Friday, January 13, 2012

Brown Bag Blind Tasting by the Better Beer Society

Brown Bag Bling Tasting flyer
from BBS Facebook page

When I saw the info on the Better Beer Society's very first function and that it was a blind tasting featuring the components of beer, it was hard to resist. Add some recently added beer friends, and there's the makings of a great beer day.

Held a Stub and Herb's, I showed up a bit early and got a seat in the enclosed patio.  As it turned out, the event was very well attended and spilled over into the entire first level of the bar.  Brunch was first and a small adjustment made it vegetarian.  From the BBS Facebook page, here's what I ate minus the salmon.

1. Spinach salad w/ raspberry vinaigrette, candied walnuts, goat cheese, mandarin oranges and Granny Smith apples.

2. Salmon eggs benedict w/ hollandaise.

3. Chocolate chip pancakes, with house made banana syrup and walnuts.

4. Raisin bread pudding
Brunch at Blind Tasting from BBS Facebook post

We received three numbered samples of beer with brunch, but didn't get any direction as to which beer matched which dish (at least that we heard).  Experimentation put #7 (Flying Dog Woody Creek Witbier) with the pancakes, #12 (Franziskaner Dunkelweizen) with eggs benedict and #20 (Summit Oatmeal Stout) with the raspberry vinaigrette.  All were well paired, though the meal was light. Because we ate early, it was a long time to the first beer but worth the wait.

Ten additional samples came for free with the initial $25 price, and having three in our group (thanks Heather and Scott!) was the perfect number to cover all 27 samples on the day without having to buy any extra.  We traded off punches for beers, and each ended with one or two left on each card.

Samples came out one at a time--slightly chaotic but the job got done.  Both BBS and S&H's staff worked hard to get beer to everyone. I had chosen the end of a table expressly for easy access to the servers, which worked out well.  Each category introduction listed all of the styles in the flight, which made guessing much easier and the process of elimination was fun.

Samples with punch card
Scoring for the grand prize (twelve cases of beer over twelve months) was one point for matching the style and five points for guessing the exact beer name.  Chatting through the samples, we quickly put numbers on a napkin and left a bit in each glass to taste when we had most/all of the beers.  Using my phone to look up style lists on BA, we all made guesses.  Two guys with the same last name that looked like brothers tied for first place with 41 points.  To my surprise, I received an honorable mention for coming in next with 40 points.  I guessed on beer names a few more times, which was the difference from my drinking partners.  Five points was clearly credited to Heather for Saison Dupont, which I would not have gotten.  And, sadly, three opportunities for points were missed by me.  I clearly recognized the Flying Dog Horn Dog, but wrote Sierra Nevada Bigfoot.  Also, I've recently had two growlers of Harriet's West Side Belgian IPA and shouldn't have confused Flying Dog Raging Bitch for it.  Also, we wrote the styles down wrong on the last hop section, and didn't record a Double IPA and lost a point on that as well.  But the fine guys at BBS handed me a set of four glasses from Artisanal Imports as a nice consolation prize to go along with the bragging rights.
Second place prize

For a first event, the Better Beer Society did a great job.  Drinking with two other teachers, we were reorganizing the recording sheet, naturally, to be easier to use.  The brunch was stretched over a long period for the group, and we were very hungry later in the day.  Had I been drinking all of the samples alone, it would've been far too light.  Seats were crowded and uncomfortable, especially since we didn't leave until nearly 4 pm from an 11 am start.  With those small caveats, the rest of the day was really enjoyable.  Food was good, especially the the bread pudding.  Beer was well served and never an off flavor in spite of the sample glasses.  When the list was revealed (see below), I thought the choice of beers represented the range of each category extremely well.  After years of sampling, I can almost tell what a beer is going to be like from the website, the bottle art or the first sniff.  It was refreshing to taste beer like when I was new to the hobby, knowing little to nothing of what was in front of me and just concentrating on the taste and characteristics.

As the BBS guys added up the scores, we ordered a cheese and meat plate while I drank my only pint on the afternoon, intriguing number 27: Steel Toe Rainmaker.  Overall, a great afternoon of learning for a full house of beer geeks and newbies.  I look forward to the next Better Beer Society event that I can attend.

From Facebook page for Better Beer Society
BBS guys working hard
Brown Bag Taplist (Series #1)

1. 21st Amendment Bitter American (Ordinary Bitter)
2. Tallgrass English Mild Ale
3. Anchor Steam (Steam Beer)
4. Kostritzer Schwarzbier
5. O'Hara's Irish Stout
6. Sunner Kolsch
7. Flying Dog Woody Creek Witbier

8. Saison Dupont
9. La Chouffe (Belgian Blonde)
10. St. Feuillien Tripel
11. Pere Jacques (American style Dubbel)
12. Franziskaner Dunkelweizen
13. Surly V (American Wild Ale)

14. Celebrator Doppelbock
15. Flying Dog Horn Dog (English style Barleywine)
16. Hacker-Pschorr Munich Gold (Helles lager)
17. Claymore Scotch Ale
18. Avery Ellie's Brown (American Brown)
19. Fulton Libertine (Imperial Red Ale)
20. Summit Oatmeal Stout

21. Alaskan Black IPA
22. Victory Prima Pils (German pils)
23. Great Lakes Commodore Perry (English IPA)
24. Lagunitas Olde Gnarleywine (American style Barleywine)
25. Odell Myrcenary (Double IPA)
26. Harriet Westside IPA (Belgian style IPA)
27. Steel Toe Rainmaker (Imperial Red)

1 comment:

  1. Sounds like fun, wished I could have made it. Hats off to Rob and BBS!