A Comparison of 4 American Strong Ales
Our selections for this week’s tasting competition were the Epic Imperial Red Ale Release #5, the Oskar Blues G’Knight Imperial Red Ale, the Rogue Mogul Madness Ale, and the Stone Double Bastard Ale. The overall outcome of this competition resulted in the Rogue Mogul Madness Ale placing 1st, the Stone Double Bastard Ale placing 2nd, the Epic Imperial Red Ale Release #5 placing 3rd, and the Oskar Blues G’Knight Imperial Red Ale placing 4th.
In general, the differences among the Draught Board members gathered for the tasting followed along the lines of whether one likes the strong taste of alcohol in beer, or prefer a less obtrusive alcohol taste. Those liking the strong taste of alcohol preferred the Stone Double Bastard at 10.5 ABV. Those preferring the more subtle taste of alcohol liked the Rogue Mogul Madness best with the 6.6 ABV. More of us at the taste competition preferred the subtler taste of alcohol, thus the Rogue came in first. In general, we thought that all of these selections were pretty good rating them between 3 and 6 bottles on our rating scale. In our tasting notes, folks noted an “earthy” taste and strong roasted malt flavor and good hops bitterness in the Rogue. The Stone was noted for the strong taste of alcohol as well as notes of pine and strong hops bitterness. The Epic was noted to be smooth and fairly sweet, but not as strong in hops bitterness as one expected with the “late kettle hops” addition. The Oskar Blues was described as slightly sweet, with a moderate amount of hops bitterness.
My personal rankings placed the Rogue Mogul Madness in 1st, the Oskar Blues G’Knight in 2nd, the Epic Imperial Red Ale 3rd, and the Stone Double Bastard 4th. I liked the Rogue best because of the prominent roasted malt flavor that tasted slightly “earthy” and it’s strong hops bitterness. I’m not much of one for beers that have strong alcohol flavors, so it’s 6.6 ABV came through quite smoothly. I really thought it stood out at the top of this grouping. I liked the Oskar Blues G’Knight quite a bit and thought it had a pretty good malt flavor combined with fairly strong hops bitterness. I think the G’Knight is pretty easy to drink even with the 8.7 ABV. I thought the Epic Imperial Red had a moderate amount of malt flavor with a decent hops bitterness, but noticed it was a little too sweet for my taste. To me, the Stone Double Bastard was just too strong in alcohol flavor for my taste. It does come through with fairly good malt flavor and hops bitterness. All in all, these beers have good flavor, but I’m not sure you want to drink much more than a couple of them at any one sitting.
Chief Bottle Washer
News from Port City Brewing
News from Port City Brewing that I thought our readers might be interested in:
Our First Anniversary
It’s hard to believe that we brewed our first batch of beer one year ago! What a year it’s been. Here’s a quick recap of some highlights from the past year:
- we brewed and sold 3000 barrels of beer, or roughly 40,000 cases. That translates to about 720,000 pints of beer!
- we filled over 8000 growler bottles in our Tasting Room
- we gave over 7000 brewery tours
- our beer is available in 4 states (including DC)
- our beer is sold in over 220 restaurants and bars
- our beer is sold in over 200 retail accounts
Overall it has been an incredible year, and we are eternally grateful for the unbelievable support that you all have given us.
We are committed to continued world class quality and consistent supply. We try to make our stuff easy to find!
To commemorate our One Year Anniversary, Head Brewer Jonathan Reeves has brewed ONE, a Belgian Imperial Stout.
Read about the release of ONE here:
ONE, from Port City Brewing Co
Help us celebrate our ONE year anniversary on Friday, February 3rd. A few of our best accounts will simultaneously tap their keg of ONE at 6:00 pm. We will post a list of accounts who will join this celebration on our Facebook and Twitter feeds. Please come join the fun at one of these participating beer bars!
