Blind BA Vanilla Tasting Results Are In: Chicago Does it Again Back to Back

Don’t worry, Revolution Brewing doesn’t make a barrel aged vanilla stout.

After months of work and hundreds of dollars tracking down these 19 bottles, opening them blind, and crunching all the numbers: I am now fully prepared to listen to the blubbering of landlocked dipshits complaining about how Bourbon Vanilla Dark Lord was not included.

In opening so many world class beers blind, it almost is a sleight to think of any of these beers as “losing” such a competition.  Alas, in blind rankings someone has to bring up the rear, and there were quite a few surprises along the way.

This is the order in which the bottles were opened, from L to R:van2

The winners and “losers” were as follows:

BREAKDOWN

Text nonsense below:

19 19 Vanilla Abduction 4 7 7 8 4 6 9 5 6 6.222222222 1.715938357
16 18 Brewdog Cocoa Vanilla Psycho 6 7 7 10 8 9 12 6 5 7.777777778 2.223610677
4 17 Karbach Vanilla Hellfire 6 10 7 12 10 10 10 8 7 8.888888889 1.96497102
9 16 BA Wreck Alley w Vanilla 10 14 9 13 10 10 12 7 9 10.44444444 2.185812841
15 15 HPB Woodshop 10th 10 15 13 12 6 7 11 7 13 10.44444444 3.166666667
1 14 BA Monster’s Park Carribean Rum w Vanilla 13 12 10 11 12 9 12 8 13 11.11111111 1.763834207
6 13 Pugachev Royale 11 14 11 13 9 9 13 10 14 11.55555556 2.00693243
14 12 Velvet Speedway 16.5 15 10 15 8 10 13 7 11 11.72222222 3.327077463
7 11 Nooner 9 14 13 14 12 10 12 14 9 9 11.88888889 2.088327348
10 10 2010 BCS Vanilla 16 15 8 15 13 12 14 9 11 12.55555556 2.788866755
13 9 BA Vanilla Shake 13 15 11 16 13 14 14 10 12 13.11111111 1.900292375
2 8 Chocolate Salty BBLs 14 14 12 13 14 14 14 10 16 13.44444444 1.666666667
12 7 Kyle Jukes Homebrew 15 16 13 14 16 16 17 10 15 14.66666667 2.121320344
3 6 Prairie Vanilla Noir 15 18 13 17 15 12 13 15 15 14.77777778 1.922093766
18 5 Summation 15 18 15 13 17 12 15 12 16 14.77777778 2.108185107
11 4 Derivation b2 13 16 12 16 15 14 17 14 17 14.88888889 1.763834207
8 3 Vanilla Eclipse 16 19 11 18 16 15 15 11 14 15 2.738612788
17 2 Fundamental Observation 15 17 11 15 19 18 18 12.5 18 15.94444444 2.766365445
5 1 BCS Vanilla Rye 2014 17.5 19 15 18 17 16 16 14 17 16.61111111 1.536590743

Pictured in order as ranked above:

van3

This time inverted, first place on the far right, down to the humble Pipeworks Vanilla abduction on the far left.

Some takeaways from this noble experiment:

  1. There appears to be a noted bias against the non-barrel aged control beers, and therefore perhaps Pipeworks and Brewdog would have stomped the testicles of the competition if their BALs were included. Perhaps.
  2. The age of the bottle seemed to have some bearing on the scores, with the alleged “unfadeable” [fn1] 2010 BCBVS falling in the middle of the pack, but 2014 Vanilla Rye finishing first place.  This would also account for the placement of BA Vanilla shake, another crowd favorite turned upset.
  3. Viscosity and mouthfeel are the stage in which the beans are flicked, so there appeared to be a trend wherein “thinner” beers like the offerings from Karbach and Highland Park came across like Pepsi and Dr. Pepper with their gentle waify bodies tossed around in favor of residual sugars and heft.

van4.jpg

4.  The paradigm of cost to quality, within the scope of hype seemed to skew everywhere.  Certainly the cost of entry controls perceived value, but Derivation 2 was damn near the best regardless of hype. Of note are the two “homebrew” titans from Kyle Jukes and 3 Sons clocking in at the top of the pack, demonstrating that small batch beers on nonstandard setups can return awesome results.

5. The heralded battle between Fundamental Observation and Vanilla Rye almost ended up in a dead even stand-off.  Perhaps two different palates could have inverted these two results, the preferences were so contentious that they might be viewed in directly equal parity. Notwithstanding, it is important to note that “shelfturds” like the new Eclipse Vanilla and the wildly impressive Prairie Noir still held their own amiably in a ridiculously tough lineup.

van5

6.  The Bruery, with almost zero fanfare received high praise and return pours once the beers were unveiled.  The perceived loss of stock in a company turning out consistently awesome beers is great in the climate of whale hunters who have moved on, seeking more cetacean waters.

7.  The biggest upsets of the evening were both SoCal darlings: Hangar 24 Pugachev Royale and Alesmith Velvet Speedway. After combing through the notes it appears that the death knell to these two beers was an odd lack of balance respective to each.  With Royale the common complaint was predicated on the “heat” of the bottle, which may have been remedied if served in larger pours at higher temps.  The relatively thin body of Velvet coupled with a subtle vanilla presence seemed to draw focus away from its nuanced style.  People were pretty shocked where both clocked in.

van6

8.  Within the lower echelon were the nonstandard offerings which seemed deficient by contrast: either for a lack of barrel aging, a Natalie Portman thin body, cedar agign, or for merely being an Imperial Porter.  The numbers were unanimous in this regard and while the “bottom” tier in a world class tasting still contains notably awesome beers, they simply could not stand up to the Holly Holm onslaught of getting pounded in the bean all night.

Or maybe DDB is just a shill pussy offering prevaricating language to preserve relationships with the bottom ranked breweries.  Maybe DDB needs to pander and offer conciliatory prose to offer a gentle patpat on the scapula of the fallen.  Or maybe DDB doesnt trust its readers enough to infer that the worst in a tasting is no demarcation of an objective lack of quality.  Maybe DDB doesnt even know that Cocoa Psycho wasn’t even barrel aged and doesn’t even contain coffee or psycho. WHO KNOWS

At any rate, congratulations again to Chicago for literally and metaphorically representing both the best and the absolute worst in the beer world. Hats off to all of the breweries involved, fantastic job all around.

BRB setting up a gmail folder for all of the “SHITTY TASTING WHERE WAS MY [stupid obscure local draft-only import stout aged on vanilla beans]” emails.

[fn1 it is common knowledge that the adjuncts in midwest stouts never falloff, coffee and vanilla exist in perpetuity and will always drink JUST AS GOOD AS EVER, particularly in the esteem of parties attempting to trade away 5 year old bottles.]

Advertisements

2 thoughts on “Blind BA Vanilla Tasting Results Are In: Chicago Does it Again Back to Back

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s