Monday, May 16, 2011

Beers That Feature Old Diving Helmets on the Lable — Diamond Knot Brewing Co. vs. Maritime Pacific Brewing Co.

Diamond Knot Brewing Co.
Industrial India Pale Ale

ABV 8.1%

Slightly hazy orangish amber.
Herbal, rosemary, pine, earthy soil, camp fuel and papaya.
Savory, root vegetables, herbs and piny hops.
Hops vs. Malts
(Hoppy, Malty or Balanced):
Finish: Harsh, piny and long-lasting.
Overall (Fantastic, Good, Mediocre or Bad):
Mediocre +

Maritime Pacific Brewing Co.
Decompression Ale
ABV 8.0%

Crystal clear reddish amber.
Aroma: Sweet roasted malts, touch of citrus and pine.
Flavor: Floral, perfumey hops, toasted bread and a bit of sulfur.
Hops vs. Malts (Hoppy, Malty or Balanced): Hoppy
Finish: Extremely harsh, burnt, ashy bitterness.
Overall (Fantastic, Good, Mediocre or Bad): Mediocre +

Blow by Blow

In anticipation and celebration of the upcoming Seattle Beer Week (May 19th -29th) we decided to feature the official beer of the 2011 Seattle Beer Week in this week’s battle. Each year the organizers of SBW choose a different brewery to brew the official beer and this year they chose Maritime Pacific Brewing in Ballard. The good folks at Maritime decided to brew a strong ale called Decompression ale. The label features an image of a diver in an old diving helmet being groped by a tentacled beast. While perusing the beer aisle I stumbled across another beer featuring an old diving helmet on the label, Diamond Knot’s Industrial India Pale Ale. Two beers with diving helmets? Why not? Let’s battle.

Ellen poured the beers so that I could taste them blind and after trying both I thought it was obvious which one was the double IPA and which one was the strong ale. Apparently it wasn’t so obvious, because I was wrong.

Turns out, the Decompression is a seriously hoppy beer that could easily qualify as a double IPA. In our opinion, a high alcohol beer that relies on hops as its main flavor component should be called a double IPA if only to clue people in on what to expect when they taste the beer. Strong ale just doesn’t really give much information that you can’t see for yourself if you look at the alcohol content.

Style rant aside, the Decompression was not really to our liking. The aroma featured floral, perfumy hops with some toasted bread and sulfur mixed in. The flavor started pretty decent with some of that hop candy quality that we like, but quickly degraded into an acidic, harsh, spicy, bitter hoppiness that foreshadowed a wickedly bitter, burnt, ashy finish.

The Diamond Knot really wasn’t much better. The aroma was bizarrely complex with notes of rosemary, pine, earthy soil, camp fuel and papaya. It was nice to be able to detect something other than the typical citrus/pine/floral qualities we find in most double IPAs, but it really was just too weird to get excited about. The flavor followed suit with a savory, root vegetable quality along with some herbs and piny hops. The finish was not quite as harshly bitter as the Decompression, but it still wasn’t very pleasant and stayed with us for awhile.

Since we didn’t really care for either of the beers it was a tough call to pick a winner, but in the end we both chose the Diamond Knot because it wasn’t quite as harsh going down.

Winner by unanimous decision: Diamond Knot Brewing Company

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