The Second Annual Craft-Beer Taste-Off | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

The Second Annual Craft-Beer Taste-Off

Photo by Melanie Boyd.

In the year since the Mississippi Legislature approved higher-gravity beers, our beverage economy has seen an explosion of new brews to try, from local and regional microbreweries to innovative undertakings from the big industry boys. Last year, we met up with a crew from Raise Your Pints to introduce our readers to some of the types of beers they might not have ever tried before.

At this point, hopefully y'all have all gotten out to local restaurants and bars to sample some higher-grav beers. But the market doesn't show signs of slowing down, so we met up once again with Raise Your Pints for the Second Annual JFP/RYP Craft Beer Taste-Off, this time to try some of the newest or most popular local brews.

Our tasters tested 10 brews, provided by Southern Beverage, Capital City Beverage and Lucky Town Brewery.

BEER: Southern Prohibition Brewery's Suzy B (a blonde)

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Appearance

Lacey: Light but a little hazy, as a dirty blonde should be.

Emily: Golden like the USM Nasty Bunch defensive line.

Kristin: Apple juice blonde.

David: Thin head, wheaty amber color.

Aroma

Thile: Malty sweet, fruit from nose.

Andrew: Light fruit (apples, pears, plums). Slightly malty backbone.

David: Oats and grass.

Andrea: Smells so good, almost honeylike.

Taste

Jonas: Initial maltiness overcome by slight hop bitterness.

Lacey: Light and refreshing, but not a lot going on. Good beer for a hot summer day.

Thile: Grapefruit and orange peel. Really good!

Tyler: Mmm, sweet and light. Quintessential blonde ale.

David: Sweet, lingering wheat taste on back of tongue.

Body/Mouthfeel

Thile: Light body, refreshing.

Craig: Moderate carbonation.

Andrew: Medium-light body, excellent high carbonation for this style. Slightly puckering and astringent on finish.

Kristin: Very carbonated, but not quite Champagne.

David: Fuller than expected, sharper carbonation than expected as well.

Finish

Jonas: Dry finish with some hop flavor that lasts.

Andrew: Finishes pretty dry, not sweet after at all. Leaves my teeth a little squeaky, like lemon.

Tyler: Great aftertaste, no bitter beer face here. Lingering, but not in a bad way.

Andrea: I would drink it (which says a lot), but it has a lingering after taste.

The Food I'd Pair it With:

Lacey: Crawfish--anything where you need a slammer beer.

Emily: Summer berry salad.

Tyler: BLT

Andrea: Turkey sandwich with tomato.

Overall score:

RYP: 3.9

JFP: 3.6

BEER: NOLA Blonde Ale

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Appearance

Jonas: Gold in color with a slight chill haze. Little head.

Emily: Beautifully golden, like the Saints.

Tyler: Looks heavier than the Suzy B, darker for a blonde, which I like.

Kristin: A touch orange-y.

Gina: Dark gold, amber.

Aroma

Emily: Almost like milk chocolate and cherries.

Craig: Raisins.

Andrew: Nice bubblegum/banana. Very little to no hop aromas discernable.

Kristin: Almost nonexistent. Don't have a crisis, little beer!

David: Sharp & sweet wheat, carmalized.

Andrea: Hoppy.

Taste

Emily: Very light, white chocolate cherry candy bar.

Andrew: Slight bitterness, but unbalanced toward the sweet/malty side. Nice grainy character.

Kristin: Slightly spiced.

Gina: Very smooth, a jazzed-up Miller Lite.

David: Watery taste belies fuller scent. Tastes like beer and little else.

Andrea: Light, but almost like an energy drink.

Body/Mouthfeel

Jonas: Medium mouthfeel with medium body. Lower carbonation than I would want in this style.

Tyler: I like that it's a little heavier. A little too carbonated, I think.

Gina: Carbonated seriously.

David: Thin mouthfeel, slight carbonation.

Finish

Emily: Can I have more?

Craig: Very clean.

Andrew: Dry, puckering finish, but malt sticks into the aftertaste.

Kristin: Slight tart on the back of the tongue.

Gina: Tingly on my tongue.

The Food I'd Pair it With:

Jonas: Raspberry vinaigrette salad with blue cheese.

Thile: Crawfish, a Sal & Mookie's Stromboli.

Emily: Cheesecake.

Tyler: Grilled chicken.

Overall score:

RYP: 3.5

JFP: 2

BEER: Lucky Town Brewery Ballistic Blonde

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Appearance

Jonas: Pale yellow with great clarity.

Thile: Golden blonde, no head, slight carbonation from bubbles.

David: Darker copper, almost a hint of red.

Aroma

Jonas: Light, sweet maltiness with yeast aroma present.

Thile: Banana/clove.

Emily: Orange peel, with a little grapefruit, a touch of banana.

Gina: Smells like fruit, similar to wine.

David: Sweet, slightly stale, very faint tanginesss.

Taste

Jonas: Sweet maltiness, then it is overcome with phenols and esters from the Belgian yeast.

