Mohawk Bend hosted the second annual Los Angeles IPA Fest over the weekend, and Anaheim's Noble Ale Works — which took home the best in show honors last year with Tongue Tickles — defended its crown with I Love It! IPA.
It was a huge field, with more than 60 California-brewed IPAs being evaluated by a panel of nearly two dozen of the Golden State's best brewers. It took three rounds and more than four hours for the panel of beer-lebrity judges to crown a winner, though the I Love It! IPA became an early favorite with the hop-heads who turned out to Echo Park in droves — some even lining up before Mohawk Bend's doors opened at 9:30 a.m.
The crew at Mohawk Bend did an admirable job keeping the hop-crazed fans happy, but the event has clearly outgrown its first home. The scene inside the restaurant was one of barely controlled chaos with knots of fans at the main bar, the tables and any corner with standing room while the harried staff shuttled endless rounds of IPAs to the crowd that often spilled onto the restaurant's front patio.
Ballots were available for attendees to rate the beers they sampled, and Alpine's Nelson IPA was the recipient of the People's Choice award.
The third place prize was awarded to Golden Road Brewing's Wolf Among Weeds IPA, which, at last year's competition, landed just off the podium in fourth place.
The Brewery at Abigail's Poser IPA placed second, and the dark-horse contender from the Manhattan Beach brewpub was under the radar of many fest attendees.
I Love It! from Noble took the grand prize, and brewmaster Evan Price says the beer is "a culmination of what we learned from a year of making the Showers beers."
The Showers series is a line of experimental double IPAs that showcase a single hop variety from Amarillo to Waimea. Price says that making these beers taught him and his brew team what the strengths of each hop variety were, and what brewing techniques were required to coax the best qualities from each of them.