Friday, November 12, 2010

Gents 10 - Showdown: Bell's v. Breckenridge

I saw the case being wheeled across the floor of McCoy's into the Cigar Room where we were standing around finishing up the KC Gents meeting. We didn't know what to expect and when it was opened, we immediately knew what was in the case in "Pulp Fiction".
We started off the tenth meeting of Gents, the one with the most participants yet, with a sub meeting at The Riot Room. I hadn't actually been there since it was the Hurricane and that was 15 years ago so I can't tell you what changed. But, the taps have definitely changed. The bar is a circle of greatness requiring you to walk all the way around it t decide what you want. I went with Founders Breakfast Stout. But, I could have had Schlafly Biere de Garde, Avery Maharaja or New Belgium Sahti or any number of great beers. Chimpotle, McCoy, Paul A. Ner and Yeti were already there and enjoying various great beers. When Duff showed up a couple of minutes after me we were the only 6 people in the place at 6:30. They had a local show at 9 so no one had shown up yet. We basically had the place to ourselves, it was almost like we were the gang in "It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia" and we acted as such.

After our beers were finished we made our way to our reserved room, the Cigar Room, at McCoy's where JJSKCK, Nate and Ozbrau were already waiting. We ordered dinner and rod_leviathan and Danner showed up. I had the chicken fried steak special which was $7.99 and simply wonderful. It really hit the spot. A favorite among the gathered Gents was the fish and chips, at least 5 people ordered that. Sadly, I think 3 people had the chicken fingers, which are apparently delicious, but, for me, seem like child food. Then the showdown started; Breckenridge v. Bells.

The Scores
Bell's Two Hearted Ale 11 - Breckenridge Lucky U IPA 0 
Breckenridge Avalanche 7 - Bell's Amber 4
Breckenridge Oatmeal Stout 7 - Bell's Kalamazoo Stout 4
Bell's Porter 9 - Breckenridge Vanilla Porter 2
Bell's 25th Anniversary 7 - Breckenridge After Rakin' Autumn 4


The issue was still nominally in doubt before we got to the big beer matchup. Of course we didn't know that at the time because we were tasting these things blind. We had a pretty good idea that it was Two Hearted that went unanimous and the porter's were easily distinguished. The vanilla in the Breckenridge was really flavor forward and everyone agreed it was a good porter, but only Paul A. Ner and  me voted for it. When the beers were named many in the room were surprised that Avalanche beat Bell's Amber pretty soundly. There was a time in the late '90's that Breckenridge Avalanche was my favorite beer, back before I liked IPA's or had that many different styles of beer. I still like it and look forward to a blind tasting of Avalanche v. Boulevard Amber.

Bell's Hopslam 11 - Breckenridge Small Batch 471 0
This is certainly not an indictment of Small Batch 471, it just went against one of the best beers in the world. This matchup is analogous to the best tennis player you know facing Roger Federer. Your guy doesn't have a chance. Small Batch 471 is your guy. The only problem is 471 costs pretty close to the same thing as Hopslam . If you ever have a choice between the two (and you won't except for 2 weeks out of the year) you're a fool if you pick the Small Batch 471.

Bell's was the big winner of the showdown 5 -2 (57 votes to 20). Bell's was a pretty safe bet to win this one, but that's what we thought about Great Divide v. Schlafly. That's why we play the game.

Then we broke out the big beers and out of market beers. We had some Odell Deconstruction which Paul A. Ner highly recommended and I must agree with his assessment. That was phenomenal. Bell's 9000, though, was my favorite of the night. Nate said it reminded him of Raison d'Extra from Dogfish Head. I'd never had the Raison d'Extra but I love Raison d'Etre and I could definitely taste that flavor in the Bell's 9000. I'd love to have some of that on hand at all times. Danner brought some Van Twee, a collaboration between Bell's and DeProef. Van Twee is a Belgian dark ale which has a little bit of the Belgian farm funk with some cherry and heavy malt flavor. Just great. We also had some Boulevard Dubbel, a test brew from Boulevard, that had a real heavy licorice flavor. Dark Truth was passed around as well as a Bourbon Barrel Quad (which seems to be the official beer of Gents, it's made an appearance at nearly every one of our gatherings). Danner even brought me a Danner Nutcracker and I was heartbroken later when I found that someone drank it. We mixed up a batch of Gents Kollaboration #3 which tasted like a chocolate ale, it was really quite good. I wish we'd have written down the recipe.

Gents Kollaboration #3

Then Eans showed up with a bottle of '09 Harvest Dance that was simply wonderful. It was a lot better with the year of aging. I kind of can't wait to open mine up at Thanksgiving. I had a generous pour of Dogfish Head Palo Santo Marron which isn't my favorite Dogfish Head Beer, but it's a nice example of a pretty good wood aged beer. Midas Touch also touched some glasses, but not mine because I'm not a fan. Stone Oaked Arrogant Bastard made an appearance, I don't think I got a taste.

JJSKCK's traditional order of milk and cookies
Then Fancypantsbeer showed up. He was just getting into town from Chicago and he sat and talked with us awhile. I lost track of where he was and next thing I know, I see him pulling his suitcase across the floor of McCoy's towards us. We all gathered around to see what he had. And then we saw inside, loaded like guns in foam with bottle cutouts, Mikkeler Chipotle Porter, Goose Island Night Stalker, Three Floyds Moloko Plus, Three Floyds BrooDoo and Hitachino Nest Nipponia. We only had a small segment of the Gents left and 5 bottles to drink. We got it done. The Chipotle Porter, which sounds pretty awful, was excellent with a nice little pepper and smoky flavor. I should have made a bigger effort to get some Night Stalker when it was available in town a couple of months ago. Three Floyds Moloko Plus was a simply fabulous milk stout. The Broo Doo, a harvest ale, makes the Breckenridge Harvest seem like a crime was committed. It's really a shame we don't have access to Three Floyds. Hitachino Nest Nipponia, yeah, I don't remember if I had it or not.

Being a part of this Gents must be what it's like to be John Mayer's wang. We had some of the best beers available in the US, like John Mayer's wang has been a part of some of the finest ladies in the US. I fear Gents 11.

5 comments:

  1. I'm convinced the milk and cookies prevented mine.

    That, and the fact that I was pouring about 1 oz. of beer from the Kollaboration on.

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  2. Like the scores. But the Porter match-up is a tough one. Bells was the first Bells I fell in love with so it has sentimental significance but the BB Vanilla is pretty darn good too.
    And I too remember when the BB was one of the first craft beers I fell in love with way, way back in the day when the 750's were still called Bombers.

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  3. I think Moloko might have climbed into my top 5 overall. Hard to judge without having easier access to it, but it was fantastic

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  4. Golly gee whiz: sorry I missed such a great tasting event. Was this a planned occasion? I dream about Hopslam on an infrequent basis...

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