After being spoiled by years of the awesome range of great beer in Chicago, I'm re-planted elsewhere in the midwest and decided to do an exhaustive blind tasting comparison to find my new "go to" IPA(s)...
Started with the following in the Octa Finals: Avery Maharajah, Bear Rep. Hop Rye, Bear Rep. Racer 5, Bell's Two-Hearted, Boulevard Double Wide, Firestone Double Jack, Founder's Reds Rye, G-D Denver, G-D Fresh Hop, G-D Hercules, G-D Titan, Green Flash Imperial IPA, Green Flash West Coast, Green Flash Hop Red, Green Gold, Hoppin' Frog Manalishi, Mikkeller I-Beat-U (IBU), Mikkeller I-Hardcore You, Lost Coast Indica, Odell Moutain Standard, Odell Myrcennary, SKA Hoperandi, S-N Northern Harvest, S-N Pale Ale, S-N Torpedo, Stone Arrogant Bastard, Stone IPA, Stone Ruination. I realize these are not identical brew categories but for my purposes they are within the same "consumption zone".
Tastings were poured at mildly cool temperature into unmarked 10oz cups... Tastings were of 3 or 4 beers in an evening... Each beer was placed in at least two tastings before being discarded if it just didn't hold up...
After 4 rounds of these tastings, it down to 7 that consistently shined equal or above the competition... Hop Stoopid, Maharajah, Myrcennary, G-D Hercules, Indica, and Mean Manalishi. I threw out Manalishi b/c the absurd price. Also tossed the Mikkellers for the same reason, though they are fine tasting beers.
In head-to-head blind tastings of this final pool:
Myrcennary slightly beat out Indica, as did G-D-H and Hop Stoopid. The relatively thin texture and singular flavor of Indica brought it down in the end.
Hercules and Myrcennary had a tug-of-war, one winning one night, the other the next..
In one tasting Myrcennary edged out Maharajah and Hop Stoopid.... but a few days later Hop Stoopid beat Hercules which had earlier held it's own with Myrcennary.
SO: My new go-to IPAs .... G-D-H, Myrcennary, Maharajah and Hop Stoopid... Honorable mention to Indica which is a great fall-back and change of pace. And the good news is they hold up pretty favorably to my old faves in the Windy City.