Monday, May 23, 2011

BrewDog vs The World

I spent Saturday up in Fredericksburg bottling the first Broederschap Brouwerij beer, Dissolution Dubbel, which I will write about later in the week, the beer that is, not the bottling. Just as a recap, the Broederschap Brouwerij  is a collaborative homebrew project between myself, Eric at Relentless Thirst and James from A Homebrew Log.

One the things I have been planning lately is to do a blind tasting on the theme of BrewDog versus the rest of the world. So I took the opportunity to get a collection of American style IPAs from various breweries, in three countries, and sit down with Eric, James and their respective significant others to do the tasting. Mrs Velkyal played the part of barmaid as she is an unrepentant non-fan of IPA.

The five beers sampled were:
We all took tasting notes, and then ranked the beers from 1 (best) to 5 (worst) and awarded points accordingly, 5 points for each 1st place ranking and 1 point for each 5th. With Mrs Velkyal acting the barmaid and bringing us the samples so we didn't know which beer was which, these are my tasting notes, as ever in a form of Cyclops.

Beer A
  • Sight - light amber, firm white head
  • Smell - pine, toffee, light citrus
  • Taste - a soft caramel, citrusy bite
  • Bitter - 3/5
  • Sweet -3/5
I found this beer nicely balanced with a soft mouthfeel. Very much the archetypal American IPA in my opinion.

Beer B
  • Sight - Hazy soft amber, off white head
  • Smell - Tangerines, toast
  • Taste - More tangerines, biscuits and an underlying medicinal note
  • Bitter -2/5
  • Sweet -2.5/5
If I hadn't known that I bought all American style IPAs, I would have thought this was more on the British end of the spectrum. It has a long dry finish which highlights the hops beautifully.

Beer C
  • Sight - Light golden, white head
  • Smell - cheese, sweaty jockstrap, acetone
  • Taste - Sharply citrus, not much else
  • Bitter - 3.5/5
  • Sweet - 2/5
Thin bodied but again with a long long bitter finish. In many ways everything I thing is bad about most American IPAs, all hops and not much else.

Beer D
  • Sight - Light copper, ivory head
  • Smell - floral, slightly herbal and very subtle grapefruit
  • Taste - lightly caramel, like drinking pith, harshly bitter
  • Bitter - 4/5
  • Sweet -2/5
The pithy harshness takes away from the sweetness of the beer, clearly unbalanced.

Beer E
  • Sight - Golden straw, white head
  • Smell - like spicy Seville orange marmelade
  • Taste - touch of sweet malt, hop bitter dominates
  • Bitter - 3.5/5
  • Sweet - 1/5
Far too bitter, astringent and wildly out of whack. The only sample I failed to finish, simply unpalatable.

I ranked the beers as follows:
  • B, A, D, C, E
When we tallied the ranking points for each of the beers, the order was:
  1. D - Flying Dog Snake Dog, with 19 points
  2. A - Sierra Nevada Torpedo, with 17 points
  3. B - Nogne Ø India Pale Ale, with 17 points
  4. E - BrewDog Punk IPA, with 13 points
  5. C - Avery IPA, with 9 points
Given that the Sierra Nevada received more top rankings that the Nogne Ø, it placed second as opposed to an equal second. The Avery IPA received more 5th rankings than the other beers put together. Both the Avery and BrewDog failed to record a single top ranking, though both did come second once.

Certainly an interesting exercise.

6 comments:

  1. So the only undrinkable beer for you was the Brewdog offering?

    A very interesting article indeed.
    Would have been nice to put it up along Porterhouse Hope Head.

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  2. Great blind tasting! I'm glad that Snake Dog and Torpedo are both beers I can (and often do) order from a shop in Cologne, and cheaper than the Punk! :)

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  3. Very interesting! I always wish I did more of these things to be as objective as possible in my tasting and thoughts. I'm glad the Snake Dog did well because I've just worked with a burger bar chain in London and we put it on the menu!

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  4. I'm pretty blown away to see that Avery landed on the bottom. I wonder if they reformulated the beer, or you got a bad bottle. I'm not a big IPA drinker, but I've found it to be one of my favorite American IPAs by a good margin. Shame.

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  5. Actually, I just had a look at Avery's website and I do think they changed up the recipe. I'm almost positive they didn't list chinook hops as an ingredient last time I looked. Not a big fan of chinook.

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  6. Darkstar American IPA ;)

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