Taste-Off at the JFP | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

Taste-Off at the JFP

Photo by Virginia Schreiber.

All summer long, beer geeks and hop-heads have been buzzing about craft beer. But for those who have never ventured outside the standard varietals, the pool of higher-alcohol beers can be an intimidating one to cannonball into.

Luckily, we’ve put together a cheat sheet for you. We invited some of the members of Raise Your Pints to a Craft Beer Taste-Off to see how our palates compared with the local experts. Team JFP and Team RYP sat down with six of the higher-alcohol beers (plus Bud Light as a “control” beer) that will hit Mississippi sometime in July. We tasted from the lightest to the most intensely flavored India pale ales, and judged each brew using five criteria.

To read the full response cards and see a gallery of photos, visit jfp.ms/beermonth.

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#1 Budweiser Bud Light

[Appearance]

  • “Clear yellow, little foam.” -Monique
  • “Gold, bubbly ... the foam went bye, bye quick.” -Andrea
  • “Yaller” -Kristin
  • “Has a urine color. Faint, yellow.” -Thile
  • “Light, straw.” -Mike
  • “Extremely translucent.” -RYP Todd

[Aroma]

  • “Smells like teen spirit” -JFP Todd
  • “Frat house dance floor.” -Jacob
  • “Old man’s junkyard truck.” -Andrea
  • “Smells like the most average of ‘Merican beers.” -Kristin
  • “N/A” -Craig
  • “Slight malt, no hops.” -Mike
  • “Rice and Thai hookers.” -RYP Todd

[Taste]

  • “Soapy.” -JFP Todd
  • “Lemon, not much flavor = bubbly water. I see why you should drink it cold.” -Monique
  • “Bitter, watery, lifeless.” -Jacob
  • “Ugghhh ... watery, old.” -Andrea
  • “Tastes like grandpa’s evening snack.” -Kristin
  • “Water.” -Craig
  • “Water with a hint of beer. Slight tang gag down.” -Thile
  • “Trailer park.” -RYP Todd

[BODY/Mouthfeel]

  • “High carbonation, cotton candy-ish. Extremely light-bodied.” -JFP Todd
  • “Light, empty, bad light.” -Andrea
  • “Thin and carbonated.” -Kristin
  • “Bubbly.” -Craig
  • “Aqueous.” -Thile
  • “Thin.” -RYP Todd

[FINISH]

  • “Slightly musty, inconsequential.” -JFP Todd
  • “Tickles.” -Monique
  • “Disappointing.” -Jacob
  • “Tastes like sad.” -Kristin
  • “None.” -Craig
  • “Nonexistent.” -Thile
  • “Unimpressive.” -Mike
  • “Grainy.” -RYP Todd

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#2 Spaten Optimator

[Appearance]

  • “Caramel, but lightens at edges.” -JFP Todd
  • “Looks like amber in Jurassic Park. Thin foam line.” - Monique
  • “Coca-cola.” -Jacob
  • “Dark opaque, more fizz than Bud.” -Andrea
  • “Dark.” -Craig
  • “Nice appearance.” -Thile
  • “Dark amber.” -RYP Todd

[Aroma]

  • “Not strong... slight 'stables' smell.” -JFP Todd
  • “Almost chocolate/bitter, dark chocolate.” - Monique
  • “A good night.” -Jacob
  • “Caramel, sweet.” -Andrea
  • “Has a nice aroma, caramel/raisin or toffee.” -Thile
  • “Heavy malt, almost no hops.” -Mike
  • “Malt.” -RYP Todd

[Taste]

  • “Chocolate/cocoa notes. Coffee.” -JFP Todd
  • “Bitter, heavy body.” - Monique
  • “Tasty.” -Andrea
  • “Tastes like it smells—very sweet, brown caramel flavor.” -Kristin
  • “Caramel taste with a slight malt backbone. Hints of raisins and cloves?” -Thile
  • “Heavy malt, slight hops, caramel.” -Mike
  • “Figs, tobacco.” -RYP Todd

[Body/Mouthfeel]

  • “Does not sting the tongue, minimal fizz.” -Monique
  • “Heavy, thick and smooth.” -Jacob
  • “Slight sparkle to the mouthfeel, a little tingle on the back of the tongue.” -Kristin
  • “Nice, tasty beer, with a carbonation buzz.” -Thile
  • “Medium body.” -Mike

[Finish]

