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Imperial Pale Ale Blind Tasting Championships

The Semi-Final Round of Imperial Pale Ale blind tastings was held last night, pitting the following 5 beers:

Odell Myrcennary (winner of last-year's Imperial IPA Taste-Off http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/966401
Dogfish 90 Minute IPA (The star-to-date in this series
)Pipeworks Ninja vs. Unicorn
Rogue 7-Hop
Stone Enjoy By (Feb 2015).

3 of us did the tastings. None knew which beer was in which glass. There was no sharing of tasting notes until the end, in order to limit group-think.

My actual notes follow, with the other's summary comments at the end:

ROUND 1
Beer 1: Very fresh-tasting. On the bitter side of bittersweet. Nicely-made with rich texture.

Beer 2: "Strange" flavor. Rich foamy texture but not that interesting.

Beer 3: Complex, carmelly. Very nice.

Beer 4: Similar to 3, but not as good...

Beer 5: Luscious basic backbone... on same spectrum as #3. 5 vs 5: both good, slight favor to 5. 5 vs 3: about even...

ROUND 2
Beer 1: Still nice for what it is, a more bitter-style IPA

Beer 2: Yuck

Beer 3: Smooth, nice, rich. Vs. #5: about equal and similar-flavored

Beer 4: See 5 below

Beer 5: Carmelly but with a biting edge. vs 4: 5 is just sweeter, more complex and interesting.

ROUND 3
Beer 1: Luscious for a bitter-side IPA

Beer 2: Still bitter, better than before but just not interesting

Beer 3: Gee-rate. vs. 5, 3 is better this round

Beer 4: no comment

Beer 5: Nice. On the sweet side of bitter sweet.

MY OVERALL WINNER(S)

Beer 3 for a complex, sweetish IPA

Beer 1 as a more classic bitter / bittersweet brew, very well-made.

TASTER TWO: Beer 3 really stood out. Tasted something like a sweet rich coffee drink. Beer 1 was a very "classic-style" IPA

TASTER THREE: Beer 3 was the standout. They were all good.
*********************************

CONCLUSION: Beer 3 was the most exceptional overall beer. Honorable mention to Beer 1 as a very classic style IPA.

*********************************
REVEALING THE BEERS:

Beer 1: Stone Enjoy-By. The winner in classic category, and by far the best Stone pale ale I've tasted.

Beer 2: Rogue 7-Hop. Didn't hold up in this competition

Beer 3: Dogfish 90-Minute IPA. A stunning great beer.

Beer 4: Pipeworks Ninja vs. Unicorn. Well made, but not quite up to this level.

Beer 5: Odell Myrcennary. Through my first 2 tasting rounds, Myrcennary hung with 90-Minute... so a good showing by last-year's winner. The fact that D9-M beat it is an excellent reference of just how good 90-minute is!

Also noted... after this tasting, we tried Lagunitas Hop Stoopid vs. Stone Enjoy By, not blind... difficult to pick a winner between those two, albeit by that time our palates were a bit dulled from the prior tasting :)

... To be continued.

about 14 hours ago
TombstoneShadow in Beer

do they have any good belgium dark beers

Good catch on the "not too expensive criteria".

I'm doubting that very high quality strong belgian ales are available bottle-for-bottle at the same price point as Stella Artois.

Depending on location, Gulden Draak runs about $16.00 for a 4-pack of 12-oz bottles, or $12-13 for a 750 ml. Carolus Keizer is less, around $8-10 for a 750 ml. The OP will get what he pays for.

Also, for alot of people a couple of these beers go a long ways; the OP won't have to swill bottle after bottle like Stella.

Jan 19, 2015
TombstoneShadow in Beer

Lagunitas sues Sierra Nevada – then doesn’t

I can't see any infringement. If they won this case they could presumably sue any brewer with the initials "IPA" prominent on the label.

Jan 19, 2015
TombstoneShadow in Beer

do they have any good belgium dark beers

Any good ones? Answer: some of the best in the world, and quite unique in flavor.

