This blog is the second of a five part series throughout 2010 to compare the 2009 versions of Saint Arnold Seasonal Beers to the 2010 version.
Recall the test parameters. Two identical small beer taster glasses on a coaster with a mark under each to differentiate. Gameday temperature was 43 degrees (for Spring it was 50 degrees, I had the fridge turned up a bit). FWIW, St. Arnold recommends 36 degrees for the Summer Pils. A tasteless wheat cracker to be consumed between all sips. Best of 7 series, World Series, Stanley Cup style. The beers are rotated left and right in circles so many times I lose track.
The first thing I noticed was that the color of the two vintages was noticably different (below). This makes it more difficult to drink the beers. If they are the same color, I can shuffle, then actually look at the beer as I drink it. Here, I had to keep my proverbial blindfold on, reaching for each small snifter and fumbling for crackers in between. Not as ideal, but manageable.
The first round commenced. I thought I tasted a slight difference, but it was slight. Truly, I didn't have a strong preference, but it was a bit different. Decided the first one I had was superior. It was the 2010. A mild win.
The second round continued. They tasted a bit different, but I couldn't line them up with the first round. Or if I thought I did I didn't pick the same one. 2009 was selected. Okay, 1-1 headed to Game 3.
Third round, I'm convinced I'm not going to be able to pick the vintage like the Spring Bock Series. I'm really not picking too much of a difference up. This is surprising given the different hues of the beers. I go for the 2009 again. So it's 2-1, but every game was one run.
Fourth Round, same as the last two. I'm really losing any ability to distinguish. I don't go for multiple tastings as to change parameters. But when I'm done they are just so close. I pick the 2010. Might as well flip a coin.
Fifth Round, Another win for 2010. I'm trying to pick something, SOMETHING out to tell them apart and I can't. Another win for 2010. 3-2 for 2010 now.
Sixth Round, evened up. I choose the 2009. I obviously cannot tell.
Final Round, the 2010 wins a very very small victory. It would probably be 50/50 over 100 (with one passed out taste tester) but we'll call it a day.
Other parameters, I chose the first one 3 times (2 wins for 2009, 1 win for 2010), the second one 4 times (3 wins for 2010, 1 win for 2009). The 2010 was the first beer the first two rounds, the 2009 was first the last five (maybe my pseudorandom rotation was not so random, always even except once).
This is the first contest in which the beer was brewed in different breweries. Kudos for St. Arnold for showing little or no variation. Except color!
Three more to go, (Oktoberfest, Christmas, and Winter). I'm still saving one from each year, so I've got a 2010 Spring and Summer for next year or a special occassion. Oktoberfest is winding down, I've got two on reserve, one for this years taste test, one for 2011's.
In the series of 5, it's a strong win for 2009 (Spring), mild win for 2010 (Summer). Technically 1-1.
The saga continues!