King of Ohio Volume 5 – Searching for Ohio’s Best IPA

The fifth iteration of the King of Ohio competition is just under a month away.  Each year the competition, organized by Ohio-based beer bloggers and writers, focuses on a broad stylistically related family of beers and seeks to identify the best commercially brewed beer in the Buckeye state of that type.  This year we return to a style that has become synonymous with American craft beer, India Pale Ales.

Rick Armon announced the full details of the contest back in June, but now that the deadline for entering (Friday, August 23) is fast approaching a reminder to Ohio breweries seems in order.


Contest Details

As the purpose of this post is to encourage entries let’s start by reviewing the details of the contest.  Each Ohio brewery is invited to submit one IPA — whatever it considers its best — for the blind judging.

Aside from the fact that there is no fee to enter the contest works like most beer competitions.  The beers will be broken into sub-styles, which are described below.  The beers will then be judged by a panel of certified beer judges and beer writers from across state, who will select the best of each sub-style and a “best of show” — or as we like to call it the King of Ohio.

Competing breweries will need to provide a minimum of 32 to 36 ounces of beer, in the delivery vessel of the their choosing — bottles, cans, growlers, howlers, crowlers (sorry no kegs). The winner will receive a trophy,  be featured on the Ohio Beer Blog and the Akron Beacon Journal, and most importantly on the Pat’s Pints website. The winners in each sub-style category will also be recognized.

To enter breweries need to inform one of the organizers of which beer they plan to enter by Friday, August 23, which is just over 2 weeks away.  Breweries in Central and Southeastern Ohio should contact me (Pat Woodward at  I’m joined by the same organizing team as last year — Rick Armon ( is handling most of Northern Ohio, Joe Easton ( is covering Cincinnati and Southwestern Ohio, and Tom Morgan ( is the go to man for Dayton and Western Ohio.  In each region the organizer will make arrangements with participating breweries for getting the beers to the contest.

The contest will take place on Saturday, September 7 at MadTree Brewing in Cincinnati.

We are also recruiting qualified beer judges and stewards.  If you are interested please contact one of the organizers.


Sub-Style Categories

Given the proliferation of IPAs of all descriptions sorting the beers into sub-styles is no easy feat.  So, we’ve decided to keep it simple by dividing the beers into six categories based on abv (session < 5.5%, standard 5.5% to 7.5%, imperial > 7.5%) and whether they are more at home in the hazy/juicy/NE style that is all the rage these days, or the definition of an American IPA that would have been accepted a decade ago (West Coast/East Coast/No Coast IPA).  Specifically:

Traditional: A decidedly hoppy and bitter beer (IBU ranges from 40 to 100+ depending upon strength), showcasing modern American or New World hop varieties. The balance is hop-forward, with a clean fermentation profile, dryish finish, and clean, supporting malt allowing a creative range of hop character to shine through. Color ranges from medium gold to light reddish-amber. Should be clear, although unfiltered dry hopped versions may be a bit hazy.

Hazy/NE IPA: Straw to deep golden in color with a high degree of cloudiness. Low to medium-low malt aroma/flavor, medium-high to very high hop aroma/flavor. Perceived impression of bitterness is soft and well-integrated into overall balance. Perceived silky or full mouthfeel. Descriptors such as “juicy” are often used to describe the taste and aroma hop-derived attributes present in these beers.

If your prized beer relies on adjuncts or hews close to the English progenitor of the style or is a hopped up version of different style altogether, don’t fret. We’ve got you covered with a specialty category that includes: Belgian IPA, Black IPA, Brown IPA, Red IPA, Rye IPA, White IPA, English IPA, Fruit IPA, Milkshake IPA, Sour IPA or Miscellaneous (if by some miracle your hop-forward beer doesn’t fit any of the other specialty categories, mushroom IPA anyone).

Full details on the sub-style categories can be found at Rick’s original announcement of the contest.

King of Ohio – A Brief History

The King of Ohio contest launched back in 2014, when Rick Armon and Tom Aguero contacted me about organizing a statewide contest to pick Ohio’s top IPA.  We went on to recruit Bob Lesher of The Artful Pint along with Cory Smith and Ron DeGregario of The Brew Review Crew to join us for the inaugural King of Ohio.  By various schemes each of us picked three IPAs from our region of the state and came to Elevator Brewing in Columbus for a blind taste test.  To everyone’s surprise a small brewery located on a farm in rural Morrow County (Hoof Hearted) beat out one of America’s most decorated IPAs (Fathead’s Head Hunter) to claim the trophy.  Those interested in a nostalgic look back can revisit my post on the contest.

We didn’t get our act together to organize the contest in 2015, but it returned in 2016 and has been a yearly event every fall since.  Below is a list of past winners with links that provide more details:


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