Monday, October 29, 2012

Autumn Beers — MacTarnahan's vs. Pyramid

MacTarnahan's Noble Scot
Scottish Ale  
ABV 6.5%

Pyramid Oktoberfest
(Autumn Lager)
ABV 6.7%

If you're anything like us, your drinking preferences change with the seasons. When the weather starts to turn we start to reach for beers that focus on the sweeter, maltier side of the taste spectrum. These two beers fit the bill as both Scottish Ales and Oktoberfest Lagers tend to be sweet, malty and perfect for crisp autumn imbibing.

The combatants for this battle are from two of the larger "craft" breweries in the northwest. Pyramid is headquartered in Seattle but has taprooms up and down the west coast while MacTarnahan's is located in Portland.

Right from the outset it was a tight battle. Both beers were almost identical in color with the Noble Scot being a bit darker. The aromas were very similar as well, mostly sweet smelling with caramel and honey notes. It was in the flavor that we finally were able to detect a noticeable difference. The Noble Scot had a touch of citrus while the Oktoberfest was richer and more full bodied. Both finished very sweet and malty but the Noble Scot had a little zip of citrus and a touch of bitterness as well.

This proved to be one of the tougher battles we've hosted. Neither beer was outstanding but both were good. We were also quite surprised at how similar they were. Given that one was an ale and one was a lager we thought it would be fairly easy to tell the difference. Not so. Just goes to show that you can make very similar beers with very different yeasts and fermentation temperatures.

After much discussion we chose the Oktoberfest mostly because we preferred its mouthfeel and richness over the slightly more simple Noble Scot. Try one or both with a nice hearty stew or a brat and some kraut.

Unanimous Decision: Pyramid Oktoberfest

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