Emily: Tastes like ripe bananas with a bit of orange peel.

Craig: Soft yeast character.

Tyler: Sweet, almost like juice, but I can tell its got alcohol.

Kristin: I kid about apple juice, but no, really.

Gina: Great pool beer.

Andrea: Good, like a heavy cider.

Body/Mouthfeel

Emily: Absolutely lovely! Light summer feel. You know how bananas coat your mouth? This is it.

Tyler: Thick.

Kristin: Smooth like watah.

Gina: Drinks like a wine.

David: Round and full. Little carbonation.

Andrea: Heavy.

Finish

Lacey: Clean finish.

Craig: Slightly sweet.

Andrew: Not dry, but not too sweet. Not cloying at all, but finishes clean and doesn't stick around.

Tyler: Strong, solid, smooth.

The Food I'd Pair it With:

Jonas: A creamy Italian dish.

Thile: Pheasant or turkey, a Sal & Mookie's stromboli.

Craig: Crab cakes.

Tyler: Oxygen.

Kristin: Mmmm pie.

David: Cheese and crackers.

Overall score:

RYP: 4.1

JFP: 3.2

BEER: Goose Island 312 Urban Wheat Ale

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Appearance

Andrew: Hazy straw. Light, continues to effervesce.

Tyler: Bubbly, looks like its going to taste light.

Kristin: Sunshine yellow. I swear I saw fruit pulp in it.

David: Pale gold, late afternoon sunshine.

Aroma

Jonas: Grainy with some citrus notes present.

Emily: Much grapefruit.

Kristin: A citrus kick ... and maybe ginger?

David: Not a strong scent. Slight fermentation. Sweetness on the tail end.

Taste

Lacey: Not much of anything, just a little spice and citrus.

Andrew: Some wheat character, but not much. I get more unhopped American pale ale from this. Slight hop bitterness. A little fruity sweetness, but its not in the foreground.

Tyler: Sweet as hell, tastes like a wheat beer, which it is, but not like any I've ever tasted before.

Kristin: Sparkle of citrus for sure. Not wheaty like you'd think.

Gina: Tastes exactly like a French beer. Honey-like.

Andrea: Bite, almost a burn.

Body/Mouthfeel

Jonas: Medium-light in body with good carbonation.

Tyler: Really light, less filling.

David: Thinner than expected. Body drops away and leaves bitter water sensation in mouth.

Finish

Jonas: Crisp, dry finish.

Thile: Slight carbonic afterbite.

Emily: Ech.

Craig: Refreshing beer--perfect for hot summer days.

Kristin: Not quite clean, but almost.

Gina: Bright and sparkly.

The Food I'd Pair it With:

Jonas: Pepperoni pizza with a hearty tomato sauce.

Thile: Crawfish, shrimp, a Sal & Mookie's Stromboli.

Gina: Antipasto.

Overall score:

RYP: 2.8

JFP: 2.7

BEER: Magic Hat Elder Betty (elderberry summer seasonal ale)

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Appearance

Thile: Blonde, dark.

Craig: Like most light ales.

Andrew: Hazy golden orange. Little to no head.

Kristin: Solid orange beer.

Gina: Gold.

Aroma

Lacey: A little sweet.

Thile: Elderberry I am assuming.

Andrew: Fruity wheat aromas, a little tart in the nose. No hop aroma.

Tyler: Smells like a warm Natty Lite at a frat house.

Kristin: Blueberry, not elder betty.

Taste

Jonas: Berry flavor dominates the malt and hop characteristics.

Lacey: Initial spice with a taste of the fruit.

Emily: Blueberries from my grandfather's farm. Sweet.

Andrew: Nothing but fruit and carbonation bitterness.

Tyler: Blueberry-tasting, kind of tart with a twist.

Gina: Eww--can taste berry.

David: Champagne with hops. Berry flavor at the start.

Body/Mouthfeel

Thile: Medium-light body, carbonic bite.

Craig: Clean and crisp.

Kristin: Tiny bubbles at the top of the tongue ... smooth otherwise.

David: Full mouth. Holds together well. Slight carbonation.

Finish

Jonas: Crisp with dry finish. Berry flavor lingers.

Emily: This will give me a hangover, it is so sweet. If you like Abita Strawberry, you would probably like this.

Kristin: Not sour but leaves a tang.

The Food I'd Pair it With:

Jonas: Vanilla ice cream.

Thile: A Sal & Mookie's Stromboli!

Emily: Cobbler.

Kristin: Not blue cheese. Goat cheese works.

David: Pizza.

Overall score:

RYP: 2.1

JFP: 1.8

BEER: Yazoo Gerst Amber Ale

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Appearance

Jonas: Golden amber with great clarity.

Craig: Bronze.

Andrew: Brilliant clarity. Nice orange amber. Tiny bubbles of head continue to effervesce.

Gina: Color of cognac. Very pretty gold/amber. Very clear.