I would focus on a somewhat vague category called "strong Belgian ales". Two of my favorites in this variety are Gulden Draak and Carolus Cuvee de Keizer. Both brilliant... flavor is reminiscent of a great American barleywine.

Here's a link to a blind tasting of these beers:
http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/925432

Jan 19, 2015
TombstoneShadow in Beer

Could someone give me a basic breakdown of this wine list?

In your mind I'd try to aggregate these wines by varietal. So, for example, cluster the pinot noirs together, and the cabernet sauvignons together, etc.

Then familiarize yourself with the blends ... what varietals exactly are in these blends, and what relative percentages if that is provided.

Then I'd quickly try and get a sense of which varietals pair with which standard offerings on the restaurant menu... that's very helpful to your guests. When you talk about "standouts", what will really standout for your guests is if you can help them with pairings. Nothing worse than helping them find a great wine, only to have them match it with the wrong food...

Lastly, unless I'm missing something I don't see any whites or sparklers on this list... or any dessert wines for that matter... be sure to inquire as to what the restaurant offers in these.

Jan 18, 2015
TombstoneShadow in Wine

Recipe for brisket recommends a dark beer like Guinness or Samuel Smith. Not sure what to buy.

Others may have already mentioned this, but what about a Coffee Stout?

Jan 01, 2015
TombstoneShadow in Beer

Telling Me Wine Names Rather than Generic Grape Types

Jim others may have addressed this, anyway...

First, many restaurants offering wine by the glass do provide the specific vintner and vintage information on their winelist.

So your concern relates to venues that just list "Chardonnay" by the glass without further identification...

In those cases I can't think of a shortcut around just asking straight out what specific wine it is and from what year. Also, this is generalizing but those houses that don't list specifics by the glass I'd say are on average not as wine-centric as those that do. In such cases I often have lower expectations and just look at it as something that will accompany the meal rather than be a highlight in itself.

Jan 01, 2015
TombstoneShadow in Wine

Wine Pairing with Lobster Bisque?

To my palate, chardonnay is more than safe, it is "the" pairing. Could go either still or for a twist serve a 100% chardonnay champagne.

It will also nicely match, perhaps splendidly match, your avocado/seabass course.

You will need additional varietals for the rest of the menu, as you note.

Please report back.

Dec 28, 2014
TombstoneShadow in Wine

Wine for Prime Rib <$25

tks for the follow-up!

Dec 26, 2014
TombstoneShadow in Wine

Wine with 'double soup'

riesling or gewurztraminer

Dec 20, 2014
TombstoneShadow in Wine

Wine for Prime Rib <$25

Definitely interesting (at least for me) in that 2009 was a great vintage in that appellation. Drawback if any is that it's a bit youngish, so bear that in mind when tasting it.

Dec 17, 2014
TombstoneShadow in Wine

Wine for Prime Rib <$25

Hi JAB.

First there's another thread here recently where several posters discussed pairings of different red varietals with beef in general and prime rib and steak in particular.

But, to my personal palate I find numerous "richer red wines" work well with prime rib. Here I'm talking cabernet, merlot, nebbiolo, zinfandel, sangiovese, malbec, shiraz among others. Also like rich but "velvety" reds like Valpolicella Ripasso for these meats.

SO... frankly you have a wide range to choose from, what i would concentrate on are two variables to find the price you're looking for:

1) First is VINTAGE YEARS. Try to find a Napa cab, for example, from a mid-shelf producer in a great year... this is where you can find the $25-35 dollar bottle that tastes much better than it's price. In a bad year the $125 bottle won't taste as good.

2) Second is just what your wineshop has in stock... See what they can offer you in these appropriate varietals at your price range. I'd rather have a standard-release maipo cabernet from chile in a great year than a "name" cab from somewhere else in an off year.

