Saturday, December 4, 2010

Tap Tussle — Full Sail vs. Hopworks Urban Brewery (HUB)

Full Sail Wassail blended with
Bourbon Barrel Porter

ABV ?%

Smoke, malt, chocolate.
Acidity up front. Smooth, creamy, fruity and dry.
Hops vs. Malts (Hoppy, Malty or Balanced):
Mild bittersweet chocolate.
Overall (Fantastic, Good, Mediocre or Bad):

HUB Kentucky Christmas
(Abominable Winter Ale aged in Bourbon Barrels)
ABV ?%

Deep, reddish brown/orange.
Aroma: Sweet and very floral with a bit of oak and citrus hops.
Flavor: Floral honey with some pine notes.
Hops vs. Malts (Hoppy, Malty or Balanced): Hoppy
Finish: Toasted coconut and some distinct bitterness and tannins.
Overall (Fantastic, Good, Mediocre or Bad): Good +

Blow by Blow
We held this battle at the Bigwood beer event at Brouwer's Cafe in Seattle. Bigwood offers a serious selection of some of the biggest and baddest barrel-aged beers around, thus providing us with an ideal spot for a tap tussle.

We chose two beers that were aged or partially aged in bourbon barrels. As you can see from the photo, they were completely different styles. The HUB beer was more of a big, malty IPA and the Full Sail was a blend of dark beers. They both had great aromatics with the HUB featuring strong floral notes and the Full Sail countering with great fruity chocolate aromas. The flavors followed suit, with each one expanding on the aroma. We didn't detect any bourbon or oak in the Full Sail, however the HUB did have a nice touch of oak and even some tannins in the finish that were probably a result of the oak aging. It was an excellent duel, but in the end the Full Sail just couldn't match the bright and bold qualities of the HUB.

Both of the combatants were special release beers that are definitely worthy of seeking out at their respective pubs in Hood River and Portland or good taphouses in the Northwest. Bigwood is also a worthy event, however it sure would be a lot better if they'd offer smaller pours so that people could try more beers. I know this is a dish washing nightmare but I think it would be worth their time and effort as many people would be willing to spend more money for the opportunity to try more beers.

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