Friday, October 12, 2007

National League Beer Championship Series

It's beginning to be increasingly clear that Colorado outpaces Arizona in the world of baseball. But what about in the world of beer? The Fearless Tasting Crew paired off nine similarly styled and named brews to put the two states to the test.

First Inning: Willow Wheat (Prescott Brewing, Arizona) vs. Phantom Hefeweizen (Phantom Canyon, Colorado Springs)
As the game begins, this clearly does not look like it's going to be a slugfest. Phantom offers up a fairly dull take on the wheat beer style, which we tried only because its East Meets Wheat wasn't available last night. But Prescott takes dull to new heights with a beverage that resembled water so closely that we had to look twice to make sure it really was beer.
Colorado 1, Arizona 0

Second Inning: BJ's Brewhouse Blonde (BJ's, Arizona) vs. True Blonde Ale (Ska Brewing, Durango)
Though cleverly named, True Blonde doesn't leap out of the mug at you. Instead, it comes on very subtly, with just a pinch of maltiness. BJ's concoction is by no means an earth shaker, but it has a slightly fuller taste and just enough oomph to push Arizona across home plate.
Colorado 1, Arizona 1

Third Inning: Kiltlifter (Four Peaks Brewing, Arizona) vs. Laughing Lab (Bristol Brewing, Colorado Springs)
The matchup of the Scottish beers ends quickly and decisively. The lighter, slightly hopped Kiltlifter couldn't hold the bagpipes of the Lab, a malty, chocolatey, slightly chewy concoction that always seems to leave this festival with an award.
Colorado 2, Arizona 1

Fourth Inning: English Pale Ale (Beaver Street Brewery, Arizona) vs. Cold Hop British-Style Ale (Boulder Brewing)
Both of these Brits are unassuming pales, but the comparisons end quickly. Cold Hop's low hop aroma is offset quickly by a more striking, stronger grassy taste. Beaver Street's pale starts mellow, stays mellow and fades quickly from your sensory memory.
Colorado 3, Arizona 1

Fifth Inning: Oak Creek Pale Ale (Oak Creek Brewing, Arizona) vs. Indian Peaks Pale Ale (Walnut Brewing, Boulder)
We paired these pales because their names nearly rhyme and, hey, that's good enough for me. But it's also fair to say that neither of these are burning up the festival with their hops. Indian Peaks is lighter and mildly entertaining. Oak Creek, meanwhile, has offered up a beverage that feels less like a finished beer and more like the juice that comes from letting fresh hops sit in water for a week. We'll go here with the more fully developed beer.
Colorado 4, Arizona 1

Sixth Inning: Hop Dog (Papago Brewing, Arizona) vs. Snake Dog IPA (Flying Dog Brewery, Denver)
For the record, I'm pissed that Papago didn't bring to the festival this year its Orange Blossom, an orange-and-vanilla-flavored wheat that was one of the top conversation generators among the tasting crew from GABF 2006. But I vowed to not let that influence my decision in this dog fight. Unlike our last pairing, both of these have quite a bite. But while a slightly mellower-than-expected Snake Dog finds a wonderful balance, Hop Dog's bitterness seems to overwhelm the taste buds more than it charms them.
Colorado 5, Arizona 1

Seventh Inning: Fallen Angel Belgian Trippel (Rock Bottom Brewery Arrowhead) vs. Fallen Angel (Rock Bottom Brewery Colorado Springs)
Seriously, is this a common enough moniker where two beers, even those served at different restaurants within the same chain, should have it? While both are Belgian-style ales, they are brewed very differently. The Springs entry comes on spicy with a decent aroma and finishes quite smoothly. Arrowhead's version is highly estery, and the full blast of yeast taste just makes this feel a little awkward.
Colorado 6, Arizona 1

Eighth Inning: Udder Goodness (Rock Bottom Brewery Desert Ridge AZ) vs. Milk Stout (Arctic Brewery, Colorado Springs)
I suppose we shouldn't expect a state where the average temperature is 240 degrees to be a purveyor of any great stouts, especially a milk stout. While Arctic delivers a complex beer with a chocolatey beginning and a smooth finish, the Udder Goodness is dull and surprisingly watery.
Colorado 7, Arizona 1

Ninth Inning: 1087 Liquid Sun (Rock Bottom Brewery Scottsdale) vs. 1082 Liquid Sun (Rock Bottom Brewery Westminster)
The dueling suns left me with a conundrum. Scottsdale's Belgian-style farmhouse ale had a lingering honey taste that bordered on too sweet as it hit the back of my tongue. But Westminster's faded so quickly from my taste buds that it left little impression. In a case like this, I always award points to the one who at least tries to make it interesting, even if they don't quite succeed.
Colorado 7, Arizona 2.

Well, there you have it - Colorado wins in a landslide. Let's see if the real NLCS turns out this way.

Great theme/idea Ed! Brilliant actually. I'll link over some love from my blog as well.

Hey... question. how did you get your blog to go full screen instead of just the narrow band that Blogger defaults to?

BTW, enjoy some beers at the GABF for me since I can't make it this year! ;) NEXT YEAR I'm getting a room nearby and going all 3 days!
Wow! As a Colorado transplant from Arizona, this leaves me torn. I'm sorry to see this series was as one-sided as its baseball counterpart.

I've been a long time fan of Kilt-Lifter, but it's hard to compete with the Lab.

Thanks for the Booze News!
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