Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Blind Pilots: We Love To Taste and It Shows

So i'd say the first tasting at my new place went well. If you forgot the deal, this is the deal. Time, responsibility and what clear headedness remained in the room grounded Flight Great Divide before it even hit the tarmac. We got to do all of the blind stuff though. The tasting panel was a perfect combination of tasting experience, beer geekery, a fiancé full of adjectives, and a man who is actually allergic to Barleywine. In all we tasted twelve beers in four flights, took notes, discussed and had a fun time.

To see the list and recap,

Round 1 – Malt’s Got Your Tongue

1. Penant Ale ’55 (English Pale Ale) – Brooklyn Brewery (retired beer)
2. Palo Santo Marron (unfiltered Brown Ale) – Dogfish Head
3. Firth of Forth (Scottish Ale) – Harpoon 100 Barrel Series

Round 2 – Cool Ship, Rocket Man

1. Collaboration Not Litigation (blend of Golden and Dark Ales) – Avery / Russian River
2. Oude Geuze – 3 Fontein
3. Oerbier Special Reserva ’06 (Oud Bruin) – De Dolle

-- pallate cleanser --

Round 3 – Out of the Basement

1. Racer 5 IPA – Bear Republic Brewing Co.
2. Green Flash Barleywine – Green Flash Brewing Co.
3. Old Curmudgeon (Old Ale) – Founders Brewing Co.

Round 4 – Knock Your Lights Out

1. Lion Stout (Export Stout) – Ceylon / Lion Brewery
2. Morimoto Hazelnut Ale (Brown Ale) – Rogue Brewing
3. Nor’Easter (Barrel Aged Strong Ale) – Captain Lawrence Brewing

Most interesting for me was watching people taste real lambic for the first time. For the second week in a row i have shared (last week Cantillon Broucsella and this week Fontein Oude Gueze) a beer with some serious pucker action to see a friend give the lemon face, but then comment minutes later that they could see themselves getting into a beer like this. I think it speaks a lot about the style. Despite a sour or a lambic’s bold taste up front, there is an earthiness that people are able to connect with surprisingly quickly. Wild beers can be a bit of a shock, so it was very cool to have someone (the feelings were certainly not unanimous) understand the beauty there, it made the inclusion of Drie Fontein definitely worth it.

I had the added thrill of knowing what people were tasting as they were trying to figure it out and waiting to see the bottles, but for me just sitting and discussing with everyone was the biggest highlight. Making people taste and formulate opinions on beer with no preconceived ideas about the style or brewery was extremely interesting. It was great to see people look at three beers and make strong decisions about them, casting aside beers made by highly rated breweries because they just didn’t stack up to other beers in the flight.

I'll definitely be doing another one of these again soon. Maybe each pilot brings a flight so we all get to go blind next time. I'm up for suggestions.

Thanks to Mike Romando at Cheese! for a great 3 year cheddar which we enjoyed after the beer.


Young said...

Hey GB, I was wondering if you were going to write a follow up on the flight night and describe the differnt themes, it also would be interesting to hear the different opinions on the beers.

Also, I remember you had originally intended to pick up another Morimoto beer and not the Hazelnut Ale... What beer was originally intended? Can you compare it to the Rogue Hazelnut Brown Nectar?

Dr Joel said...

I'd like to do a proper wrap up of the Blind Pilot, but Philly Beer Week awaits. I have a couple of interviews to post and a couple more on the way. After the pre, mid, and post Beer Week coverage, i'll either host another tasting or give an in depth recap of the first.

The beer i meant to get instead of Morimoto was Rogue's Mocha Porter. The idea of the flight was to show that dark isn't big and scary and that it can have really pleasant flavors from smooth to complex.