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Sep 20, 2014

Beer Break

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Beer Break Vol. 2, No. 22
Stretching your taste buds

March 7, 2002

About 18 months ago we offered a simple little exercise for testing your taste buds - a blind tasting where you sample three glasses of beer, two of which are the same, and try to pick the one that is different.

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It's pretty easy when you put Pabst and Avery Hog Heaven (barley wine) side-by-side - but a little tougher if you match Anderson Valley Hop Ottin' and Victory HopDevil IPA.

By taking the time to consider similar tastes, and comparing their similarities and contrasting their differences you'll learn more about what you like, and perhaps why you like it. So this week we'd like to suggest a "compare and contrast" tasting, preferably with a series of beers and with several participants.

If you like the challenge of making pairings on the run, it can be fun to invite friends to bring a beer or two of his or her choice. Otherwise, a little planning can help.

First, think about the order you'll try beers in. Don't just think light to dark, but also from less intense to more intense tastes (the hops and alcohol factor). Consider themes. You might serve two malt-accented Maerzen-style lagers, then two malt-accented pale ales, then two hoppier pale ales. That way you can also compare the qualities of the previous beers to the ones in hand.

You don't have to stick to beers of the same style. They may instead share similar malt bills, be finished with similar hops or have other like ingredients.

Here are a few ideas to get you started. We've sought to list beers pretty widely available, but consider local substitutions (for instance, in the first case, you might include a growler of brown ale from you corner brewpub). For starters: Newcastle Brown and Pete's Wicked Ale side-by-side; Pyramid Apricot Ale and Magic Hat No. 9; Sierra Nevada Wheat Ale and the new Uncle Otto's Weiss Beer from Portland; or Sapporo Black Beer and Dixie Blackened Voodoo.

New beers on the shelves

Pyramid Coastline Pilsner. A Pacific-style Pilsner made with Yakima grown Vanguard hops paired with carefully selected malts, Coastline offers a fresh hop aroma and crisp taste followed by a dry finish.

Fish Brewing River Run Rye. Certified organic by Washington State Department of Agriculture, it comes with a custom-style stamp proclaiming it to be "Brewed in the Republic of Cascadia." Made with all organic ingredients (of course), including Vienna, pale and rye malts. Finished with Hallertauer hops.

Full Sail Whitecap Ale. The Oregon brewery celebrates its 15th year with a new seasonal. Whitecap was the locals name for the pub back when it started brewing. Whitecap Ale is a copper colored English Pale Ale that has a malty mild sweet flavor, a medium body, and a smooth pleasant finish. 5% alcohol by volume.

Uncle Otto's Weiss Beer. From McTarnahan's Brewing, a German wheat-style wheat beer for the spring and summer. Brewed with a yeast that imparts the complex overtones of banana and clove of a Bavarian weizen.

Pairing of the week

Writing about Herold Bohemian Black Lager, Michael Jackson notes: "This style of 'black' lager is served with chunky dark bread and a generous dollop of cream cheese at U Fleku. It's pretty good with marinated meats like brisket, in dark sauces: Austrian Tafelspitz or German Sauerbraten."

Tasting notes

MAGPIE RYE ALE
Brewed by Big Rock Brewery in Canada
Michael Jackson writes:
Full gold color, though I am not sure whether I detect the reddish tinge sometimes found in rye beers. No doubt about the almost bready rye aroma. The palate is light, firm and smooth; the finish dry, spicy and minty, as rye beers tend to be. This one is almost menthol-like, and very appetizing indeed.

McMULLEN OATMEAL ALE
Brewed by McMullen & Sons in England
Roger Protz writes:
Hallo, old friend-this is brewed by my local brewery in Hertfordshire, England. Color like a bright new penny. Typical "Mac's" orange fruit aroma from the house yeast -- the ubiquitous Whitbread B strain -- with a spicy hop note. The oatmeal makes a creamy, tangy entrance on the tongue with tart fruit and rich malt. Uncompromising, very English finish: bitter, hoppy, earthy with a powerful kick of citric fruit. A superb refresher

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