Thursday, August 6, 2009

The Homebrew Challenge

The other day, after re-reading my last post, I started thinking - wouldn't it be cool to test people and see if they could tell the difference between homebrew and commercial beer? And also see which they prefer to drink? So I invented the "Homebrew Challenge," a blind taste test between my homemade creations and commercial samples of the same style!

Last night I invited over the first victims: my good friend Jerome and his cousin Randy who is visiting for the week and has never tried homemade beer before. I pitted my Toasted Lager against Yuengling's Traditional Lager, a reasonably well respected commercial offering in the same category: American Amber Lager. According to the US Open Beer Championship website "American-style amber lagers are amber, reddish brown, or copper colored. They are medium bodied. There is a noticeable degree of caramel-type malt character in flavor and often in aroma. This is a broad category in which the hop bitterness, flavor, and aroma may be accentuated or may only be present at relatively low levels, yet noticeable. Fruity esters, diacetyl, and chill haze should be absent."

Neither contestant had tasted my lager yet, and they didn't know what commercial beer it would be paired with. I told them to give away 5 total points (split between the two beers) for each of the 5 following categories: aroma, appearance (color, clarity, and head retention), flavor (malt/hop balance, carbonation, and aftertaste), body, and drinkability/overall impression. The end results? An all-around win for homebrew! My Toasted Lager scored very well in all categories, especially flavor and body. The clarity of the Yuengling surpassed my homebrew, but my head retention and the story it left behind on the glass won me that category.

Jerome, having tasted some of my beers before, was able to identify the homebrew after the first sip, saying "it's less refined, but not in a bad way." He then pointed at the Yuengling and said "The way this comes across is almost watery." I took a video of the tasting, but unfortunately it was a bit dark and didn't come out that well - I will post more video content after the next "Challenge," but here is a stillframe of Jerome holding up the two brews:

Cheers, buddy! Thanks to Jerome and Randy for taking part in the "Homebrew Challenge." I invite anyone else who's interested to stop by and taste the difference!

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