Way back when, in August 2008, we held the second annual Davidson Blind Taste Test, this time with lagers. All you diehard BYC readers will remember the 2007 taste test where we gorged on pizza prior to the over-imbibition of pale ales.
This year, with experience to back us up, we took it easier and planned ahead. We also had the inclusion of Allen, who, though not technically a Davidson, is basically a Davidson. Before dinner, we laid out the wares, giving us a good look at what we were up against. We had a total of 13 beers from eight countries and four states. As the sun extinguished itself in the Atlantic and exploded into blinding and biliously beautiful hues, the ladies once again humored us by taking on the roles of scientists/beer wenches by both keeping the test blind and serving us.
Here are the comments, as best as I can decipher, by number. The legend of corresponding beers to follow.
- Amber. Bitter Ale – Nice texture – not my favorite taste. 75
- Pale – like a wheat beer, somewhat flatter than I like. 80
- Budweiser! Thin – slightly less carbonated. mid-70s
- Very good, nice balance, slightly creamy. 90
- Slightly metallic taste – not distinguished. 75
- Amber – aftertaste of plum & rotting vegetation. 82.5
- Watery – but OK taste. 70-75
- Strangest taste – definitely not like beer. Aftertaste of shellac. 65
- Tasty, zesty, nice carbonation. 85
- Amber – Celery notes, nice carbonation. 88
- Not nice taste – glue-like. 70-75
- Creamy – nice – slightly amber color. 80-82
- Bud. 80
Despite his prodigious vocabulary, Dad kept his answers terse and to the point; it is clear that he likes a beer with a well-crafted mouthfeel and that carbonation is critical. Math not being any of our strengths clearly comes from paternal genes, as he also opted for a range of numbers for some of the scores. That aside, the man knows what he likes and picked numbers 4, 8, and 9 as his top finishers.
- Fruity. Great color. 90
- Light. Finishes smoothly. 75
- Strong head. Full taste. Tangy. (Grolsch) 68
- Very hoppy, heavy. Just OK. 65
- Dry, almost Rheingold-esque. 85
- Complex and fruity like Truman Capote 88
- More like bad tap water than brew. Weak. 60
- Dry. Understated. Enjoyable on a hot dog. 72
- Perky. I’m a fan. 91
- A bit too much molasses, but otherwise outstanding. Full and hearty. 89
- Familiar and friendly [unreadable]
- Sweet but thirst-quenching. Pretty decent. 77
- Blah. 62
The addition of Allen, Max’s best friend, made for a key component in the tasting. Unbiased by any Davidson genetics that may link our scores, Allen was a unique judge. That said, the brevity of his answers made my Dad look like Charles Dickens and his Truman Capote comment was clearly the product of relaxing with a martini before the taste test and after his kids had headed to bed. I also really liked his “Rheingold-esque” comment. Mr. Burton is invited to be a judge at any and all future events. Despite a blank in the scoring on number 11, Allen chose 9, 1, and 10 in a close first, second, and third.
- Great color, great taste. Bit of a sour finish but really solid 84
- Smooth refreshing and distinctly German lager-y 90
- Similar to 2 but not QUITE as good. 88
- Smooth but boring. Good for weenys, ribs, or something tasty and complex 85
- Looks can be deceiving; looks like Bud, but big and full 87
- Very malty, hoppy and unfortunately has some honey to it which ruins any beer, complex and [unreadable]-ridden. 80
- Tastes like Kid Rock’s undershirt, it’s American and it needs to be real cold. 68
- Tastes like the flu, needs to be in bottle and cold. 61
- Very nice – Really solid lager. 85
- Spectacular color and a taste to back it up. Very nice & chocolaty 88
- Very frothy & rich. Solid. 84
- The best beer ever made from Columbus, OH. 76
- Not quite up to snuff. 74
Max’s comments gained some color as the evening wore on, but his scoring was definitely steady. It’s clear he prefers lighter lagers with a good hop bite than those with too many bells and whistles (like honey). I’m not sure what his flu simile was all about, but I know that the Columbus crack was not meant as a compliment either to the state or the beer. Max’s winner was number 2, with a tie between 3 and 10 for second.
