Beer Break Vol. 3, No. 19
More beers to compare and contrast
Feb. 20, 2003
Last March we suggested conducting a "compare and contrast" tasting, where
you try beers that have something in common -- color, alcohol content, amount
of hops, most obviously style -- and discuss what you find similar in them
and what you find different.
Realbeer.com's Battle of the Beers, which starts Monday, provides a good
excuse to try beers side by side ... day after day.
Consider, for instance, one of the Monday matchups: Sierra Nevada Pale Ale
and Yards Extra Special Ale. SNPA is brimming with Cascade hops, thus citrusy
and piney. Yards ESA is hopped with a full sack British East Kent Goldings in
each keg. Still hoppy, but in a gentler way, earthier and more cedar-like.
That's why we call SNPA "West Coast style" and ESA "British style."
Don't be afraid to haul out a pencil and paper and write down the tastes you
discover. Finding something in one beer that isn't in another makes it easier
to understand when you perceive a beer as fruity, roasty, spicy ... and
hopefully pretty good.
On March 3, Tabernash Weiss and Widmer Hefeweizen are matched. Widmer, like
SNPA did with pale ale, pretty much wrote the definition of American-style
hefe. The beer is cloudy, like a traditional Bavarian weiss beer, but
American hops and the yeast character make it distinctly different. Michael
Jackson writes that it "tastes somewhere between a beer and a fresh, sweetish
grapefruit juice, but deserve points for that curious distinction."
Tabernash reintroduced many Americans to the traditional Bavarian style in
the mid 1990s. Its Weiss has a clovey spiciness up front and plenty of fruit
throughout, particularly banana.
If you can't get those two beers for your pairing, consider another wheat
combination. Perhaps Pyramid Hefeweizen (which goes against Harpoon UFO on
March 5) will be available. The American-German matchup is always
interesting. Sierra Nevada Wheat, for instance, is fermented with an American
yeast that imparts none of the clove characteristics you'll find in a beer
like Paulaner Hefe Weiss, but the use of Strisselspalt hops for aroma gives
SN Wheat a distinctly spicy finish.
We won't begin to try to describe the cornucopia of flavors you'll discover
if you put Avery Hog Heaven and Arrogant Bastard Ale side-by-side on Feb. 28.
These two beers are available far from their homes, Colorado and Southern
California respectively, and both have particularly loyal following. This is
one of the most intriguing first round showdowns.
If you can find these two beers, your "compare and contrast" notes may turn
into an essay.
MAD HATTER ALE
Read more from Jackson at http://www.beerhunter.com
Brewed by New Holland Brewing in Michigan
Michael Jackson writes:
Attractive, full, pinkish-amber color. Very fruity aroma. Like tropical fruit
trees in a hothouse. Scenty and sweet for a moment, then drying. Reminiscent
of dried orange peels. Lightly oily palate. Oily, malty, dryness. Quite
agressively dry and astringent. Perhaps a suggestion of orange zest. Like
biting an orange that has been peeled. Needs rounding in the middle.
COTTONWOOD ENDO INDIA PALE ALE
Brewed by Carolina Beer and Beverage in North Carolina
Roger Protz writes:
Gold to pale copper color, with an entrancing aroma of resiny hops, rich malt
and tart fruit. A mouth-filling hop bitterness with deep, almost roasty malt
notes - I suspect a touch of crystal malt or something similar. The finish is
quenching, bursting with hop bitterness, tart fruit and ripe malt.