Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Bottle Battle Beer Brawl (with Buses)

Not long ago, at Über Tavern, I met one the fellows behind the magic at Bottle Battle.  As he is a fellow beer hiker, we hit it off immediately, but the idea to join forces and do a bottle shop beer hike didn't come to us until several months later.  Great story, I know.

Anyway, after a lot of scheduling negotiations and mapping quandaries,  we arrived at a plan and hit the streets last Friday afternoon.  This is the route we took (green lines = foot, purple = bus):

View Bottle Battle Beer Brawl (North) in a larger map

Following is what my Best Bottle Battle Buddy Friend Forever (BBBBFF) had to say about our adventure. [I'll add my comments in these brackets.]

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
(Courtesy of Mr. Gibson at Bottle Battle)
It was an epic night of battles as we teamed up with Urban Beer Hikes for a three location triple header. Our first stop was at Beer Authority [located in the heart of Lake City.  It's a very cool shop and dog friendly, too.] for a Sierra Nevada Fresh Hop tap tussle.

ABV 6.7%

Color: Clear orange.
Aroma: Sweet malt and lemon rind. 
Flavor: Toasted malt and intense piney bitterness.
Hops vs. Malts (Hoppy, Malty or Balanced): Hoppy
Finish: Intense, long-lasting burnt toast and lemon rind bitterness.
Overall (Fantastic, Good, Mediocre or Bad): Good -

ABV 6.7%

Color: Clear orange with slight red tint.
Aroma: Grassy with some nice citrus.
Flavor: Fresh, grassy hops with good malty sweetness as well.
Hops vs. Malts (Hoppy, Malty or Balanced): Hoppy
Finish: Pleasant mellow bitterness.
Overall (Fantastic, Good, Mediocre or Bad): Good +

Blow by Blow:
We were pleased to find two fresh hop beers from Sierra Nevada on tap so we promptly threw them into the ring together to see who would reign supreme.

Both were served really cold, so it was kind of difficult to decipher the aromas but the Estate clearly had the upper hand. It offered the classic fresh, grassy hops with a nice citrus element as well. The Harvest struggled with its aroma and ended up being mostly sweet toasted malts with some piney hops in the background.

The Estate continued to dominate in the flavor and finish while the Harvest was exposed as a one dimensional bitter bomb without any of the typical fresh hop flavors. We all agreed that if we had tasted the Harvest blind, we probably wouldn't have guessed it was a fresh hop.  [Ellen and Gibson know a lot more about beer than I do, so I just followed their lead.  I liked them both, but the Lompoc C-note I had before was my favorite.]

Winner by unanimous decision: Estate Homegrown.

The second fight on the card featured two bottles purchased at Big Star Beer Market.  The theme: Beers named after tasty marine animals.  [Big Star does not allow drinking on premise.  In addition, they have very little available that's available for sale by single bottle or can.  Our choices beyond Budweiser Chelada were woefully limited.]

ABV 4.8%

Color: ? (We drank from the bottle. Probably dark.)
Aroma: ? (Hard to smell anything through the neck of a bottle.)
Flavor: Cola, chocolate, coffee, earth.
Hops vs. Malts (Hoppy, Malty or Balanced): Balanced
Finish: Bitter lemon and coffee.
Overall (Fantastic, Good, Mediocre or Bad): Mediocre +
ABV 9.5%

Color: ? (We drank from the bottle. Probably amber.)
Aroma: Sweet (We could even smell it through the neck of the bottle.) 
Flavor: Sweet cough syrup with some Belgian yeast characteristics.
Hops vs. Malts (Hoppy, Malty or Balanced): Malty
Finish: Sweet and medicinal.
Overall (Fantastic, Good, Mediocre or Bad): Bad

Blow by Blow:
It was an international duel with Lobster Lovers hailing from Lithuania and Oyster Stout coming from Ireland. They both were feisty even before the fight as the Lobster offered an enticing naked lady/lobster label and the Oyster countered with the novelty of a pull off cap.

In the ring things got ugly quick. The big Lithuanian was sweet and medicinal, just a mess of a beer. We couldn't even finish it. The Oyster Stout won by virtue of being not quite as bad. It had some weird sweet cola flavor that took away from the chocolate and coffee stout flavors.

Winner by unanimous decision: Oyster Stout.

The final battle turned out to be a can clash featuring beers that we purchased at the 85th St. Market, a place with a surprisingly good beer selection and an extremely nice owner named Chuck.  [Can't drink here either.  Yet.  Chuck is working very hard to get license to install taps and serve on premise.  Also not dog friendly, but there is plenty of space outside to hitch up.  This is a fine bottle shop disguised as a run-of-the-mill corner mart.  A neighborhood gem.]

Dexter Decides
Maui Brewing Co.
ABV 4.5%

Color: ? (We drank from the can. Probably light yellow.)
Aroma: ? (Hard to smell anything through the mouth of the can.)
Flavor: Sweet, smooth, creamy and easy drinking. Dave noted that it had tiny bubbles (very Don Ho of it.)
Hops vs. Malts (Hoppy, Malty or Balanced): Malty
Finish: Sweet and malty.
Overall (Fantastic, Good, Mediocre or Bad): Good -
ABV 5.3%
Color: ? (We drank from the can. Probably light yellow.)
Aroma: ? (Hard to smell anything through the mouth of the can.)
Flavor: Crisp, with light citrus hops and some graininess.
Hops vs. Malts (Hoppy, Malty or Balanced): Balanced
Finish: Grain and teeny, tiny bit of citrus hop bitterness.
Overall (Fantastic, Good, Mediocre or Bad): Good -

Blow by Blow:
These beers are meant for hot weather, but we decided to see what they were made of on a mild October night in Seattle.

It kind of turned into a slap fight with a lot of flailing of the arms without much contact. Both beers were predictably simple and didn't offer much more than something to wash down whatever you're eating.

Turns out, Dave and I have different preferences when it comes to simple, session beers. He prefers something a bit sweeter and thus chose the Bikini Blonde, I prefer something with some kind of hop presence so I went with Mama's.

Final note: We rated them both "Good -", but they would probably be rated higher if we tried them on a hot day. They both would definitely be acceptable for a beach or a bbq.

Split decision: I chose the Pils, Dave chose the Lager. (Ellen sat this one out.)

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
The original plan called for a fourth match at Bottleworks, but it just got to be too late for my cohorts.  Link and I did continue on for a nightcap of St. Bernardus Abt. 12, but I was not feeling up to pitting it against anything else and chose rather to just relax and enjoy it.  (Bottleworks, as I've noted in several previous posts, is one of our favorite places.  Central, dog friendly, and somewhat moron tolerant, it's always a great place to visit on an urban beer hike.)

I have nothing else to add.  Thanks to Ellen & Gibson at Bottle Battle.  And thank you for reading.

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