Objective & Method

For the Pale Ale Blind Tasting, judges were given the BJCP guidelines as a reference point but did not need to fully adhere to them. The main goal for the judges was to find a beer that best represented the Pale Ale style.

Now, we chose to use the blind-tasting format as a way to remove as many biases and preconceived notions as the judges may have about a brewery or beer. Any and all sizes of breweries in Colorado were asked to submit if they had a Pale Ale that approximately met the BJCP guidelines of a Pale Ale that measured at 30-50 IBU, ABV of 4.5% – 6.2%, and was non-adjunct.

Format

Similarly, the Blind Tasting consisted of a three-round layout. In the first round, the 24 beers were split in half randomly where three of the judges tasted half of the beers while the other four judges tasted the other 12 beers. In order to advance, beers either needed to have a majority of judges vote electronically to advance the beer or the beer needed to score higher than one standard deviation from the judging group’s overall mean score.

Of the 24 beers, seven moved to the second round.

For the next segment, all seven judges tried all seven beers. In this round, judges shared general tasting notes and then voted electronically on whether each beer should advance.

Of the seven beers, three moved to the final round.

In the third round, judges tried all three remaining beers. After tasting, the judges debated verbally whether the beer merited Best In Show or Top Marks.

In the end, the judges chose two beers that deserved to be awarded Best In Show and the tasting’s Colorado’s Best Pale Ales.

Judges

The group of seven judges comes from different areas of the craft beer industry:

  • Dev Adams, Advanced Cicerone
  • Shawnee Adelson, Executive Director for the Colorado Brewers Guild
  • Britt Antley, PorchDrinking Colorado Co-Editor
  • Scott Grossman, PorchDrinking Writer
  • Steve Kurowski, former Marketing Director for the Colorado Brewers Guild
  • Andy Parker, former Director of Innovation for Denver Beer Co.
  • Ed Sealover, author of Mountain Brew: A Guide to Colorado Breweries, and Senior Reporter for the Denver Business Journal

Just before we get to the results, we are extremely grateful to the 24 breweries that submitted for the Pale Ale Blind Tasting! Thank you!

Results

Colorado Pale Ale Blind Tasting Semi-Finalist Beers
Photo Credit: Justin Montes

Honorable Mentions

Top Marks

Eddyline Brewery (Buena Vista, CO) – River Runners Pale Ale

Eddyline Brewery's River Runners Pale Ale
Photo Credit: Justin Montes

This Chaffee County’s River Runners Pale was awarded with Top Marks in our Colorado Pale Blind Tasting. The judges definitively noted that this is a great example of a Pale Ale. Although it is a tad sweet for the style, the flavor still hits close enough to the mark while the medium-gold color and aromas are excellent!

Best In Show

In the final round to determine Colorado’s best Pale Ales, the judges determined that two beers deserved to be named Best In Show. The judges, consistently, named one a classic style and the other a modern style.

First, let’s talk about the classic Pale Ale that was awarded Best In Show.

Bootstrap Brewing (Longmont, CO) | Stick’s Pale Ale

Bootstrap Brewing Sticks Pale Ale Best In Show
Photo Credit: Justin Montes

Here are some of the notes the judges wrote about Stick’s Pale Ale:

  • “Good balanced beer that is what I think a pale ale should taste like.”
  • “The flavor is more satisfying than the aroma. Easy drinker. A more ‘traditional’ pale ale.”
  • “Balanced and clean. Very good old-school style pale ale. Slightly aggressive hop finish, but in a good way.”
  • “Great old school pale. Piney, great lingering bitterness.”

Perhaps, it should not have been a surprise this beer did so well with our judges as it has received 19 medals in competitions since 2014, including gold at the 2016 and 2021 Great American Beer Festivals.

Joyride Brewing Co. (Edgewater, CO) | Nothing Without Providence

2023 Colorado Pale Ale Blind Tasting Joyride Brewing Co
Photo Credit: Justin Montes

The nine-year-old, Denver metro brewery also scores a Best In Show award in our Colorado Pale Ale Blind Tasting. In the third-round debate, one of the judges declared this beer is an “evolution of a pale ale.” Many of the other judges also concurred that it is “modern” and Joryide describes it as a West Coast Style Pale Ale. Perhaps, the best tasting note was, “There is a refined tropical taste that blankets your taste buds. Yes, the body is lighter, but the flavor is so exceptional that I prefer to honor and drink it.”



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