Monday, September 5, 2011

Battle Royale No 7: Abel vs. Cain

As a passport-bearing denizen of Northern Ireland, I am no stranger to family in-fighting. In the wee parcel of land from whence I sprung, men have bled and died while not realizing that they have much more in common with each other than they do with either the people of the Republic of Ireland or the British Royal family, that bunch of teat-sucking German vampires. No prizes for guessing which side I tend towards.

However, I am all too happy that my folks eschewed the blinkered life of the oul' sod and came instead to Canada, where I can even make friends with a Liverpudlian without the attendant stigma associated with same. Well, without most of the stigma...

But anyway, here we are at the much-overdue B.R. numbah 7, and it's time for a little good old fashioned inter-brewery throw-down. In one corner, the much-lauded Fat Tug; in the other, Twenty Pounder gets another shot. Ding!

Driftwood Fat Tug IPA vs. Driftwood Twenty Pounder Double IPA

Round 1: Fight!

Now, many of you might already be saying, "Hey! You already said you didn't like the Twenty-Pounder! How fair is that?" Well, not fair, actually, but let me put this out there. Ignoring all a priori notions of which beer is better, I laid aside my initial impression, and really tried to examine the beer. After all, while taste is subjective, some folks are really digging this brew. 

So here we are then, and at first sniff, here we are with some seriously hoppy beers. Seriously, the Fat Tug's got more hops than a jackrabbit smoothie, and a whiff of the Twenty-Pounder indicates the same. Warning: the 'Tug starts Alexander Keith's corpse spinning in his grave, but the Twenty Pounder has him hitting 9000 rpms. Dude just hit VTEC, yo.

On first blush, the Twenty Pounder has the edge on body and colour, but it's the Fat Tug's floral hop bouquet that draws first blood.

Round 2: Fight!

Obviously, I've got to sample the Fat Tug first off, as the Twenty-Pounder has the heft to be an A-Bomb to the tastebuds. I am become DIPA, destroyer of Palates. It's hard to believe that this stuff is even better on tap than it is in the bottle. It's fresh and light and delicious without being wimpy. As much as I love Red Racer, Fat Tug is stiff competition against any IPA.

But it's not up against any IPA, it's up against its hairy-knuckled big bro'. Which beer, it must be said, has some of that stewed-grapefruit character of Southern Tier's Un*Earthly, possibly my fav beer if I had to choose. But where the Tier balances that double shwack of hops with a big malt body, the Twenty-Pounder has an astringent bitterness that's off-leash. No mistaking the big alcohol content either. Second round's gotta go to the 'Tug.
Round 3: Fight!

There's a third left in each bottle now, and if I didn't have a liver the size of a wagon-wheel, I'd be slurring my sibilants. As it stands, I still stand, and so do our two combatants, though the Twenty-Pounder has been taking a beating.

But something funny's happened. The initial bite of both beers has been muted by their intense hop concentrations to the point that the acrid, astringent taste of the Twenty-Pounder is no longer off-putting. It's been blunted by repeated sipping and funnily enough, the Fat Tug is almost like a Race Rocks in its maltiness as its hoppiness is masked by the solar flare of resin coming off the Twenty-Pounder. Which do I prefer? 

Hmm. Round 3 is a draw.

Round 4: Fight!

We're down to the dregs now, and the numbers of lysed brain cells are hitting the trillons. So I hope you appreciate the research, dear readers, as the chances of me ever doing a crossword puzzle again just went out the window. 

But, in the final round, we do have a winner. The Twenty-Pounder is just too much like work. It's not quaffable in any degree: the intensity of the hops is simply exhausting to the palate, and then you refresh yourself with a sip of Fat Tug and wonder why you're bothering with the other. After all, the Twenty-Pounder is only 2% stronger than the 'Tug is anyway.


Fat Tug wins, despite giving up a hop-load and ABV advantage to the heavy-weight Twenty-Pounder!

Post-Battle Review:

More is not necessarily better. Hard to believe I'm saying such a thing about beer, but there you go. I maintain that Driftwood Brewing is the Brewery to beat on the West Coast for range-wide excellence, but their regular IPA remains too good for a misfire of a DIPA to take out in single combat.

Driftwood Fat Tug
Recommended if:-one "schwack o' hops" is enough
-balance is favoured over sheer mass
-still worth ordering for the double-entendre name

Not Recommended if:
-you only buy cans
-tastebuds be damned, I need to kill my brain!
-you don't like IPAs. In which case: this is the wrong B.R. for you, boyo.

Driftwood Twenty-Pounder
Recommended if:-ABV and IBU high-scores matter more to you than taste
-For those about to have a major hang-over, we saluuuute you
-you probably should try it at least once anyway
Not recommended if:-you're not a hop fan. Because this will melt your face.
-you favour balance over outright intensity
-there's Fat Tug available. Because it's better.

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