Friday, July 23, 2010

Showdown - Boulevard V. Odell

We got the group together again for a battle, a battle of titans, a battle that would be at the forefront of all battles if Kansas wasn't between the 2, a battle between Boulevard and Odell. We started with a simple premise, 5 beers of the same style being tasted blind by our group of khaki short clad beer drinkers with one big beer from each brewery. Each taster gets a vote on each style and the brewery with the most votes for that style gets a point. The big beer challenge is worth 2 points. The styles were Wheat, Amber, Pale Ale, IPA and Porter. The big beers were Saboteur and Rye on Rye. The participants were myself, Chimpotle, JJSKCK, Duff, Paul A. Ner, Yuengling and Yeti (who did the pouring). The snacks were pretzels and 2 slabs of RJ's Bob-Be-Que now world famous lamb ribs (courtesy of Yuengling who works at RJ's) which, incidentally, are wonderful.

The Scores
Odell Easy Street Wheat 4 - Boulevard Wheat 3
Boulevard Amber 7 - Odell Levity Amber 0
Odell 5 Barrel Pale Ale 4 - Boulevard Pale Ale 3
Odell IPA 5 - Boulevard Single Wide IPA 2
Odell Cutthroat Porter 5 - Boulevard Bully! Porter 2

After the session beers were done Odell was already the winner of the night 4 styles to 1. But, the vote totals were close at 18 to 17. We had some discussion as to what the proper scoring system should be and decided that the style score should be the one to decide the winner. But, Boulevard was a very clear and decisive victor in the Amber category. The Boulevard Amber is that good, there was no hemming or hawing of votes on that one and the victory was decisive. It should also be noted that nearly every one of us knew which beer was which just because we'd all drank so much Boulevard. I was quite surprised that Boulevard Wheat did not win its pairing and the deciding vote was cast by Yeti who knew, without a doubt, which one was which. The IPA was the only one that I didn't know which beer was which and I was quite surprised that Odell's IPA was much much hoppier than the Boulevard variety. Once again, we were hit over the head with the fact that when drinking blind, we really don't like Bully! Porter and I'm struggling to figure out what's up with that.

Saboteur V. Rye on Rye
We chose Rye on Rye because Yuengling had a couple and offered them up. I haven't had a Rye on Rye since our first tasting party. I'm happy to say that it's mellowed a little with 6 months of aging. I'm embarassed to say I thought I was drinking Rye on Rye when I was drinking Saboteur. They're not even the same style. Saboteur is a barrel aged brown ale with brettanomyces (never has a yeast been this popular, it seems like it gets billing in every beer, no other yeast gets billing) and Rye on Rye is, obviously, a rye beer. But, the 2 are very similar, especially with the bottle of Rye on Rye being 6 months old. They both have that barrel aging rasp at the back of your throat and taste similar. The Saboteur got 5 votes to Rye on Rye's 2, but everyone agreed that both are fantastic and depended on whether you like rye over brett.

Odell came out with a rather decisive victory 6-1 (remember the big beers count for 2) but I think it was much closer than that kind of like a 20-7 football game where the last TD of the winner was a pick-6 in the other end zone. After the organized festivities were over we played raid Yeti's fridge. I grabbed one of the leftover Odell IPA's only to be disgusted by my choice when Yeti showed me had a Frambozen. I was afraid Chimpotle and I were going to have to fight for it, he has a 150 lb. weight advantage on me after all and the only fighting skill I have is wrestling. Luckily, we were able to agree to share it. A bottle of Sixth Glass was also opened and like a bunch of pervs we sat down to watch some under 19 girls World Cup soccer action.

We're going to do 3 more showdowns of yet to be determined breweries. The breweries have to match at least 4 styles. Then the winners will meet up in another round until we determine a brewery winner. You may think it would be a good idea to do a double elimination tournament, but if we did that we wouldn't be able to declare a winner until the Fall of 2015. It took 66 emails between 8 people to get this one done. Let us know in comments the showdowns you'd like us to do. We already have an idea of the 6 breweries we'd like to do but would gladly take suggestions.


  1. Ok, really looking forward to trying the Boulevard Amber after a 7-0 victory.

    I think it's interesting that the Boulevard IPA lost. Typically in tastings, the more flavorful beer will win the tasting -- which for an IPA would the hoppier one -- but most of the reasons I think so many people like the Boulevard IPA is because it is less hoppy than so many of the over-hopped IPAs.

    The Bully Porter is clearly the weak link in Boulevard's portfolio -- although, Porter has never realy been my favorite beer.

    If you haven't done a Schlafley vs Boulevard tasting, that would be a good one to do (the battle for Missouri). I also think adding one for Bell's would be awesome too if you can get enough of their different varieties in town to pull it off.

  2. I had never had either Amber before Wednesday. My observation was that the Odell was definitely more flavorful; I just didn't like the flavors it was selling. Boulevard Amber was smooth and easy-drinking. Good, solid summer beer. Someone mentioned it's another good gateway beer, and I agree.

    We started by sort of voting for the lesser of two evils. As the night went on we almost wanted to give courtesy 1/2 votes to the beer we liked less because they were really good. I think Bully! is a good beer; my palate just prefers the Cutthroat.

  3. Good post. I don't care what your next showdown is, I just want to get on the invitation list!

  4. I love these round table beer night reviews you post. I don't do a lot of head to head comparisons, so when you do something like the porters (where I have had both) I find it interesting.

    Anyway, keep up the good work. Your findings may not change the way I drink, but they do push me to try something new sometimes.

  5. great post! Loved this showdown, having just found Odells on my last trip out to Denver when I tried their 90 shilling brown and enjoyed it.

    Would have never guessed the great wheat defeat! i'm not usually interested in many wheats other than boulevard, so i'll have to pick up a six pack of the odells next time i'm out for a summer weekend drink.

    Can't wait to try the boulevard amber out.