Friday, October 03, 2008

The Other Debate: Alaskan vs. Dogfish Head

Last night's debate didn't pit vice-presidential candidates from just any two states. It pitted representatives of two states with a great beer each. (For those of you following at home, that's one excellent nationally exported beer for each member of the U.S. House that Delaware and Alaska have.)

Coincidence? Maybe. But I surely thought this meant a head-to-head matchup between two of the breweries' products was necessary. And, of course, they should be judged only on issues of national importance that were brought up in that other debate.

Alaskan Winter Ale vs. Dogfish Head Indian Brown Ale

Category 1: Richness (as in, economic questions)
Alaskan brings a lighter, easier touch that is about smoothness rather than any overwhelming punch. Dogfish is dark, sharp and, on the bittering back edge of the tongue has just the slightest spark of tartness. What's impressive is it's heavy without being too dense.

Category 2: Naturalness (as in, I'm trying to relate it to climate change)
There are no false flavors in the Alaskan, whose lightly hop-tinged goldenness was a classic brew with just a little more flavor than many American ales. Dogfish, meanwhile, presents us with a thicker brown than most, an earthy taste that feels conjured by skilled hands rather than just being allowed to produce itself during fermentation.

Category 3: The Surge of taste (yeah, I know this is stretching it a little)
Alaskan gives a mild smooth ride, nothing that sends a wall of flavor rushing at you. I'm not sure there is a surge here as much as the taste troops just waltz in gently and occupy your mouth. Dogfish Head, meanwhile, comes on like a quick strike and then sticks around. This is a booming brown and slightly bitter presence that echoes through the recesses of your mouth.

Category 4: Clarity (as in, somebody needs to give a clear answer)
Alaskan is golden and slightly translucent, natural and refreshing. Dogfish Head is dark but clean. It's certainly not a clear beer. Then again, it isn't doubling back on itself or ducking questions either.

Category 5: Achilles Heel (as in, a fair question for beers too)
Alaskan is a smooth, enjoyable beer, but it's also a little lighter than other winter ales, making its performance a little less memorable than, say, its excellent smoked porter. Dogfish Head concentrates on its malty, alcoholic darkness, so if you're looking for something to drink four of in a night, this ain't your session beer.

The winner: Well, it was me. I got to drink two good beers while watching an important debate. All elections should be this fun.

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That's a great way to sample the best from their world while numbing the pain of listening to politicians argue.
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