January 25, 2009

Double Blind

As soon as Monty mentioned that he was brewing up a batch of his coffee stout at the same time that we were producing the 2JB version of his recipe, I knew that we'd have to do a side-by-side tasting.

So on a cold Sunday afternoon, Monty came to the door with a six-pack and Nahum brought his whole clan over to the 2JB Annex. In the interest of getting a solid blind taste-test going (and keeping Nahum's kids interested), we had the young'uns choose between a Bugs Bunny and a Daffy Duck glass for decanting a bottle of each brew.

Once the beers were indistinguishable (though Monty suspected his would be visibly less carbonated; I don't think that happened) our wives each tipped back a sip from one of the glasses.

Then they switched and tried the other.

Nahum's wife Sarah picked her favorite, as did my wife Eileen. The kids lifted the double-blind and it turned out that Sarah had preferred the 2JB bevvie for its heavier stout flavor, and Eileen had favored Monty's more pronounced coffee flavor (she's less of a stout fan than Sarah is).

Then we men-folk took our turns, and pretty much agreed with what the gals had tasted: Monty had a more-coffee/less-beery bottle of brew, with noticeably less stout; and the 2JB product was heavier, slightly more carbonated, with less pronounced coffee overall.

The most interesting part, though, was seeing how much variation there was between two beers born of roughly the same recipe. We'd each gotten our hands on a couple of slightly different ingredients (especially the hops, which clearly have a major impact on the final flavoring) and approached them a bit differently (I think we put in less coffee; Monty had a more skilled hand with racking his beer and leaving the sediment behind), leading to noticeably different beers.

After cracking open a few more bottles and spending another hour or so sippin' and chattin', we agreed on a winner: everyone who'd gotten to sample either (or both) of these very tasty coffee stouts.

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