Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Imperial Stouts — Sierra Nevada vs. Green Flash

2012 Sierra Nevada
Narwhal Imperial Stout 
ABV 10.2%

Green Flash
Double Stout
(Black Ale)
ABV 8.8%

I've been a Narwhal enthusiast for some time now. As a graphic designer for Archie McPhee I helped with the concept and design of the infamous Avenging Narwhal Play Set (now available in a slightly lesser version here). I even wrote a children's picture book called Do Narwhals Have Blowholes? So you can imagine my excitement at seeing the image of a Narwhal staring at me from the shelves at our local bottle shop. The fact that it was an imperial stout made it even more compelling. After finding a suitable competitor in the Green Flash Double Stout the battle was on.
The Green Flash was very nice with roasty chocolate and coffee notes mixed with a slight hop spiciness in the aroma. The flavor continued with the same roasted chocolate malt and coffee characteristics. It finished sweet and malty with a mild bitterness to round things out.
The Narwhal was a whole different beast. It smelled very fruity and sweet with some noticeable harsh alcohol aromas and a bit of vanilla. The flavor was very sweet, a bit syrupy and somewhat soapy while the finish was sweet, boozy and harshly bitter.
I was pulling for the Narwhal the whole time but in the end even my extreme bias could not propel the Narwhal to victory. The Green Flash was just a better beer, more balanced, more nuanced, more enjoyable. I haven't lost all hope though. I have stashed a bottle of Narwhal in my beer cellar in the hopes that some time in the bottle will transform it into a magical beer worthy of its name. I'm giving you another chance Narwhal, don't let me down...  

Unanimous Decision: Green Flash Double Stout

Friday, January 11, 2013

Auburn Alehouse Trio

Auburn Alehouse
PU 240 Imperial IPA
ABV 8%

Auburn Alehouse
Fool's Gold Pale Ale
ABV 7.0%

Auburn Alehouse
Gold Digger IPA
ABV 7.8%

During our Christmas celebration with my parents in the Bay Area my dad brought out these three beers from Auburn Alehouse located a bit north of Sacramento. He poured three tasters for me and three for him and before we knew it we had a Bottle Battle on our hands. I love a spontaneous battle, especially when it involves beers from a brewery I've never tried! It was also an informal Bottle Battle as we didn't bother taking notes so excuse the vague descriptions.

We both were impressed by all three beers. The Fool's Gold was very solid with plenty of hops from the aroma through the finish. I do remember that it had some macrobrew grain aromas as well which I'm never too keen on, but nothing too bad. The Gold Digger was even better with a gorgeous hop aroma followed by a nice balance of malt and hops in the flavor and a moderate bitterness in the finish. Based on the excellent hop profile of those first two beers we both had high hopes for the PU 240. As expected, it was a malty hop bomb and my dad loved it. I liked it as well, but in the end felt that the Gold Digger was just a bit more balanced.

Thanks to my dad for introducing me to yet another hopcentric craft brewery on the west coast, and thanks to Auburn Alehouse for three excellent beers. We'll be sure to make a pilgrimage to their alehouse next time we head down I-5!
Split Decision: I chose the Gold Digger, pops chose the PU 240