This is the third of four bracket battles between popular (and locally available) session beers. Remember, these four beers were randomly poured into four different glasses. I then chose two of the four glasses randomly to drink. I selected which one I liked best. Then, I tasted the other two remaining beers, and picked a winner from those two. I then took the two “winners” and had those beers square off against one another for one overall winner from the four beers.
Here are some pictures of the Hamburg regional participants.
The third regional battle included the following four beers (Beeradvocate.com rating in parentheses).
- Captain Lawrence Effortless: 4.5%, (85)
- Stone Go To: 4.5%, (89)
- Ballast Point Even Keel: 3.8% (86)
- Otter Creek Over Easy: 4.6% (87)
The first pairing was between Otter Creek Over Easy and Stone Go To. Otter Creek Over Easy is made with Amarillo, Mosaic, and Cascade hops. Otter Creek Over Easy poured a light straw color and was a bit hazy. Stone Go To is brewed with more hop varieties, including El Dorado, Citra, Mosaic, Crystal, Cascade, Sterling, and a bit of Magnum. If I had to grant an award for the most stand-out session of this bunch, I would give that award to Stone Go To. However, in comparison to Otter Creek Over Easy, I found Stone Go To to be a bit more one-dimensional. I did not get any real sense of blending and depth with the Stone Go To as compared to the Captain Lawrence. I found the Stone Go To to be very bitter and their “hop bursted” technique (which is definitely a good thing) bursted just a little too much for me and affected overall drinkability of this beer. This winner of this battle and potentially an “upset” (although all of these beers are top notch sessions) is Otter Creek Over Easy.
The second pairing was between Ballast Point Even Keel and Captain Lawrence Effortless. Captain Lawrence Effortless had a pleasant aroma and smelled very fresh and vibrant. Captain Lawrence Effortless is brewed with Cascade, Mosaic, Palisade and Tomahawk hops. Ballast Point Even Keel poured a bit darker, but completely clean, compared to Captain Lawrence Effortless. I found Ballast Point Even Keel to be exceptionally balanced and and blended in terms of hop and malt flavor. Ballast Point Even Keel also had a pleasurable citrus flavor as well, derived from six different hop strains loaded into this meager 3.8% ABV beer. The winner of this battle was Ballast Point Even Keel, owing largely to the hop aroma and overall balance.
Ballast Point Even Keel then squared off against Otter Creek Over Easy for the Hamburg regional championship. I jotted down two (groundbreaking and incredibly deciding, of course) notes on my tasting paper that read “hazy” and “nice full-favored swallow” for Otter Creek Over Easy. For Ballast Point Even Keel, I wrote down “smells great!”, “completely clear” and “extremely drinkable”. I should also mention that Ballast Point Even Keel is the ONLY beer of the entire 16 session beers in this tournament to weigh in UNDER 4% ABV. That’s quite interesting, and indicates that making a good session beer is not always about creeping near the 5% ABV ceiling. Ballast Point Even Keel was able to cram a ton of flavors with no real effect due to lower alcohol content of their beer. And for all the reasons listed above, Ballast Point Even Keel is the winner of the Hamburg session beer regional! This also marks the second CAN that has advanced to the final four.
Congratulations to Ballast Point Even Keel, the winner of the Hamburg Region. This beer will advance to meet 21st Amendment Down To Earth in a can battle to determine which beer moves onto the final beer battle.
Here is what the 2015 Session IPA bracket looks like following the Hamburg regional battles. Next up will be the last regional bracket, the Cheektowaga regional. Check back soon for participants and results.