Who is Ted?

I'm the father of two beautiful daughters and an amazing wife. For fun, I enjoy the long hours of seemingly endless suffering that endurance sports (mostly running, cycling and triathlon)provide. During my "down time" I'm an avid beer snob and self-described gourmet chef (in other words I like to burn things on a stove or grill).

Sunday, November 17, 2013

More Beer Olympics!

While I'd rather be writing about this weekend's epic bike ride, the truth of the matter is that I'm still on the mend from my broken collarbone, so instead I'll be doing another round of the Beer Olympics this afternoon.  I've changed it up with a late substitution to the line up replacing "Red Rocket Ale" with "Red Tail Ale" from the Mendecino Brewing Company in California.  Red Tail is their self-described flagship beer so it fits nicely with the other selections in this round.
Its competitor is Alaskan Amber, an alt style (alt meaning "old") beer from way, way up north.  A few years back, a variety of beers from the ABC started showing up in Colorado liquor stores and nowadays they are a staple offering at any decent sized store.
So . . . on to the Head to Head competition.  As always the beers are served by my lovely wife and I don't know which beer is which until I've sampled both of them and declared a winner.  This blind tasting ensures that I don't bring any bias to the contest.  Until that time, they are simply known as Beer #1 and Beer #2.  I evaluate each of them across 4 categories: aroma, mouth feel, flavor, and finish.  Each receives a rating between 1 and 4, which are then totaled for a final score.  The victor will move onto the semifinal round.  To date, both Fat Tire and 90 Schilling moved onto the next round of competition.
In the category of "Aroma," there was a notable difference between the two.  Beer #1 was caramel and yeasty bread, very distinct, and probably the most noticeable smell compared to any of the other beers so far.  Beer #2 on the other didn't really produce any aroma to speak of, even after several sniffs.  Hmm. . . Aroma goes to Beer #1.
Next up was mouth feel, and this one was pretty much a tie.  Neither of the beers was exceptionally full bodied, nor really light bodied.  They both had a crisp bite to them and settled on my taste buds relatively easy.  I'd say they are on the lighter to medium bodied end of things and pretty typical of most amber ales.  Nothing to see here, so just move along.
In terms of "flavor," there's a big difference.  Beer #1 has a strong, forward taste to it.  It's very distinct and has a golden, honey-like quality to it.  The malts are very rich tasting.  A bold flavor to be sure.  At first glance, Beer #2 seems like a ninety-pound weakling compared to #1. It's much more traditional in terms of flavor.  As I sample both, I began to lean a bit more towards beer #2.  It was subtle to be sure, and not as complex in its flavors, but it was the one that I kept wanting to drink.
Lastly is the finish.  After washing down the gullet, what's left to remember the beer by?  Is there bitterness from hoppy overtones?  Perhaps a bit of "skunkiness" (is that a word?).  Simply put, Beer #1 doesn't mess around here either.  There is a long, lingering after taste on this one, but it makes sense and keeps with the character of the beer.  The malty flavor runs the length of the tongue and resonates off the back of the teeth.  I have to admire this beer.  It has a bold aroma and flavor, and the finish occupies your mouth for a good minute or two after taking a swallow. It has a definite personality which makes it stand out from a typical amber offering.  The question is, do I want to drink more of it? 
Beer #2 on the other hand isn't taking any chances.  It's well balanced with a dissipating finish that comes and goes rather quickly.  Drinkability wins out here.  The beer knows what you want and gives you exactly that.  There's not a lot of boldness or adventure here, but it's well balanced overall.  Nevertheless, I find myself at the bottom of the glass, wanting more.
In the end, I think it comes down to what you really want in a beer.  Are you looking for something that challenges you a bit.  If you do, then it's beer #1.  Or, are you looking for an easy-going beer that meets your expectations.  That might be beer #2.  Both of these are good in their own, distinct way.  Although I'd probably be more apt to down a couple of the latter beers, the nod this time is going to go to beer #1.  I'll give the brewer credit for creating an amber that goes beyond what you might expect.  It's a gamble that pays off in my opinion.  Going bold. So the winner is . . ."Alaskan Amber!"
One quarterfinal event to go!

1 comment:

  1. I recommend entering Boulder Beer's Shake Chocolate Porter into your competition. I think it will be the Michael Phelps of the Beer Olympics