Bottoms Up

Beer and wine in the Bay Area and beyond

The Hoppiest Beer in America?

By William Brand
Friday, September 29th, 2006 at 6:19 pm in Uncategorized.

Credit: Gregory Daurer/Denver

Boundary Bay head brewer Ed Bennett with the Alpha King Friday afternoon, Sept. 30 at Falling Rock Tap House in Denver. Bennett’s Imperial IPA was named the Alpha King.

Long Live the Alpha King

The hoppiest beer in America? It may or may not be Boundary Bay Imperial IPA from the Boundary Bay Brewery & Bistro in Bellingham, WA.

One thing for sure, it’s the Alpha King. This giant, 9 percent, 100-plus IBU (International Bitterness Units, a Bud has 13 IBU) beer won the eighth annual Alpha King Contest this afternoon (Friday, Sept. 29) at Falling Rock Tap House here in Denver. It’s held each year at Falling Rock on the second day of the Great American Beer Festival.

This contest, sponsored and created, naturally, by Hop Union, Yakima, WA, a major supplier of hops to craft brewers, by Brewing News, the national brewspaper, and White Labs, San Diego, a supplier of yeast to craft brewers. (Full disclosure: I write articles for Northwest Brewing News.)

Ralph Olson, of Hop Union, said there were 65 entries this year, up from 35 last year. Second place winner was Hop Suey from Pizza Port, Carlsbad, CA; third, was Wipeout IPA, also from Pizza Port, Carlsbad and brewer Jeff Baghy.

Last year’s winner was Alpha King IPA from Three Floyds, Munster, IN.

What brought victory? Boundary Bay head brewer Ed Bennett and his assistant Anthony Stone said the answer is great balance. The beer has a ton of hops: Amarillo, Centennial, Simcoe – all much-used West Coast hops. It also has a lot of malt 00 I heard 1,300 pounds for an eight barrel batch. Is that right?

Malts were a two row pale base, Munich, Vienna, both much used in Oktoberfest beers, and a lot of carapils, a kind of crystal malt that adds body and flavor but not sweetness.

Whew. Enough for this post. Can’t get this in Oakland, though, damn. However, I recommend Denoginizer from Drake’s San Leandro and Pliny the Elder, from Russian River, among others in this category.

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    I am trying to find a good beer with the most hops in it, I hear if increases breast milk. Would you happen to know what are the best beers for this.

    Thank you,


  • craig

    i heard that in the u.k ..nursing mothers can get a prescription for “guinnes”(sp)…try that…

  • William Brand

    Kimberly…Craig is right. Everything I’ve heard is that rich, chewy stouts are great for nursing moms. I would be careful about hoppy beers (As the father of five kids, all breast fed by my wife, I hav some familiarity with breast feeding). I would be afraid that hop bitterness would make breast milk bitter.

    I’ll never forget when our youngest was nursing and we ate some really spicy curry. The next day our daughter suffered big time. Would it be the same for hops? Not sure. Comments anyone?