This blog is the third 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 for the Okt was 42.8 degrees. FWIW, St. Arnold recommends 40 degrees for the Oktoberfest. A tasteless cracker to be consumed between all sips to clear the palate. Best of 7 series, World Series, Stanley Cup style. The beers are rotated left and right in circles so many times I lose track, then sipped and winner chosen.

Unlike the Summer Pils, the two beers were identical in color. This is the second test that involved beers from the two distinct breweries, a novice like me appreciates the challenge in matching the hue over two locations.
Locked and Loaded, let's get it on!

The first round was executed. I thought I really tasted no difference. Which surprised me, because it was a flavorful beer. Even a year of aging could have distinguished them, but it didn't. I took the one on the right, turned out to be the 2010.

Second round, again, really couldn't tell. It can be tough to drink them back to back (even with the cracker in between) and find anything different. Spring Bock I could, Summer, a little bit. But this was really close. Again, I chose the one on the right, this time the 2009. Might be "last impressions" tilting this. 1-1 headed to Game 3.

Third round, I go with the one on the right again. Turns out to be 2009. I'm not really telling a difference, but to control the test, I don't re-sip, I just have to decide.

Fourth Round, again I pick right, this time it's the 2010. So we're tied up 2-2. I tend to like what I just tasted, but am not sure why. I do know, I'm failing as a taste tester.

Fifth Round, I go with the left. Maybe I'm just trying to change it up. Either way, it's the 2009. It edges ahead.

Sixth Round, I go back to the right and choose the 2009. I obviously cannot tell. This makes it 4-2 victory for the 2009. Maybe I am telling something different, but really, I'm just picking one out of a hat practically.

Final Round, again the 2009, again on the right. Must be something I'm tasting different, but really I just throw my hands up and remember the last one, I fear.

I chose the second one 6 times out of 7 for 2010 (4-2 for 2009) and the first one once (1-0 for 2009).

Two more to go, (Christmas and Winter). I'm still saving one from each year, so I've got a 2010 Spring, Summer, and Okt for next year or a special occasion.

In the series of 5, it's a strong win for 2009 (Spring), mild wins for 2009 (Oktoberfest) and for 2010 (Summer). Technically 2-1 2009.

*Above artistic fall photos were taken January 1, 2011 in Houston. The photographer can be seen in the reflection of the astute observer.

Teaser - I just did the Christmas Ale test, overwhelming selection for one over the other, so stay tuned!

Aggies are a good people. However even as a Texan, I don't quite understand Aggies, and I have never been able to find one of them that could explain the Aggie culture to me. My lack of a solid grasp on their world, however, does not mean I don't respect the Aggies. Yesterday, when a local client called and offered tickets to the first iteration of the AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic not played in Cotton Bowl Stadium (Crawford's lessons numero uno: It is always about the money), I gladly accepted the offering . The not-Cotton Bowl was a phenomenal football game, despite the unintelligible LSU fans and the deeply angry A&M fans.

Kids, if you have not guessed thus far, I'm checking in from the road for this, my third installment on Crawford's Imbibe This! gifted to the youngsters at The Ferm. Following a green project manager's error of judgment with one of our important Fort Worth clients, I reluctantly brought my talents to the Metroplex to put out some proverbial fires. (Crawford's lessons #7: If any of you are PMs, you should be aware that candor is not the rare and wondrous thing Jack Welch would like you to believe. "The Crawford Way" is built on the "I will get back to you on that" principle. Most of the time less talking is more.)

Be that as it may, it is the weekend, and Crawford is off the clock right now. I am fresh out of the hotel room's Jacuzzi bathtub, I have a beer in hand, and I am ready to share some beer thoughts with the Internet community.

Speaking of community, is there any doubt that the Aggies lead the nation in collegiate cooperative spirit? Enthusiasm? Check. Desire? Check. Readiness? I was figuratively on the verge of enlisting after watching the Aggie halftime show. Impressive. And a little hypnotic. But seriously readers, I have not seen a more extraordinary parade of individuals since that Japanese synchronized walking video. Luckily, when at Cowboys Stadium, if the action on the field gets too intense, you can just look up at the ginormous television screen to reorient yourself.

Overall, the Jerry World experience was remarkable, but I do not want to make this post all about the game yesterday.