  • “Some aftertaste; a slight cough-syrup quality.” -JFP Todd
  • “Smooth going down. (Not my preference.)” - Monique
  • “Slightly bitter, hoppy.” -Jacob
  • “Slight aftertaste. Would drink again!” -Kristin
  • “Quick aftertaste.” -Craig
  • “Slight afterburst from the carbonation/alcohol.” -Thile
  • “Refreshingly malty.” -Mike

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#3 Abita Andygator

[Appearance]

  • “Looks like Heineken in the glass.” -JFP Todd
  • “Hangover pee.” -Jacob
  • (Bottle) “Logo is awesome.” -Andrea
  • “Apple juice? Nah.” -Kristin
  • “Nice head. Light/yellow color.” -Craig
  • “Dark yellow, classic ‘beer’ color.” -Thile

[Aroma]

  • “Smells like boating; Key West—wet boards.” -JFP Todd
  • “Not much, not as aromaless as Bud Light.” -Monique
  • “Leaning towards the generic side of Bud Light ... and juice?” -Kristin
  • “Banana/cloves/spicy flavour.” -Thile
  • “Hop finish, sweet.” -Mike

[Taste]

  • “Like Miller High Life with flavor & ABV. Hints of stale corn chips.” -JFP Todd
  • “Sweet, heavy on alcohol.” -Jacob
  • “I can’t get apple juice out of my mind ... Fermented apples.” -Kristin
  • “Damn good!” -Craig
  • “Nice alcohol flavour, banana stands out to me.” -Thile
  • “Sweet, spicy, hops.” -Mike
  • “Alcohol, mild sweetness, malt.” -RYP Todd

[Body/Mouthfeel]

  • “Hairy, dusty mouthfeel.” -JFP Todd
  • “Fluffy, but brings the buzz.” - Jacob
  • “Feels like mouthwash without the burn.” -Andrea
  • “Good feel on the palate, light & refreshing, despite the alcohol.” -Thile
  • “Light, bitter, slight champagne.” -Mike
  • “Smooth & carbonated.” -RYP Todd

[Finish]

  • “A little skunk on the backend kinda snuck around my head and slapped me on the back of the neck.” -JFP Todd
  • “I finished.” -Monique
  • “Almost no aftertaste. At eight percent, that could lead to some surprises an hour later.” -Kristin
  • “Yes.” -Craig
  • “Nice finish, good alcohol burn on the finish.” -Thile
  • “Heavy malt finish.” -Mike

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#4 Samuel Adams Imperial Stout

[Appearance]

  • “Coke & coffee, foams with a root beer head.” -JFP Todd
  • “Dark like coffee, must be coffee.” -Monique
  • “Dark like Kristin’s soul!” -Andrea
  • “Dark like my soul. Foam like fresh poured coffee.” -Kristin
  • “Black as the devil’s a-hole.” -Thile
  • “Dark, impossible to see through.” -Mike
  • “Liquid asphalt.” -RYP Todd

[Aroma]

  • “Car exhaust notes; slightly sugary.” -JFP Todd
  • “Licorice.” -Monique
  • “Coffee w/ lots of sugar.” -Jacob
  • “Dark chocolate smell.” -Andrea
  • “A bit of a bite. There is a smell I recognize but can’t quite place. Not coffee enough.” -Kristin
  • “Rich, dark malt, hops.” -Mike
  • “Dark chocolate.” -RYP Todd

[Taste]

  • “Coffee on the burner, 4 p.m. in the Denny’s.” -JFP Todd
  • “Sweet, chocolatey. Willy Wonka would be proud.” -Jacob
  • “Good! My favorite of the day!” -Andrea
  • “Acidic highnote—but creamy.” -Kristin
  • “Chocolate & alcohol taste with a very strong malt backbone/coffee-esque bitterness.” -Thile
  • “Hops, malt, bitter.” -Mike

[Body/Mouthfeel]

  • “A bit foamy; like a coffee spritzer.” -JFP Todd
  • “Winter heavy.” -Monique
  • “Liquid candy.” -Jacob
  • “Filling. I’m filling up!” - Kristin
  • “Awesome.” -Craig
  • “Strong mouthfeel with a heavy alcohol presence.” -Thile
  • “Thick, bitter.” -Mike

[Finish]

  • “Less offensive than you’d guess. Feels like it needs water back.” -JFP Todd
  • “Really dark. I didn’t think I would like it but I did. Win!” -Monique
  • “Cold coffee with chocolate liqueur.” -Jacob
  • “Fantastic.” -Craig
  • “Lingering alcohol/bitterness on the palate.” -Thile
  • “Heavy, bitter.” -Mike
  • “Coffee beans—solid harshness for the style.” -RYP Todd