LASTLY, I would strongly suggest buying several varietals since you're getting 4 bottles in all... why not at least two different reds, two bottles each, so you can compare and contrast the quality of the pairings ?? Would also suggest some red-friendly seasoning like cracked black pepper & garlic, and side dishes like mushrooms ... these just help you to further "bring the food to the wine".

Please report back.

Dec 17, 2014
TombstoneShadow in Wine

Seeking food pairing for garnacha

Lamb, duck, dark turkey, game birds...

Dec 11, 2014
TombstoneShadow in Wine

Same wine, totally different taste?

Were both bottles the 2009 vintage?? Maybe I'm reading this wrong... you bought one bottle in 2009 and another in 2014? Which vintage years were these?

Dec 04, 2014
TombstoneShadow in Wine

Brewery hits back at ‘racist’ lager claims

ahhh yes, missed that angle...

Dec 04, 2014
TombstoneShadow in Beer

Rogue Hot Stout

Not this one, but I tried a chili beer at a poker game earlier this year... can't recall if it was jalapeno or habanero... no matter, it was horrible, that mix didn't work and I can't see sriracha doing any better.

Dec 02, 2014
TombstoneShadow in Beer

Brewery hits back at ‘racist’ lager claims

Right.... Schwartz isn't edgy; and edgy works in niche microbrew marketing.

Dec 02, 2014
TombstoneShadow in Beer

chateau margaux grand cru

In general:

1: Roast beef, steak, or prime rib
2: Roast lamb
3: Cheese plate of: mid-aged cheddar (4 yrs is ideal), parmesan reggiano, provolone valpadana, and a younger gouda.
4: Mushrooms
5: Cracked black pepper...

Most dishes with these flavors predominant are going to pair quite nicely.

Dec 02, 2014
TombstoneShadow in Wine

Brewery hits back at ‘racist’ lager claims

Never tried this but the marketing angles are interesting. My 2 cents:

1: First, microbrews in general are niche products. As soon as they become mainstream they lose their cache. An interesting line that actually thrives by having a limited market.

2: Microwbrew types like "black lager" have an even more limited niche.

3: Unusual logos, names, images, taglines, etc. are the "norm" in this deliberately limited market. Look at the biggest offender with taglines... Stone Brewing... "you don't deserve this beer"; "this beer is too good for you"... "this beer is absurd"... and all the other crap they cover their bottles with... and they thrive everywhere.

4: Therefore, while "slave to this beer" might offend the average person, understandably, I think the effect on the target niche market could well be the opposite...

Regardless of the above, the color usage on that label is pretty good, and it definitely pops, features a woman, considering the market likely skews male... and every beer from budweiser on down features gorgeous women in their ads... food for thought.

Dec 02, 2014
TombstoneShadow in Beer

Grahams 1994 Port - too early to drink now?

the bottom line is that you can drink it now, and your friend will love this gift... very classy, a great year...

Dec 01, 2014
TombstoneShadow in Wine

Aging Dogfish 120

Ray I "age" most of my beers in a dimly-lit, relatively cool room in the basement... prolly averages in the high 50's, low 60's. Just keep 'em standing up, not laid down like wine.

Not sure if this is the right way but I've opened numerous bottles after 1 - 2 - 3 years, and it seems to work.

Like the other poster said, I'd be a bit leery about keeping them too cold, maybe "lightly" refridgerated, whatever that temp might be,

Dec 01, 2014
TombstoneShadow in Beer

Budweiser loses out to craft beer in US

But the tagline is there if they want to try and revive it... better to have a catchy logo and tagline than just a brand name.

Dec 01, 2014
TombstoneShadow in Beer

Wine Pairing Suggestions? Fennel/Radish salad +tuna, followed by Gamey Ragu

Of your two options, I generally like the second: a white with the salad, red with the ragu...

For the salad w/ fennel, melon radish, anchovy, walnuts, & tuna: Pairings are variable depending on the mix of ingredients. The 3 wines I'd most favor are chardonnay, kabinett riesling, or a rose. Of the 3, chardonnay seems most appropriate, assuming there's just a hint of anchovy. The more pronounced the anchovy the more interesting the rose. Overall riesling is probably the most forgiving.