WE ARE EXPANDING! We are awaiting the arrival of two new 90 BBL Fermentation Tanks in the brewery. These new tanks will enable us to keep up with demand in the market. We are working hard to keep up with a voracious, thirsty market that is enjoying our beer! The added capacity will allow us to double our production and keep up with all the great new restaurants, bars, hotels and retailers that are now selling our beer.
Keep an eye on the PCBC Twitter feed for further developments!
Special Tasting Review: Epic Mid Mountain Mild Ale Release #6
The Draught Board conducted a tasting of the Epic Mid Mountain Mild Ale, Release #6, on Friday December 9, 2011. The beer pours a straw color with a moderate amount of head. The brewer says that this is a “perfect beverage to relax with after a long day on the slopes”, but this beer seems to me more suited to hot summer days. In the winter, I’m looking for a beer that has a little more malt backbone. This beer has a nice light malt flavor with a pretty light hops finish. It’s easy to drink and I could sit down and have a number of them. The consensus of Board participants was that the beer was quite smooth and easy to drink, but they also didn’t see it as a cold weather beer. One of the tasters noticed a mild hint of honey and vanilla. The overall feeling of the Draught Board tasters was that Epic Mid Mountain Mild Ale, Release #6 is a nice beer, but not a great one. It rated out with mostly 4 bottles under our rating scale.
Chief Bottle Washer
Friday Dec. 9th, 2011 – Winter Beers II
As an ongoing effort to try and review seasonal “Winter Beers” we’ve decided on 5 more of them for this week’s competition. Our selections for this week were the Diamond Knot Ho! Ho! Winter Ale, the Flying Fish Grand Cru Winter Reserve, the Boulder Never Summer Ale, the Full Said Wassail Winter Ale, and the 2011 Anchor Winter Ale. The outcome of this tasting resulted in the Boulder Never Summer placing 1st, the 2011 Anchor Winter Ale placing 2nd, the Diamond Knot placed 3rd, the Full Sail placed 4th, and the Flying Fish placed 5th.
For this second round of Winter Beers, the consensus among the Draught Board members gathered for the tasting was that each of these beers again had a very unique, yet different flavor and none of them seemed to contain the “winter” type spices (nutmeg and cloves for instance) typical of other beers in this category. There was nearly a tie between the Boulder and Anchor for our favorite and we all felt that the Flying Fish was the outlier with its Belgian Ale taste, thus it wound up on the bottom. If you’re really a Belgian beer fan, you might want to try the Flying Fish Grand Cru as your Winter Beer. We all noticed that each of these beers seemed to have a slight residual sweetness. In general, we thought that all of these selections were pretty good rating as them at 4 to 5 bottles on our rating scale. Even though we all didn’t prefer the Flying Fish Grand Cru, we still rated it at 3 bottles or higher.
My personal rankings placed the Boulder Never Summer Ale in 1st, the Diamond Knot Ho! Ho! Winter Ale in 2nd, the 2011 Anchor Winter Ale 3rd, the Full Sail Wassail Winter Ale 4th, and the Flying Fish Grand Cru Winter Reserve in 5th. I liked the Boulder best as I felt it had a very nice blend of malt flavor and hops bitterness for a Winter Beer. I could see myself drinking a number of these. I thought the Diamond Knot was pretty close behind in 2nd, but it was a little strong in alcohol which dropped it behind the Boulder. Most of the other tasters thought this beer was pretty bitter. I also liked this years version of the Anchor Winter Ale and it’s mild notes of pine or spruce. It was a little sweet, so it fell to 3rd on my list. The Full Said seemed to be a pretty balanced and smooth beer, but I was looking for something a little more flavorful in a Winter Beer. The Flying Fish Grand Cru tasted to me like a fairly typical Belgian Ale which is different for the brewer, but I’m not sure how it works in with the seasonal Winter Beers. It almost seems better suited to be produced in the summer with its overall light taste.