But please pardon me while I share one unpleasant game day experience. Ten minutes into the game the energy in the Death Star seemed at its peak. Tailgate beverages were prominent in the collective bloodstreams of the crowd, and the Ags had just shockingly taken an early ten point lead over the Tigers. Every otolaryngologist in the DFW area must have had burning left ears. I am just saying that it was pretty loud. But in the brief lull between the Aggie field goal and the subsequent kickoff, I picked up some particularly foul language emanating from the seats behind me. "F- you! F- you! F- you!" [repeat repeat].

As mentioned earlier, I have never met a Cajun that I could understand the words coming out of their mouth. However, being from Houston, I do speak a little farmer. After the Aggies kicked the ball off and belted out some hate hoots, I heard the guy more clearly: "F- you Tigers! F- you Tigers!"

Excuse this one digression. For any reader shames swearers, just shut the front door right now. I am willing to bet you use profanity all the time, only you justify your raging outbursts by using cute replacement words like "gosh," "shoot," or "darn." I don't know if you know this, but we all know the real word you meant to say. Our brains do the translation for us. (Unless you are Cajun or from Northern Louisiana, then my brain translates to the teacher's language in Peanuts.) "Oh shoot!" Are you playing billiards, taking a photo, or ordering a hit? No? then you sir are a swearer. So if you are going to swear, and I am not trying to be an advocate here, but I think I'm talking to almost all of you here, I have a suggestion of how to be a better swearer than "F- you" guy.

I propose that the greatest and most versatile swear word in American lexicon is "crap." Follow along.

Crap is just harsh enough for your most passionate anguishes. CRAP!! Stuck in a hopeless situation? Crrraaaaaaaaaaap. Taste something nasty? It tastes like crap. Forced to endure an unpleasant situation? That is a crap sandwich. And if you still are not sold, please name me a curse word that you can give your Mother in a Hallmark card… AND she thinks it's funny! That is crap, kids. (For those of you that may suggest "turd," that is much too silly a word.)

So Crawford is no prude, but who the heck curses so much in a winning effort? I needed to see F- you guy for myself, so I turned around and looked. Surprisingly, it was a semi-normal looking man in respectable Aggie gear (i.e. not coveralls). Now this f-ing Aggie did not take kindly to me giving him a curious look. "F- you guy!" he unexpectedly said.

I have been to plenty of sporting events, and I know every crowd has a few bad bulls. With this in mind, I gave F- you guy the thumbs up, and ignored him for the rest of the game.

And I took his picture with my pocket phone.

I am not here to sully the passion of the Fighting Aggie fans. (They went on to lose the football game. F- you guy probably went home and kicked his dog.)
I am here to deliver a beer review, so here we go. When I forwarded the F- you guy picture to SirRon, a Longhorn, he suggested I do a write-up on obvious choices like Rogue Arrogant Bastard or Stone Sublimely Self-Righteous. However, this review is not about the Longhorns. Ignoring his advice, tonight I have poured a Flying Dog Raging Bitch.

Raging Bitch is a Belgian-style India Pale Ale (IPA). My charter at The Ferm is not to be an historian, but the curious can read all about IPAs on Wikipedia. If you are an American craft beer enthusiast like me, you will know the threshold of the American palate for hops is nearly limitless. Flying Dog gives a bit of a nod to American IPA fans by using generous amounts of high alpha acid America hops (Warrior, Columbus, Amarillo, and more Amarillo for dry hopping). The IBUs measure 60 for this beer, which would be pushing the envelope of traditional English IPAs, but are only above average in today's American IPA revolution. The beer weighs in at a very drinkable 8.3% ABV, which makes it a sneaky little bitch.

Flying Dog's curveball for this beer is the use of a Belgian yeast strain ("El Diablo") instead of a typical clean fermenting ale yeast. The end result is both delicious and surprisingly straight forward. The yeast and the hops team up to give a lemon tartness, but also diverge to impart their own unique flavors. Raging Bitch tastes like the perfect marriage of an American IPA and a Belgian Strong Ale. Perhaps my favorite aspect of this beer is the cold and warmer versions both offer two different, but two very enjoyable beers. At refrigerator temperature, the hop bitterness is at the forefront. As the beer warms, more of the sweet malt and citrusy yeast esters emerge. My foodie and beer nerd readers should note that this is a beer that pairs well with both a stinky cheese and a dark chocolate.

Flying Dog Raging Bitch is f-ing good and another strong recommendation from Crawford. Until next time kids, imbibe that!