Hey folks! Welcome to the second panel edition of the flight panel! First, a quick shout out- I want to thank Dave Crockenberg at What Cheer Tavern in Providence, Rhode Island for allowing me to use his space to conduct this (and hopefully future) flight panels! This week, my volunteers and I tackled three more beers: a weizenbock, a stout, and a double IPA. With the weather starting to get cooler and everyone starting to look forward to winter, I decided to bump up the gravity this week. Remember, none of the participants know what beers are being given to them (myself excluded)- this is a blind taste test, and I only inform them of what style of beer they are drinking. Not every person on every panel is an expert at reviewing beer, and nobody’s palate is ever wrong- taste is purely subjective.
|Name: Steve||Name: Claudia||Name: Jake|
|Age: 47||Age: 56||Age: 58|
|Occupation: Marketing||Occupation:||Occupation: Machinist|
|Level of Beer Appreciation (1-5): 5||Level of Beer Appreciation (1-5): 5||Level of Beer Appreciation (1-5): 5|
|Favorite Beer/Beer Style:
Bissell Brothers: Swish
Tree House: Julius
|Favorite Beer/Beer Style: IPA
|Favorite Beer/Beer Style: IPA
|Additional Qualifications/Info: Is a homebrewer and IPA lover||Additional Qualifications/Info: Married to Jake. Branded herself as a lover of all things IPA, but was open to trying new things.
|Additional Qualifications/Info: Married to Claudia. Is open to trying anything new.|
Beer Name: Moonglow
Brewery: Victory Brewing Company
Brewery Location: Downingtown, PA
Beer Style: Weizenbock
Coming into this next tasting, I knew that I had a room full of raging “hop-headed” IPA fanatics; but as much as I also love hoppy goodness, I feel that I have an obligation to bring a little diversity in terms of beer style to the table. So that’s one of the reasons I brought Victory Brewing Company’s “Moonglow”- who doesn’t love a good Weizenbock? *chirping crickets* …Ok Weizenbock is a very underdone style at the commercial level. So just for a frame of reference, think of a German-style hefeweizen on steroids in terms of ABV (Weihenstephaner’s Vitus is one of my favorite examples of the style). Many examples of the style will have some of the same fruitiness (often times banana-like) that one would find in a hefeweizen; but one might also find some deeper nuttier, caramelly notes similar to what one might find in a doppelbock. Here’s what the group got from this beer:
The group basically agreed that the beer was a sort of amber-maroon color (Jake used the term “rust”; Claudia’s was dark caramel) with a persistent white lacing on the side of the glass. Notes on the aroma were pretty widely variable: ranging from sweet and caramelly (reminiscent of burnt Caramel for Claudia; candy sugar to Steve), to a sort of bourbon-like quality for Jake. To me, I smelled some definite caramel/toffee notes, but the alcohol was extremely apparent- the alcohol stung my nostrils and was almost like paint thinner.
Most of the group spoke in unison about many of the flavors this beer exhibited: a smooth caramel flavor with a sweet aftertaste. Claudia said the beer was pleasant, and again said she detected a burnt caramel flavor in the beer (not to mention it paired very well with tacos- as we had ordered food). Jake and Steve picked up on a sort of caramel and vanilla taste/aftertaste with the beer, which is consistent with the sort of “bourbony” qualities that Jake detected earlier. This beer is not barrel aged, but it’s a very interesting note that the two of them noticed. The star of this beer was definitely the caramel flavor, though I also picked up on some supporting banana/clove notes (the rest of the group did not). In a surprising turn (spoiler alert) this beer was the favorite of the night for the entire group. Everyone said that they would buy a pint of this beer, and maybe even a second one- acknowledging that the beer’s high alcohol makes it a “sipper” (in Steve’s words). Overall, it was a very enjoyable beer and a step outside everyone’s comfort zone!
Long Trail: Unearthed
Beer Name: Unearthed
Brewery: Long Trail Brewing Company
Brewery Location: Bridgewater Corners, VT
Beer Style: American Stout
The second beer of the evening was Long Trail’s Unearthed stout. Much to my surprise, the bar had just put this beer on tap, so I had to put on my best poker face (and also hope that nobody pre-gamed my tasting with that specific beer). Fortunately for me, nobody did, so I maintained the element of surprise for the group. Here is what we got from this beer:
Unearthed stout poured a deep, black color (coffee-colored to Jake) with very minimal lacing on the side of the glass. The dominant aromas of this beer were chocolate and coffee. Personally, I thought it was reminiscent of dark chocolate, toffee, with a definite burnt-ashy quality present in the aroma. Claudia mentioned that there was a hint of vanilla and maybe a burnt caramel aroma to the beer, however there was some quality to the aroma that she couldn’t quite place. For her, the coffee aroma was intense while the beer was cold, and got milder as it warmed up.
The first thing that everyone in the group tasted was a strong bitter coffee taste, which mellowed out as the beer warmed up. Both Steve and Jake noted a sort of toasted nut flavor in the beer, which was akin to Brazil nuts for Jake. As the beer warmed up, the aggressive coffee flavors gave way to some mellower caramel and vanilla flavors. I also picked up a very light cherry-like flavor in the beer as it warmed up. When asked if they would buy one or multiple pints of this beer, the married couple said that they were not fans of the beer and likely would not order a pint. Steve enjoyed the beer and would order one or two of them. Personally, I think the beer is well crafted, however the beer had a lot of burnt-ashy flavors present- which became a bit too much for my taste. I would order one unless other more appealing options were available to me.
Clown Shoes: Space Cake
Beer Name: Space Cake
Brewery: Clown Shoes
Brewery Location: Ipswich, MA
Beer Style: Double IPA
Now considering the group of panelists I had assembled for today’s tasting, I think I would have gotten in trouble if I did not include as least one IPA in the mix. So I decided to stick to a beer from the Southern New England region with Clown Shoes’ Space Cake Double IPA. Here’s what the group had to say:
The beer pours a golden (approaching orange) color with a slight haze, which reminded Jake of cider, and had nice lacing on the side of the glass. There were a lot of different perceptions of the aroma on this beer. Steve picked up some slight fruity notes in the aroma that he couldn’t readily identify, and I agreed (I thought maybe grapefruit, however the notes were faint, and I couldn’t be certain). Claudia thought the beer smelled yeasty and slightly skunky (I thought that there was a slight “dank” marijuana smell in there, though she did not agree), and Jake got a tin can smell. My full notes on the aroma included light caramel, alcohol that tingles the nose, light grapefruit, piney (like pine needles), and an extremely light “dank smell”. Overall, when I combined all of those notes together, the beer had an aroma that reminded me of house cleaner.
The group seemed to agree that the beer had a good bitter backbone. Steve and I both agreed that the beer was balanced between the malt and hops (compared to other IPAs that can often be much more hop-forward). The sweet malt flavor popped more as the beer warmed up. The group also agreed that the alcohol was not hidden in this beer. For Claudia, the beer was too strong, and it reminded her more of a spirit than a beer. For Steve, the bitterness was not overbearing, the alcohol was very apparent, but the beer was otherwise a bit two-dimensional. When asked if they would buy a pint of this beer, neither Steve nor Claudia said they particularly enjoyed the beer very much and would not buy a second pint. Jake, on the other hand, liked the beer. He said it had a good bitterness, and he would buy a second pint. I thought the beer was pretty good, but it is definitely not among my favorite IPA’s.