Round 1 Jalapeno Ipas
Ballast Point Habanero Sculpin-
Founded in 1996, ballast point is part of the San Diego beer scene and has undergone massive growth. Not just a brewer, they are a distillery that also produces spirits. Their success story continued into 2015 when they were acquired by Constellation Brands in a billion dollar deal. The sculpin is one of their most well known beers and scores an impressive 97 points on beer advocate. This forms the base for their grapefruit, pineapple and habanero variants.
Jailbreak Welcome to Scoville Jalepeno IPA-
From tiny Jailbreak brewing in Laurel Maryland, this beer is a relative newcomer to the scene. Jailbreak opened for business in 2014 and has local distribution in the Baltimore and Washington DC metro areas. While relatively new, Jailbreak's products do not come off in that fledgling way that a lot of brewers do. With an excellent eye for design, this beer looks like one that would come from a much larger brewer. Hopefully this attention to detail will translate to the beer. Much less heralded, this underdog features an 84 rating on beer advocate.
Upon opening sculpin beer, it has a typical hoppy IPA scent with the aromas of pepper mixed in. Like the flagship beer, this one has the backbone of a great IPA that could stand on it's own. It starts off smooth, but the burn quickly sets in on the finish. At first it seems like a nice contrast to the cold liquid, but becomes increasing hot as the flavor lingers.
Next up we open the Scoville. This beer has a similar scent but also has a great IPA taste that proves it could be an excellent standalone beer. The jalapeno on this beer is definitely present, but has more of a roasted pepper quality. The heat is there but also slightly tempered by the cilantro in the beer. As I sip it down I find myself wishing for a basket of chips to pair this with.
A true knockout, Jailbreak's beer dominates. Both beers sport some heat, but the sculpin becomes a test of endurance as I struggle to get through the bottle. More of a novelty beer ,the heat seems excessive and is not adding a ton of flavor. Scoville on the other hand has that roasted pepper flavor that drinks like a meal with just enough heat to know it's there but not too much to keep me wanting to reach for another. It's this roasting of the ingredient that tempers the burn and brings out serious flavor.This beer would pair incredibly with Mexican food without overwhelming the taste buds. A true David over Goliath story.
Round 2- A Battle of Peanut Butter Porters
DuClaw Sweet Baby Jesus-
Head To Head-
I first tasted each of these beers independently of one another. DuClaw's SBJ was my first intro to chocolate and peanut butter in a beer. With a dark chocolate taste and a nice peanut butter finish this one struck me as a grown up take on a Reese's peanut butter cup. A few months later I had the Liquid Bliss and again enjoyed the same qualities of chocolate and peanut butter. Immediately I knew these were two beers that I could not measure unless I put them to the test.
We decided to pair these two against each other during one of our Sunday, football beer tastings. With a room of 5 or 6 testers, the comments were similar and the verdicts were split. Sweet Baby Jesus fans spoke of the roasted quality and more dry taste that they liked, citing the Liquid Bliss as too sweet. The Bliss Backers felt that this beer was stronger in chocolate flavor resulting in a sweeter beer.
While both beers put on an amazing showing there was no clear cut knockout in this battle. This one had to go the judges in order to solve what was basically a coin flip as they were so close. We had to give the nod to Terrapin in this one, despite the underdog status of DuClaw. This was a tough verdict as I personally love DuClaw's products and enjoy their flavorful, unique offerings. The deciding factor that gave Terrapin the win was the strength of the flavors. Being that this is an "extreme" type beer, we had to side with the one that gave us the most over the top show of chocolate. Dryer beer lovers will more likely prefer the DuClaw version but either one would make an amazing dessert beer.
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