I’m usually all about Stouts, but my business travels have taken me to Burlington, Vermont over the past couple of years. Aside from being an incredibly beautiful place, Vermont is also a beer mecca and Burlington is right in the middle of the action. I was able to visit the hallowed Beverage Warehouse in Winooski, where I spent considerable time roaming the aisles. Thanks to the Bevvy, I can now proudly state that I have stood in line for Heady Topper there – I was able to buy a case – and proceeded to pack it carefully in my suitcase for the trip home. Thankfully, my friends at Delta didn’t search my luggage that day!
Thanks to my travels to Burlington, I now have a connection (thanks Darren!). I recently traded some excellent North Carolina stouts and IPAs for some Heady Topper, Second Fiddle, and a can of the elusive Lawson’s Sip of Sunshine, as well as some local Vermont stouts. Since I had three of the best IPAs around, I took the opportunity to conduct a blind taste test along with my 2 sons. My wife was our bartender and she each gave us a small glass of Heady, Second Fiddle, and SoS. I know our friends at The Alchemist counsel us to drink Heady straight from the can, but that would have compromised the blind part of the test, don’t you think?
I must say that I was surprised at the results. Out of the three, I had only tasted Heady Topper before, so I was feeling confident that I would be able to pick Heady out of the three. Boy was I ever wrong! My sons and I compared and contrasted the three – the aroma, the taste, the aftertaste, the color, the mouthfeel- and each of us wrote down our preferences in order. Trying to find fault in these three beers is near to impossible – it was more about taste preferences and being closer to perfection than finding fault. But doing a side by side by side taste test requires you to rate and rank the beers.
To the Fiddlehead team – congrats! Second Fiddle was the winner, followed closely by Lawson’s Sip of Sunshine and Heady Topper. Not exactly what I expected! All three of them are incredible beers. After sending my boys back to South Carolina and college (respectively) each with a can of Second Fiddle and a can of Heady, I’m looking forward to enjoying my last can of Second Fiddle! When summer comes, I’m going to find a way to add a bottle of Pliny the Elder to the taste test!
A couple of takeaways from the sampling:
- I really enjoyed doing this with my two boys (both of legal drinking age for the record). I tried to convey the concept of tasting and sampling beer for enjoyment versus drinking beer to drink beer. That’s one of the reasons I like stout beer so much – more on that in a future post!
- Comparing like beers is not an easy task! It really takes some concentration to consider the all of the tasting parameters. It was really fun (and eye-opening) to see that my expectations were blown away.
Have you ever been surprised by a blind taste test? Tell us about your experience!