- Deliciously smoky. BACON.
- Light and delicious – Bubbly
- Neutral – underachieving
- Aromatic. Tickled the top of my mouth
- Unimpressive at first, tasty but not distinct.
- Boomer – Loses on the last drive.
- Thin and a little flat, goes down easy like a 12-year-old Thai prostitute.
- Bigger body. [Unreadable]
- Smoky, bacony.
- Celery and hoppy. [Unreadable]
- Poor finish
- IOC doping sample
- Samey same.
Even with Will here to help decipher, the scrawl was—in parts—indistinguishable from the doodles at the top of the page. His lack of scores was a bit of a curveball, but at least he wasn’t hopped up on Percocet like the previous year. His comments on number seven were horrendous, but I thought number 12 was particularly clever. His winners’ podium seemed to include 1, 2, and 4 in no particular order.
- Hoppy, floral golden-hued caramel color. Crisp. Brooklyn. 88
- Thin hop, slightly wheaty nose. V. smooth honey notes. 92
- Thinner wheatiness, more hop bitterness. Malt & alcohol not overpowering. 78
- Honey notes, v. clean & golden, mild effervescence, good lace, slight sweetness but finishes malty & smooth. 90
- “Looks American.” Flat(ish), strong lace, great mouthfeel despite effer., honey. Smooth. 87
- Malt & strong hop nose,, strong plum and raisin, meaty mouthfeel @ top of palate. 77
- Clarity is 100%, thin head & eff., maltier & good hop quality but beer tastes mechanical and not well-formed, too thin (Bud). 68
- Cloudy, particles (Czechvar). V. Strong barley tones that overwhelm hoppiness & overpower the palate. 66
- Slightly deeper golden, spicy pepper at first w/ light smoky notes. Some fruit/apple. 90
- Hoppy nose, off-white head with great lace, deep amber hue, clear but deep & dark. Great mouthfeel that finishes a bit thin @ finish. 86
- Great white head, hoppy but more wheat on the nose. V. Drinkable session. 91
- Creamy, great lace, good hop character, good back of mouth, mild taste of greens. 79
- Not much of anything but some mild hop and wheaty malt. 76
My handwriting deteriorated a bit, as did my syntax. I particularly enjoyed the redundancy in number 10 “Great mouthfeel that finishes a bit thin @ finish.” A few of my guesses panned out, of course, I probably wouldn’t have guessed those particular beers if I hadn’t know which 13 we were tasting. It’s clear that by the end, we’d all lost the ability to differentiate between much at all. My winner was 2, with a tie between 4 and 9 to round it out.
The averages are here, along with medals won. I’ve included three stars for each first place finish, two for second, one for third, and one each for second place ties and for each of Will’s unrated selections:
- 84.25 ***
- 84.25 *******
- 80.25 *
- 82.5 *****
- 87.75 *****
- 87.75 ****
Numbers 9 and 10 tie in the lead as a result of averages, with 1 and 2 tied behind them. The Gold Medalist seems to be number 2, with seven medals, followed by number 4 and number 9, with five medals apiece.
Without further ado, here is the key:
- Brooklyn Lager
- Miller High Life
- Gaffel Kolsch
- Flying Dog
- Kronenburg 1664
So, we seemed to be in agreement that Miller High Life was the overall winner, though Spain’s Estrella put up a great performance, along with India’s Kingfisher. Honorable mentions to both Brooklyn and Flying Dog, whose more amber lagers shone through what proved to be a typically flaxen batch of brews. Though there were clear winners, I have to say, I enjoy all of these beers. Some may not have scored so well this time around, but each can be splendid in its own right.
Special thanks to all of our special ladies who made the “blind” portion of the taste test possible. Cheers, girls!