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#5 Rogue Dead Guy

[Appearance]

  • “Medium, slightly murky.” -Jacob
  • (Beer) “I love this color—golden bronze color. No fizz.” -Andrea
  • (Bottle) “Coolest logo out of all.” -Andrea
  • “Mid-level caramel color with very white foam.” -Kristin
  • “Light.” -Craig
  • “Nice amberish hue. Clear/translucent.” -Thile
  • “Caramel—light amber.” -RYP Todd

[Aroma]

  • “Fruity citrus.” -Monique
  • “Is my nose working?” -Jacob
  • “Very light scent—doesn’t smell like rotting corpses at all!” -Kristin
  • “Slight hip, citrus aroma.” -Thile
  • “Malt, slight hops.” -Mike
  • “Caramel & malt.” -RYP Todd

[Taste]

  • “A little hoppy, some spice; balanced.” -JFP Todd
  • “Bite, orange, lemon.” -Monique
  • “Don’t like it. Smoky back of my throat feel. BAD! I feel like I need to cough. I expected more from the appearance.” -Andrea
  • “Light, almost fruity taste.” -Kristin
  • “Light alcohol, low malt. Light flavour of hops/citrus.” -Thile
  • “Hop beginning, malt finish.” -Mike
  • “Malty, slightly sweet, mildly hopped.” -RYP Todd

[Body/Mouthfeel]

  • “Bright in your mouth; a little smooth; tickles the nose.” -JFP Todd
  • “OK, so how many ways to describe how beer feels in your mouth—damn ‘bubbly.’” -Monique
  • “Smooth, a little watery/thin (but not as bad as Bud Light!).” -Kristin
  • “Some tingle.” -Craig
  • “Good mouthfeel, light but with a malt backbone.” -Thile
  • “Medium-creamy.” -RYP Todd

[Finish]

  • “Some fruit; hangs around like that brother-in-law who is fun on the weekend, but a pain once the week starts.” -JFP Todd
  • “Tangy, slightly hopped.” -Jacob
  • “Light, slight acidic edge. Again, doesn’t taste like a dead person.” -Kristin
  • “Light aftertaste—top of throat. Nice beer!” -Craig
  • “Lingering hop flavour—good/citrus.” -Thile
  • “Crisp.” -Mike
  • “Slight sweet, mild alcohol.” -RYP Todd

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#6 Abita Jockamo

[Appearance]

  • “Perfect butterscotch color.” -JFP Todd
  • “Amber foamy.” -Monique
  • “Apple juice.” -Jacob
  • “I like this color. Like two shades darker than the Rogue.” -Andrea
  • “Mid-level color. Cream colored foam.” -Kristin
  • “Yes.” -Craig
  • “Amber w/ a nice frothy head.” -Thile
  • “Amber.” -Mike

[Aroma]

  • “Extreme citrus, grapefruit pith.” -Monique
  • “Citrus pine trees.” -Jacob
  • “Pine, molasses, spearmint... stanky, been-in-the-fridge-too-long apple juice.” -Andrea
  • “Aladdin’s sweet tea, three days old.” -Kristin
  • “Finally some hops!” -Craig
  • “Pine, hop, slight grapefruit.” -Mike
  • “Hoppy, slightly yeasty, piney.” -RYP Todd

[Taste]

  • “Slightly disappointing. Fruit—apricot? Dishwater notes. Perfect beer for eating a Christmas tree.” -JFP Todd
  • “Like it—like fermented orange juice.” -Monique
  • “Grapefruit-soaked hops.” -Jacob
  • “Piney, woody, I licked a tree... Oooooo... Strong, strong aftertaste.” -Andrea
  • “Great.” -Craig
  • “Grapefruit.” -Mike
  • “Mild hop, somewhat sweet, trace of that Abita yeast.” -RYP Todd

[Body/Mouthfeel]

  • “Not acidy.” -Monique
  • “Thick, smooth.” -Jacob
  • “Acidic. I let it sit on my tongue and it burned. No!” -Andrea
  • “Carbonated and a little on the watery side.” -Kristin
  • “Yes.” -Craig
  • “Crisp.” -Mike
  • “Smooth and creamy.” -RYP Todd

[Finish]

  • “Feel it chasing itself down my throat.” -JFP Todd
  • “Not bitter.” -Monique
  • “Smooth hops, citrus bite.” -Jacob
  • “None. Great beer.” -Craig
  • “Bitter.” -Mike
  • “Smooth, mildly hoppy.” -RYP Todd

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#7 Sierra Nevada Torpedo

[Appearance]

