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Normally on Monday I post a review for a brewery. This week I am going to change it up a little bit. Over this past weekend three couples got together and had ourselves a beer tasting. We decided to keep it restricted to 3 different beer styles, with each couple bringing three or four different beers within the style guidelines, plus a couple of wild card beers. One couple is most likely classified as hop heads, so naturally, they were responsible for IPAs. One couple is middle of the road drinkers, so they were responsible for pilsner/lager beers. My wife and I are more open to what we drink and like beer a bit out of ordinary so we were responsible for Belgian Saisons or French farmhouse ales. The only rule was that the beer could not come from Anheuser Busch, Miller, or Coors.

Judging was on a scale of 1 to 5 points, with 1 being the lowest score and 5 being the highest score. In total we tasted and judged 15 different beers. Here are the results:

IPAs:

First up was Odell's IPA from Fort Collins, CO. Scores were: 4,4,3,3,4,3. Total: 21. Everyone thought this was a decent IPA. Not too over-the-top in hop aroma or characteristics. A pleasurable beer that won't kill your taste buds with hops.

Next up was Modus Hoperandi from Ska Brewing Co. from Durango, CO. Scores: 5,5,4,3,2,4. Total: 23. The two hop heads gave it 5s. One of the middle-of-the-road drinkers gave it the 2. This one was a big hop monster. Bitter, hoppy, floral. A real taste bud killer (in my opinion). I can appreciate the charm of this one if we had been eating some spicy Indian or Southeast Asian curry. Not my favorite, but still a decent beer.

Third IPA was Double-Wide IPA from Boulevard Brewing in Kansas City, MO. Scores: 5,5,2,2,2,3. Total: 19. This was way over-the-top. All you could taste was hops. Normally, Boulevard beers are bland and unremarkable. This one was memorable for hops. Impossible to taste any malt or yeast characteristics. Just too much.

Wild-card IPA ended up being one that I brewed and used a lot of Amarillo hops to finish and dry-hop. Scores: 5,4,4,4,5,4. Total: 26. This one ended up being the favorite IPA of the evening. Even the hop heads enjoyed it. Personally I thought it was a bit sweet (probably because the hostess let it warm to near room temperature before she poured it). Balanced malt and hop. Not a palate killer. Restrained and refined.

Lagers / Pilsners:

Guinness Black Lager. Scores: 1,1,1,1,1,1. Total: 6. This beer was flavorless. We all agreed this is what happens when after brewing Guinness Stout the brewery extracts the grains a second time and ferments it. Just a disgusting nothingness of beer.

Batch 19 from Coors. Scores: 1,1,1,1,3,2. Total: 9. Major beer foul by the hostess. One of her favorites is Coors Light (don't ask me why) so she thought she could sneak this one in. She gave it the highest score. The rest of us thought it was not offensive tasting but had nothing good to say about it. Surprisingly, it did beat the Guinness Black.

Full Sail Vienna-style Lager from Hood River, OR. Scores: 2,1,1,2,3,2. Total: 11. What the hell is wrong with all these breweries making crappy lagers? A lager should be crisp, clean, a wee bit sulfury (lager funky), but refreshingly drinkable. This limited edition offering from Full Sail was boring and unremarkable. The hostess loved it.

Double Pilsner from Odell's. Scores: 4,4,5,4,5,3. Total: 25. Finally a really good pilsner. Flavorful, crisp, refreshing. Lots of flavor and aroma. A true pilsner. At 8.1% alcohol, this one has some kick. I could drink this every day but would end up in detox. This was a great beer. Worth the money if you can find it. I may just start keeping in on hand at home.

Saisons and farmhouse ales:

Rolle Bolle from New Belgium Brewing in Fort Collins, CO. Scores: 2,3,1,2,2,2. Total: 12. This summer seasonal from New Belgium was funky but not in a good way. They used monkfruit and sour sop in the brewing process. Most of us found this to be off-putting in both aroma and taste. It was a bit like drinking the smell of an old fitness gym. Not appealing.

Tank 7 from Boulevard Brewing. Scores: 4,3,4,3,4,3. Total: 21. This is one of the Smokestack Series from Boulevard. It is classified as a farmhouse ale. 8.5% alcohol with a blend of grapefruit and happy taste and aroma with a nice peppery finish. A really good farmhouse ale. Worth another try in the very near future.

Funkwerks Saison from Funkwerks Brewing, Fort Collins, CO. Scores: 3,2,5,5,2,4. Total: 21. One of my favorite saisons. Nice aroma of banana and clove but not overpowering. Coriander and pepper notes on finishing. A great funky Belgian saison. The hop heads hated it. They equated the banana esters to somebody brewing banana bread beer. I see what they're saying but still found it refreshing.

Saison 101 from Dry Dock Brewing in Aurora, CO. Scores: 3,2,3,2,3,1. Total: 14. Normally Dry Dock Brewing is one of my favorite places to get and drink a beer at. Their standard set of 8 beers are always good as are most of their seasonals. Unfortunately, this saison is not one of their better offerings. It had little of that funky Belgian aroma characteristic of saisons. It was thin in the mouth and lacked any real depth of flavor. I was expecting much more from the team at Dry Dock. Really disappointing!