Chief Bottle Washer
Friday Dec. 2nd, 2011 – Winter Beers
It seems that just about every craft brewer out there is producing a seasonal “Winter Beer” selection. Over the past couple years we’ve conducted our taste competition on 25 of them. This year we’ve found a few more that we have yet to try and decided on 5 of them for this week’s competition. Our selections for this week were the New Belgium Snow Day, the Fish Tale Winterfish Seasonal Ale, the Weyerbacher Winter Ale, the RJ Rockers First Snow Ale, and the Starr Hill The Gift. The outcome of this tasting resulted in the New Belgium placing 1st, the Fish Tale and Weyerbacher tied for 2nd, the RJ Rockers placed 3rd, and the Starr Hill placed 4th.
The consensus among the Draught Board members gathered for the tasting was that each of these beers had a very unique, yet different flavor and none of them seemed to contain the “winter” type spices (nutmeg and cloves for instance) typical of other beers in this category. There was consensus among 3 of our tasters on which was their favorite and we all felt that the Starr Hill was a little too sweet, thus it wound up on the bottom. For those of you looking for a sweet representation for a Winter Beer, The Gift might be right for you. HOGB, SS, and SoS liked the New Belgium Snow Day the best. HOGB also thought the Fish Tale Winterfish was right up there too. AD liked the Fish Tale Winterfish the best but thought the Snow Day was right up there as well. In general, we all seemed to be looking for something a little different in a Winter Beer, but that all of these selections were pretty good (except the Starr Hill) rating as them at 4 to 6 bottles on our rating scale. Even though we all didn’t prefer the Starr Hill, we still all rated it at 3 bottles. The tasters thought that the Fish Tale and RJ Rockers were mostly like IPAs, the New Belgium was an interesting Brown Ale with an additional roasted wheat taste, and the Weyerbacher was similar to a Porter.
My personal rankings placed the Weyerbacher Winter Ale in 1st, the New Belgium Snow Day in 2nd, the Fish Tale Winterfish Seasonal Ale 3rd, the RJ Rockers The First Snow 4th, and the Starr Hill The Gift in 5th. I liked the Weyerbacher best as what I thought should be a Winter Beer and felt that it was a slightly milder version of a Porter. Of the group, it has the deepest roasted malt flavor. To me it didn’t seem to be all that sweet, but others noticed that it had a distinct sweetness. I thought that the New Belgium had a nice deep malt flavor and the roasted wheat adds a very interesting taste. The Fish Tale seemed to be kind of a typical American IPA and I didn’t really notice much of the additional malt that should bring it into the Black IPA category. The RJ Rockers The First Snow tasted like a pretty typical American Pale Ale, but I didn’t really notice the seasonal spices that they indicate they use. Starr Hill’s The Gift is a light malt beer that also is fairly light in hops taste. What stands out about this beer is it’s sweetness. Much too sweet for me, but if you’re looking for a sweet Winter Beer, this might be one you’ll like to try.
Chief Bottle Washer
Friday Nov. 18th, 2011 – Imperial India Pale Ales
According to my wife, “these are good beers for bitter old men.” In all honesty, I’m not sure whether the beers or the “old men” are more bitter. These are some pretty bitter beers. This evening’s comparison tasting was on a selection of four Imperial IPA beers. Imperial IPA beers are described as a strong, very hoppy style of beer. Imperial IPAs typically have alcohol content above 7% by volume and International Bittering Unit (IBUs) in the very high range (60+). Our selections were the Firestone Walker Double Jack, the Diamond Knot Industrial India Pale Ale, the Starr Hill Double Platinum Imperial India Pale Ale, and the Dogfish Head Hellhound On My Ale. The outcome of this tasting resulted in a tie between the Firestone Walker and Diamond Knot for 1st, the Starr Hill placed 2nd, and the Dogfish Head placed 3rd.
