Monday, January 24, 2011
Battle Royale No. 2: All Hands on Deck!
Lighthouse Deckhand Belgian Saison vs Driftwood Farmhand Belgian Saison
Round One: Fight!
Confession time: I'm not a big fan of Belgian-style beers, and already I can hear the satisfying *gasp*-plop-clink as beer snobs everywhere widen their eyes in surprise and their monocles fall out into their tulip-stemmed glasses of Chimay. Well, stuff it anyway. I don't mind admitting that I'd rather have an IPA or a Stout, given a choice.
Thus, I figured it would be a good idea to spread the work around a little for the critiquing of a new beer from Lighthouse Brewing, as it's easy to hijack the credit and even easier to shuffle off the blame.
Lighthouse is well-known for what I'd refer to as workmanlike craft brewing. Their Beacon IPA is not as punchy as Phillip's Hop Circle, or even Granville Island's Brockton, but you're assured of consistent quality if you order a pint at your local, and I'll have you know I had two flats each of Beacon and Race Rocks as the beers at my wedding, and I'm still happily married. Coincidence?
Well, yes, absolutely. Marriage is about communication and commitment, not beer.
Anyway, Lighthouse's new "Small Brewery - Big Flavour" series aims to take that conservative brewing style and chuck it out the window. Shipwreck Triple IPA, Navigator Doppelbock and now a new Belgian Saison dubbed Deckhand all aim to take on the premium craft brewers at their own game.
What better match-up, then, than a head-to-head with Driftwood's well-established Farmhand Saison?
I dragooned both my better half (Katie), her crazy French-Canadian friend Lysanne, and Lysanne's annoyingly handsome boyfriend Todd (you won't find any pictures of him here as he makes me feel extra insecure in my ginger pudginess) into being associate judges. To avoid a priori assumptions, I didn't tell them which beer was which, and they were eager to begin...
While they're tasting, a quick word about the beer labels. The Farmhand sports the sort of interesting art we've come to expect from Driftwood. It's colourful, distinctive, and the pitchfork theme will appeal to fans of American Gothic, though it might alienate Frankenstein's Monster.
Whoever drew the artwork on the Deckhand label, however, has obviously been watching a lot of anime, and I don't mean Pokemon. Talk about your huge tracts of land.
Anyway, let's hear from the judges:
"Wow! They're totally different. This one [Farmhand] has much more flavour, but this one [Deckhand] is a much easier drinking beer"
"Yeah, this one you can just drink this [Farmhand], that one [Deckhand] you have to think about it."
Consensus? Round one to the Farmhand
Round Two: Fight!
Lysanne (on the left) thinking hard. My wife, the amorphous blob.
Note: do not call your wife "the amorphous blob". Not even once. Divorce is expensive, and receiving a sharp kick to the gentleman's area is painful.
"At first I'd say, this [Farmhand] is just a beer to enjoy, to go with a meal..."
"Yeah, this one [Deckhand] I like it, I like it, but you can only have one."
"It's more Belgian-y, which is surprising, because it's the Lighthouse." [see, this is why I enlisted help]
"Yeah, no I really like it!"
"I kinda think the-"
-Me (interrupting and being pedantic)
"Well, they've got three, the Navigator, which is a Dopplebock, and the Shipwreck, which is a triple IPA."
Consensus: Round two to the Deckhand!
Round Three: Tie-breaker!
"I don't think we liked this [the Deckhand] last time as much as we do now."
"I think it's going better with the cold cuts [prosciutto and others from Choux Choux Charcuterie]
"I liked it better, but I could only have one."
"Deckhand it is!"
Deckhand narrowly wins by decision!
Farmhand remained everybody's go-to favourite for everyday quaffing, and the bottle was emptied first, but it's a surprising upset win for Lighthouse's Deckhand! It might have a silly bottle adorned with ludicrous boobies, but the beer inside has a flavour that's full and rounded and perky and... sorry, what were we talking about again?
Oh, right. Well, it's a victory for Lighthouse's Deckhand, and I'm happy to say that if you're looking for that authentic Saison flavour, it's your go-to beer du jour.
Driftwood Farmhand Belgian Saison
-you're looking for an easy-drinking Belgian
-you're a pitchfork enthusiast
-you want your beer on tap
Not Recommended if:
-you have a collection of tulip-shaped glassware
-you've been stitched together from corpses and re-animated by a mad scientist
-you know the Belgian national anthem off by heart
Lighthouse Deckhand Belgian Saison
-you want a ester-packed big Belgian
-you're in the navy, but not the Village People kind
Not recommended if:
-you're embarrassed by labels
-you don't even like Belgian chocolate
-you live in a land-locked country