FACEOFF: Battle Of The Midwest Kölsch

As we usher in the unofficial start to a new season, and green-light drinking those fall favorites, we thought we would bid farewell to summer with a good ‘ol fashioned showdown between one of our favorite summer beer styles from a few of our favorite Midwest craft brewers.

We rounded up four different Kölsch’s from four different breweries who’s beers are generally accessible in the Midwest, depending on where you live. While three of the four were brewed true to style, all were unique in their own right – particularly the offering out of Marshall, MI.

Our four contestants; Metropolitan Krankshaft Kölsch (Illinois), Schlafly Kölsch (Missouri), Short’s Kölsch 45 (Michigan) and Dark Horse Kmita Kölsch (Michigan). We paired the Kölsch’s with hot Italian sausage and burgers covered in pepper jack cheese, just for good measure.

Now, before we get into the beers, let’s define a Kölsch so we have a base for this faceoff. For that, we turn to Beer Advocate:

“First only brewed in Köln, Germany, now many American brewpubs and a hand full of breweries have created their own version of this obscure style. Light to medium in body with a very pale color, hop bitterness is medium to slightly assertive. A somewhat vinous (grape-y from malts) and dry flavor make up the rest.”

And now, the Kolsch-off:

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FACEOFF: Craft vs “Domestic” The Adjunct Taste Test

About two months ago I had a chance to sample Short’s Pontius Road Pilsner. Being a lover of all things Short’s I rarely pass up a chance to try even their most of pedestrian of offerings. I mean, not every beer can be a Strawberry Shortscake, right? Besides, I love a good pilsner and was eager to sample Short’s version.

Imagine my surprise when I took a sip and immediately thought, “this tastes like a macrobrew?!?”

Now I don’t mean that in a snobbish, turn my nose up at a beer sort of exclamation. It was more of a, “this tastes kinda sweet like a light beer and is a little watery too.”

I sensed adjunct and according to Short’s description of this beer, I was right (emphasis added).

“A true American style Pilsner where the malted barley, when blended with flaked maize (corn), produce a deliciously distinct flavor. It is light in body and color, with a surprisingly full flavor that gives way to crisp refreshment. Handfuls of hops provide pleasant aromatics and a wonderful dry finish.”

The Pontius Road Pilsner delivered on lightness and crispness, as advertised, which made me wonder; could any of the other Guys tell the difference between this and a macrobrew?

The “Adjunct Taste Test” was born. Continue reading

FACEOFF: Bell’s The Oracle vs Kalamazoo Hopsolution Ale

Bell’s The Oracle vs Kalamazoo Hopsolution Ale
Double IPA vs Double IPA
10.4% ABV vs 8.4% ABV

We haven’t done a faceoff for quite a while, and we love the idea of making beers defend themselves against their similar bretherens. You’ll remember that last time we forced Bell’s Hopslam to go head-to-head against the Troegs Nugget Nectar. Today we’re making Bell’s face off once again, with another contender – itself. Sort of.

The Kalamazoo Brewing Company emerged in Illinois back when Larry Bell yanked all his product out of the Land of Lincoln. We here were sadly Bells-free for a pretty long time, until Bells dipped their toes back into the Illinois market with some semi-Bells beer. The KBC released some pseudo-Bells clones like an “American Unfiltered Wheat Ale,” obviously an Oberon clone, amongst some others.

Karl spoke with Larry back when that happened, which you can read about here . Fast forward to three years later, and Kalamazoo has changed its attitude from “tiding you over” to “Illinois exclusive.” Indeed, the Hopsolution is an IL-only beer and Oracle is available in most of the Midwest…except for Illinois. Somehow we got the two under the same roof – so which state(s) will emerge as the lucky ones? Will we be forcing Illinois to suffer the lack of Oracle? Or will we Chicagoans be sneering at the rest of the Midwest saying “neener-neener, we’ve got the better beer”?

Two different Double IPAs, essentially from the same brewer, for different markets. Who will reign supreme? Let’s find out! Continue reading

FACEOFF: Bell’s Hopslam vs. Troegs Nugget Nectar

From time to time, the staff of Guys Drinking Beer feel it necessary to answer the burning questions of the day. In this spirit we introduce the Faceoff – in a battle between two similar brews, which beer will win? What’s the favorite? What are the differences?

Today, we let two highly-hopped ales battle it out within our innards to determine which one will reign supreme. Bell’s Hopslam versus Troegs Nugget Nectar: Who will win? Read on:

Two beers enter. One beer leaves. (Both beers drank.)

Bell’s Hopslam VERSUS Troegs Nugget Nectar
American IPA VERSUS American Amber / Red Ale
10% ABV VERSUS 7.5% ABV

Sayeth the Guys:

Karl: I have a feeling I’m going to love these face-offs. So many eternal questions are ready to be answered. I’ve always enjoyed Hopslam, with the yearly release of it quite possibly set to surpass my excitement of it becoming Oberon season. But never having had the Nugget (or, at least, not having it stick out in my memory) I was looking forward to seeing how it stands up to one of my personal faves. Continue reading