Once again, the consensus among the Draught Board members gathered for the tasting was that each of these beers had a very unique, yet different flavor. The participants seemed to have very different rankings for them with none of our opinions matching up. Chuck liked the Diamond Knot best and Firestone Walker least. Dave liked the Firestone Walker best and Diamond Knot least. Karl liked the Diamond Knot best and Starr Hill least and I liked the Starr Hill best and the Dogfish Head the least. In general, we described these beers as a bit “over the top” rating as them at 4 to 5 bottles on our rating scale. Although the Draught Board participants generally liked these beers, they wouldn’t choose to drink much more than a couple of them at a time. Each beer had quite a high level of hop bitterness and were quite strong in alcohol. Most of the participants felt that the Dogfish Head Hellhound was the outlier of the group due to the use of lemon in the recipe.
My personal rankings placed the Starr Hill Double Platinum in 1st, the Firestone Walker Double Jack in 2nd, the Diamond Knot Industrial IPA 3rd, and the Dogfish Head Hellhound On My Ale 4th. I felt that the Starr Hill had the most hops bitterness and the least noticeable alcohol taste and was the best overall. The Firestone Walker had a moderate hops bitterness and was fairly smooth. The Diamond Knot seemed the lightest in malt and hops flavors, yet still quite strong. To me, the Dogfish Head had a light malt flavor with a moderate hops bitterness, but the lemon made it taste quite different from the others and made it seem a bit out of place. It might actually taste better on its own and not in comparison with other Imperial IPAs.
Chief Bottle Washer
Special Tasting Review: Guinness Black Lager
The Draught Board conducted a tasting of Guinness Black Lager on Nov. 11, 2011. The beer pours a deep black color with a mild head that is not quite as long lasting as a Guinness Draught. It has a light aroma of roasted malts. The consensus of Board participants was that the beer was quite smooth and easy to drink. Some noticed a mild bitterness that went along with hint of chocolate or coffee flavor. I personally noticed that the lagering process employed on this beer seems to make it a little smoother than Guinness Stout. I tasted a lighter malt flavor with the Guinness Black Lager.. The overall feeling of the Draught Board tasters was that the Guinness Black Lager is a very nice beer, but not a great one. It rated out with 4 and 5 bottles under our rating scale.
Chief Bottle Washer
Friday Nov. 11th, 2011 - Weizenbocks
The comparison tasting conducted by the DraughtClub.com this evening was on a selection of 5 Weizenbock beers from both Germany and the United States. Weizenbock beers are described as strong (bock) beers with a pronounced alcohol character made with wheat as a main ingredient. Our selections were the Schneider Aventinus, the Schneider/Brooklyn collaboration Hopfen-Weisse, the Weihenstephaner Vitus, the Scuttlebutt Weizenbock, and the Victory Moonglow Weizenbock. The results of this tasting placed the Schneider/Brooklyn Hopfen-Weisse 1st, the Schneider Aventinus and the Scuttlebutt Weizenbock tied for 2nd, the Victory Moonglow Weizenbock 3rd, and the Weinstephaner Vitus 4th.
The consensus among the Draught Board members gathered for the tasting was that each of these beers had a very unique, yet different flavor. The participants seemed to have very different rankings for them with none of our rankings matching up. In general, tasters described these beers as “middle-of-the-road” rating as them at 3 to 4 bottles in our rating scale. Although the beers had noticeable high alcohol levels, they weren’t considered overly strong. Each exhibited some malt sweetness and wheat tartness. Most of the participants felt that the Weihenstephaner was the sweetest of the group.
My personal rankings had the Schneider Aventinus in 1st, the Victory Moonglow in 2nd, the Schneider/Brooklyn Hopfen-Weisse 3rd, the Scuttlebutt 4th, and the Weihenstephaner 5th. I felt that the Aventinus had the least sweetness, with both mild citrus and hops flavors and was the best overall. The Hopfen-Weisse had the most hops flavor, the Victory tasted the strongest alcohol wise, and the Weinstephaner was the sweetest.
Chief Bottle Washer