For the ragu I like a medium-rich red, velvet texture, not too tannic... say, a valpolicella ripasso.

Nov 28, 2014
TombstoneShadow in Wine

Budweiser loses out to craft beer in US

Also don't overlook the importance of packaging and sloganeering...

PBR has that very attractive purple ribbon on the front...

Miller has "Champagne of bottled beer"...

Coors with the inviting picture of the mountains and "brewed with pure rocky mountain spring water"

*&^%$# like that actually helps sustain or revive a beer vs. the competition that doesn't have it (like grain belt, falstaff, pearl, etc.)

Nov 28, 2014
TombstoneShadow in Beer

Czech president: US beer is ‘filthy water’

Right, the direct promotion was via the companies involved... and they've done an amazing job with it. When I first saw Corona pitched as a luxury beer in the U.S. I thought "you must be kidding"... prior to that it was one of the least-regarded beers in Mexico.

Nov 26, 2014
TombstoneShadow in Beer

Czech president: US beer is ‘filthy water’

Think he might be trying to promote Czech beer exports?

Alcohol exports must be a major boost to any economy... look at how Mexico has been able to re-package and promote Corona beer, a bottom-shelf thinnish "old milwaukee of mexico" into something of a desirable cult beverage in the U.S.

Nov 26, 2014
TombstoneShadow in Beer

Wine for prime rib and traditional Thanksgiving turkey dinner?

Not trying to prove anything...

Just as several posters have explained why they don't like pairing cabernet with prime rib, I'm just doing the same... looking into why some of us do.

That said, if I'm picking just one bottle for both prime rib AND turkey, it wouldn't be cabernet.

Nov 25, 2014
TombstoneShadow in Wine

Wine for prime rib and traditional Thanksgiving turkey dinner?

Just to clarify, the choice of cabernet sauvignon and prime rib is entirely a palate issue. There are so many of us who love the combination... Could it be the very high fat content in the typical prime rib cut that works so well with the cabernet tannins?

http://www.seriouseats.com/2010/12/wi...

http://www.culinaryarts360.com/index....

http://www.intowine.com/best-wine-pai...

http://new.scenenewspaper.com/2013/12...

http://www.cellarnotes.net/cn_fw_prim...

Karen MacNeil makes the point very well... while [to her palate], cabernet is "the most beef flexible wine"... "the truth is there are no rigid rules" http://www.cellarnotes.net/cn_fw_prim...

Bon Appetit, and please report back!

Nov 24, 2014
TombstoneShadow in Wine

Wine for prime rib and traditional Thanksgiving turkey dinner?

This basically goes to what pleases your palate as a number of red wines will work here...

For turkey: syrah, zinfandel, or pinot are my faves...

As for prime rib, however, to me it is "the" cabernet pairing. Of the above, zinfandel certainly and syrah also work. Not as enthusiastic about pinot with prime rib though I know others love it. And of course there's a host of other rich reds that work with prime rib: barolo is great, brunellos are great, malbec... a long list; but they don't reach to turkey quite as nicely IMO.

So, if I was to pick only one wine, probably a zinfandel because it really covers both dishes nicely. If I'm adding a 2nd wine either a syrah or PN, depending on which is better on their list. If equal, probably a syrah because to my palate it matches the prime rib a bit better.

To the other question, I'd rather order 2 different wines by the glass, if they fit my dishes better, than one common bottle... even though the bottle is less expensive per glass. I'm guessing you will have enough persons in your party to accommodate two bottles anyway?

Nov 23, 2014
TombstoneShadow in Wine

Oh, $#|+ -- I've reached THAT point . . .

Drinkable port is still a steal compared to alot of other "prestige" wines...

Recently bought the 1994 Graham's VP which is drinkable now. From memory the price was in the $110-ish range?

Nov 18, 2014
TombstoneShadow in Wine
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