BitterSweet Sixteen (1)IPAs are driving much of the craft beer industry and dominates our growth. It’s the most popular style on at any taphouse or brewery. So many layers to please the beer snob in all of us, yet so much aggressive flavors to please nearly anyone.

Aaron Matson, owner of Copper Hog, Jay Gaunt from Columbia Distributing and Kris Franks from Sound Beverage were having beers at Elizabeth Station and decided that the ultimate competition of hoppiness should be held to honor the IPA. They developed a competition they are calling “The BitterSweet 16.” The four participating taphouses are Copper Hog, Elizabeth Station, McKay’s and Annex (The Local.)

The BitterSweet 16 will showcase four (4) unlabeled taps at each taphouse. These are IPAs that are carried by either Columbia or Sound, so the possibilities are many!

Customers will come in and grab a bracket. All the beers will be blind, so you won’t know what you’re getting. You can buy four 4oz tasters for $5. Then you rank each, where “A” beats “B”, etc. Take that bracket and move it onto the next taphouse to do the same thing. When you’re done with your bracket turn it into any participating taphouse.

All tastes will be BCJP defined American IPAs. That means no IIPAs, IIIPAs or anything else. Per the 2015 BCJP Guidelines:

A decidedly hoppy and bitter, moderately strong American pale ale, showcasing modern American or New World hop varieties. The balance is hopforward, with a clean fermentation profile, dryish finish, and clean, supporting malt allowing a creative range of hop character to shine through.

Vital Statistics:

OG: 1.056 – 1.070
IBUs: 40 – 70
FG: 1.008 – 1.014
SRM: 6 – 14
ABV: 5.5 – 7.5%

The competition starts on St. Patrick’s Day, March 17th and ends on March 31st. That’s two weeks to complete the whole thing.

Side Note: NEW Tap Trail map hits streets on March 12th at the St. Patty’s Day Parade too. Grab a map AND a bracket and hit the Tap Trail for stamps and IPAs!

The IPA with the most first place wins will be revealed on April 1st. That IPA will be on tap at every participating taphouse for one month.

A few days before the winner is revealed, on March 29th, the reps from those breweries participating in the BitterSweet 16 will come up to Bellingham to hike the Tap Trail!  You can join in the fun with all the reps and get stamps along the way!

So get ready for the BitterSweet 16 and decide what is the best American IPA on tap!

Who: You
What: BitterSweet 16
When: March 17th – March 31st
Where: Copper Hog, Elizabeth Station, McKay’s Taphouse, The Annex
Cost: $5 per 4oz flight, per stop