Last saison tasted was one I brewed earlier this summer for my wife and named it in honor of her. Scores: 4,2,5,5,4,3. Total: 23. This saison was intentionally brewed for funk. Very pronounced banana and coriander aromas. Muted clove esters. Funky, yeasty, bready mouthfeel and taste. One of the hop heads liked it, one hated it. But then again, he hated everything no an IPA. This beer needs a bit of tweaking the next time I make it but pretty damn good for my first saison.

Wild, wild cards:

We also drank one additional beer I brewed. It is a red ale brewed and named after my daughter. Scores: 4,3,5,5,4,4. This one had to be thrown out of overall scoring because 4 of the 6 people participating in the beer tasting have this on tap on a regular basis. This is one of those beers I make every 2 months and keep on tap year round. I also brew this beer regularly for the hostess and her husband. It is a malty, slightly bitter British-style red ale. One of those beers you can just keep drinking any day, any time.

We finished the night off playing Cards Against Humanity and drinking New Glarus Brewing's Raspberry Tart. This is a Belgian-style frambozen. Sour, bitter, fruity. We all enjoyed it and it worked great to cleanse the palate. Ended up getting a perfect 5 from everyone, but we threw the scores out because it was off of our agreed upon styles and it is a much rarer beer to find.

 

We had some good beers, some great beers, and some beer I wouldn't even give to my neighbors (it was so bad). But no matter the beer, it was fun and a bit intoxicating.

 

On to NFL news:

Interesting to see the injury bug has bitten early and hard during this NFL training camp season. Already lost for the year are Eagles wide receiver Jeremy Maclin, Ravens tight end Dennis Pitta, Broncos center Dan Koppen, and Bears defensive end Turk McBride. That is a significant number of players already lost for the season with only a few days of training camp in the books. Will this be another season where teams chances are lost because of injuries, is it just an anomaly because of the start of camp, or is something wrong with strength and conditioning around the league?

AFC North Preview:

Will the Baltimore Ravens continue their run of playoff appearances after handing quarterback Joe Flacco a huge contract extension this offseason? Will the loss of defensive leader and team motivator linebacker Ray Lewis result in an overall letdown in the organization? I think Flacco is overrated and overpaid. He can manage a game but cannot take control of a game. He is a good quarterback but not elite. I never liked Ray Lewis (murderer) and am glad to see him hang up his cleats. Still, the Ravens should be in contention for the division title come December.

 

Can Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton continue to develop? Will the young talent on offense that finished middle of the league in both passing and rushing continue to improve? Will a defense that surprised enough teams to help the Bengals finish tied for first in the AFC North do it again? I think this is one of those potentially great young teams in the league. They have young energetic players on both sides of the ball. Unfortunately, they play in a very tough division with great defenses and quarterbacks that can manage games. Still, they should be in contention for a playoff spot at the end of the season (probably wild-card).

 

Cleveland Browns suck. I know that is the easy thing to say. But offensive coordinator Norv turner continues to prove he has nothing left in the tank. I don't think he will be able to help Brandon Weeden take his game to the next level. Also, Weeden is old for a quarterback with so few years of experience in the league. They overpaid for two key defensive free agents in linebacker Paul Kruger and defensive tackle Desmond Bryant. More poor front office choices means another dismal season for the lowly Browns.

 

Pittsburgh Steelers just weren't the same last year. Then to top it off, this offseason they lose their best wide receiver (Mike Wallace), a decent running back (Rashard Mendenhall), and defensive penalty king James Harrison. Ben Roethlisberger looked old and slow last year (much more slow than usual). Mr. Pert Plus Troy Polamalu has lost more than a step and needs to hang them up. Not to mention the other old defensive backs (Ryan Clark and Ike Taylor) on the team. I think this is a team that needs to stop trying to win it now and go into serious rebuilding mode. Besides, with as bad as their salary cap looks its time to clean the books and start over. Better now than to keep limping along.

 

2013 AFC North Prediction:

 

Bengals 10-6

Ravens 9-7 (wild card, would prefer them to go 6-10 and realize Flacco is way overpaid!)

Steelers 7-9 (age and injury will end the season early for them)

Browns 3-13 (they really are that bad!)

 

Just my opinion...

July 29, 2013  11:44 PM ET

Sounds like 3 couples got drunk over the weekend..

Ravens still the team to beat until someone knocks 'em off

July 30, 2013  03:11 PM ET

Not as drunk as you might think. It may be that my liver is functioning at its peak right now...or I have an alcohol problem.

While I agree with you on the Ravens being the team to beat in the AFC North, I think too many losses via free agency and Joe Flacco coming back down to earth will go more towards the Bengals winning the division than the Bengals overall play.

 
July 31, 2013  04:02 PM ET

Bengals been knocking at the door for a couple of years now.. I just don't think nobody is going to answer.. Ravens 'should be' good enough to hold off the Steelers & Cincy

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