Sunday, February 5, 2012

Throwdown Super Bowl Edition

If you’re a football fan today is the biggest day in football.  Big TVs rule, finger foods abound, and craft brew pours like water.  What’s not to love?  There is even anticipation for Super Bowl commercials.  I remember a few weeks back when the mayor of Boston was talking trash on Colorado craft brew prior to the game Patriots vs Broncos.  While the mayor of Boston clearly has no clue about craft beer, it did bring up an interesting subject.  Now for the Super Bowl throwdown, who has the best beer from their area?  The Patriots are stationed out of Massachusetts (Sam Adams Boston Lager) and New York Giants are out of New Jersey.  I couldn’t find any New Jersey brews available in our area so I had to find some New York brews instead.  I came up with Ommegang BPA and Genesee Cream Ale.  This is obviously not comparing similar styles and is only a subjective taste test meant for entertainment purposes only.  I’m always looking for excuses to try new brews.  Onward my fellow Super Bowl fans!

Representing the New England Patriots:  Boston Lager

First up is an old standby, Sam Adams Boston Lager.  In the current day of gigantic ABV and huge bitterness the Boston Lager is a bit of a craft brew memory.  Sam Adams in general seems to get passed over as good craft brew these days but is nonetheless a solid craft brew company.  The Boston Lager pours a copper color with a nice two fingered head.  The nose gives hint to the floral and earthy hop character that will soon greet you in the body.  There is good malt character up front with notes of bread, grain, and subtle caramel.  The floral hops start in the middle of the palate and persist into the finish.  A toasty malt character is enhanced with the hop bitterness in the middle of the palate and accompanies it into the finish.  The bitterness on the finish is there but is definitely in balance with the malt.  The reason I like this brew so much is the balance.  The brew starts with a very apparent malt character and finishes with a very apparent hop character with bitterness. 

Representing the New York Giants:  Cream Ale and BPA

Next up is Genesee Cream Ale.  I’ve passed on this brew on numerous occasions but am excited to discover a new brew.  This brew pours a pale yellow with a well carbed creamy head perched on top.  The nose is very clean and is very light lager-esque.  It reminds me of something, what is it?  The mouthfeel is decent with a somewhat creamy character.  Malt character is absent initially.  Everything is fairly mute until you start getting a nutty character in the middle of the palate.  It reminds me of peanut butter but I guess you could call it a biscuit character.  The light nutty flavor lasts into the finish with no real bitterness or hop character present.  Oh yes I know what this reminds me of…this is a Red Stripe in New York street clothes.  The Cream Ale did make me reminisce about my Red Stripe only week on vacation but overall this was not a noteworthy brew.

It looks like the Patriots have jumped out to an early lead.  Can the Giants come back with the Ommegang Belgian Pale Ale?  The BPA pours nicely into a snifter with a large and persistent head.  This brew looks seductive in the glass being a hazy tan color.  The nose is good with some yeast character popping through but is not overwhelming.  Just as the head suggested this brew is very well carbed and gives an excellent effervescent mouthfeel.  This brew seems to coat the entire mouth as soon as you take a sip.  The brew is fairly sweet up front but there is no specific character that I can pick out.  A coriander character dances with yeast spice in the middle of the palate.  The effervescent mouthfeel initially is quickly overtaken by the yeast character that dries your mouth into the finish.  Bitterness isn’t apparent until after you swallow, then you pick up some brief hop character in the aftertaste.  The dryness seems to mask the hop character.  There is no doubt this is a well crafted brew.

Final:  Patriots edge out the Giants 28-23

The Boston Lager takes this throwdown home by edging out the BPA.  The Boston Lager exhibits awesome malt character but also displays good hop character.  The BPA starts off well but dries out too much for my liking.  The bottle says this is dry hopped but I didn’t pick up hardly any hop character.  As the BPA warmed, the yeast character became overwhelming and the brew became overly dry.  As a caveat the packaged date on the BPA is 06/03/11 which means the hop character would have suffered greatly by now.  I’m sure fresh BPA is much better, but for now the Boston Lager is the go-to brew in this throwdown.

Super Bowl Brews:
If Boston Lager isn't up your alley here are some suggestions:

New Belgium Kick - I'm absolutely in love with this brew lately
Deschutes Mirror Pond
Schlafly Schwarzbier

Have Happy and Safe Super Bowl Sunday.


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