  • “Caramel—a little light.” -JFP Todd
  • “Baby urine / OK this is the last one.” -Monique
  • “Clear, medium-light.” -Jacob
  • (Beer) “Gold.” -Andrea
  • (Bottle) “Why does Sierra Nevada always have green labels? Just sayin’.” -Andrea
  • “Beer bottle brown, dead on.” -Kristin
  • “Perfect!” -Craig
  • “Light reddish colour.” -Thile
  • “Straw.” -Mike
  • “Light copper.” -RYP Todd

[Aroma]

  • “Less aroma than I expected ... minor garden notes. A little sweat smell; just a hint of men’s room at the ballpark.” - JFP Todd
  • “Light, almost no smell.” -Monique
  • “Since this is the last beer, I have a confession. I can’t smell the beer unless its stronger.” -Andrea
  • “Beeeer PUNCH!” -Kristin
  • “Hops.” -Craig
  • “Light hops, slight malt.” -Mike
  • “West coast hop.” -RYP Todd

[Taste]

  • “Reminds me of Indian Summer. Bite.” -Monique
  • “No! Tastes like the Jockamo but way stronger.” -Andrea
  • “Hop, hopp, hopp.” -Kristin
  • “Fantastic.” -Craig
  • “Bitter with citrus/pine/hops.” -Thile
  • “Sweet then bitter.” -Mike
  • “Hoppy-perfect bitterness.” -RYP Todd

[Body/Mouthfeel]

  • “Thin, carb in the pour. Sensible hi ABV beer.” -JFP Todd
  • “I drank it. I finished it.” -Monique
  • “Medium weight.” -Jacob
  • “Foamy.” -Andrea
  • “Not thin... but... kinda...” -Kristin
  • “Solid mouthfeel/bitter w/ hops.” -Thile
  • “Crisp, light.” -Mike
  • “Full flavored, hoppy, carbonated.” -RYP Todd

[Finish]

  • “A little throat burn.” -JFP Todd
  • “Don’t like it.” -Monique
  • “Medium-heavy hops make your mouth water.” -Jacob
  • “Beer with feelings. More feeling, once more...” -Kristin
  • “Nice. Bring it on to Mississippi!” -Craig
  • “Crisp then bitter.” -Mike
  • “Slight alcohol finish.” -RYP Todd

Team Jackson Free Press

Final Ranking:

  1. RogueDead Guy
  2. Abita Jockamo IPA
  3. Samuel Adams Imperial Stout
  4. Spaten Optimator
  5. Abita Andygator
  6. Sierra Nevada Torpedo IPA
  7. Budweiser Bud Light

Team Raise Your Pints

Final Ranking:

  1. Abita Jockamo IPA
  2. Sierra Nevada Torpedo IPA
  3. Rogue Dead Guy
  4. Samuel Adams Imperial Stout
  5. Spaten Optimator
  6. Abita Andygator
  7. Budweiser Bud Light

Comments

latashawillis 6 years, 2 months ago

“Less aroma than I expected ... minor garden notes. A little sweat smell; just a hint of men’s room at the ballpark.” - JFP Todd

Spoken like a person at the end of a beer taste-off who's halfway coherent. LOL

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aspiehler 6 years, 2 months ago

This should be a weekly event.

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morty 6 years, 2 months ago

Love it! Yay for Mississippi and good beer! Where was the Colorado contingent in your tasting lineup? As a Jackson native, Denver resident, and adventurous home brewer, I am thrilled that Mississippi finally gets to enjoy some of the tastiest beverages on the market. Looking forward to seeing Great Divide, Avery, Odell's, Oscar Blues and many more champs in my hometown in the months and years to come!

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tstauffer 6 years, 2 months ago

Morty: I think you're going to see bigger craft brewers + regional stuff (meaning Southern) first, before we get as much stuff from out west. What the distributors have told me is that just because we changed our ABV doesn't necessarily mean all the Colorado and West Coast brewers (or whoever) see a viable enough market to retool and start shipping here; in some cases the distributor is going to have to sell the brewery on the idea, and some of that will probably be based on numbers from the breweries that are already in the state. (E.g. Abita, Sam Adams, Tallgrass, etc. can turn right around and shoot us higher ABV brews since they're already sending trucks; somebody in North Carolina or Colorado or Vermont might wait out numbers on the Sam Adams to see if it looks like there's a Mississippi market for high-ABV crafts.)

I definitely hope we can do more tastings as we get access to more brews!

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donnaladd 6 years, 2 months ago

Todd and I met in Colorado, so there's that!

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