Andrea: Dark gold, like an old cowboy boot.

Aroma

Jonas: Sweet biscuit-y malt.

Emily: Very light, coriander and caramel.

Andrew: Great malty sweetness—somewhat like over-ripened apples.

Kristin: Caramel? Perhaps.

David: Sweet, full, strong hops.

Taste

Thile: Malt balanced with a light bread-y taste. Moderate hop bitterness.

Emily: Wow! Just tastes like great beer.

Craig: Light caramel.

Tyler: Really good! Tastes like an Abita Amber but better.

Andrea: Smooth, with less bite.

Body/Mouthfeel

Lacey: Medium and smooth.

Craig: Bready.

Emily: Nothing stands out except the wonderful blended, light airy taste.

Andrew: Medium body and medium-high carbonation.

Tyler: Not too light, not too heavy.

Gina: Shiny and sparkly.

David: Lots of carbonation, holds together well in mouth. Touches back of tongue and tip of tongue.

Finish

Lacey: Just a little spice.

Emily: Doesn't linger. You could drink a 12-pack before you realized it.

Andrew: Finishes somewhat malty, but nice for my tastes. The lingering sweetness is not cloying.

Tyler: Great, an aftertaste I can deal with.

Kristin: A bit sour, but at the sides of the tongue this time.

Gina: Crisp, no aftertaste.

The Food I'd Pair it With:

Jonas: Grilled Mahi-Mahi with oven-roasted new potatoes.

Lacey: Greek food.

Craig: Chili.

Kristin: Sweet potato fries.

Gina: Light pasta dishes.

Andrea: Bacon or something wrapped in bacon.

Overall score:

RYP: 3.9

JFP: 4.1

BEER: Southern Prohibition Devil's Harvest Pale Ale

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Appearance

Jonas: Pale yellow with a slight chill haze.

Thile: They have nice cans. Slight bronze-orange hue, no head.

Gina: Cloudy golden color.

Andrea: The can reminds me of F. Jones. Love it! Really cloudy amber liquid.

Aroma

Emily: Hops and malts with a little citrus background.

Craig: Grapefruit.

Kristin: Ooooh again. I'm starting to smell hops and indoor pine.

Gina: Orange citrus/bitter.

Taste

Jonas: Good balance of hop flavor and bitterness. Right on the threshold of an IPA.

Emily: Nice blend. Light on the hops, which shocked me a bit based on the smell. Has a bit of a cherry undertone.

Andrew: Tons of hop character, but subdued flavors. Great bitterness up front, followed by a transition to sweet grapefruit and malt character.

Tyler: Strong! One of my favorite pale ales.

David: Grass behind full, attractive bitterness with some spice at end.

Andrea: Hits the back of your throat with a smoky feeling.

Body/Mouthfeel

Lacey: Medium with moderate carb.

Emily: Coats the mouth. Makes you want more, like Gatorade does.

Kristin: Carby again.

David: Full and fairly bubbly.

Andrea: Makes me cough.

Finish

Jonas: Hop flavor lasts, but has a clean finish.

Thile: Bitter finish with acidic carbonic bite.

Emily: Almost tastes like bananas and cherries.

Andrew: Not dry, not sweet. Only leaves bitterness on the back of the tongue.

Tyler: Strong aftertaste that gave me bitter-beer face, but I'm not complaining.

Kristin: Sour on the center of the tongue.

The Food I'd Pair it With:

Jonas: Spicy Thai noodles.

Emily: Why would I eat with this beer? Its dinner and dessert all in one! The devil made me do it.

Craig: A garlic dish.

Kristin: More beer.

David: Tamales.

Overall score:

RYP: 4.5

JFP: 2.6

BEER: Lucky Town Flare Incident

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Appearance

Jonas: Opaque, brownish-black with a creamy head.

Thile: Dark, almost opaque.

Emily: Looks like espresso.

Andrew: Deep dark brown with garnet tones. Very little head.

Tyler: Looks like Coca-Cola.

Andrea: Dark and luscious. Looks like a true stout.

Aroma

Jonas: Dark, roasty malt with some coffee characteristics present.

Thile: Sweet, maple and oatmeal.

Emily: Dark, dark, dark chocolate-covered cherries—smells like Christmas at my parent's house, with morning coffee brewing in the background.

Andrew: Smoky cocoa and coffee, currants and dates and raisins. Somewhat like salted meat, too (strange, but I love it).

Kristin: Whoa brown sugar. Brown and yum. Not quite chocolate levels.

Gina: Chocolate, almost like candy.

Taste

Jonas: Dark maltiness with some initial hop bite.

Lacey: Coffee and chocolate with brown sugar and a touch of hop.

Gina: Creamy.

Kristin: Sweet like dark decadent dessert.

David: Caramelized sugar (almost burnt), woody.

Andrea: Too beer-y for me. Can't-finish tasting.

Body/Mouthfeel

Lacey: On the light side of medium.

Emily: Full, my mouth feels like its in heaven.

Tyler: Lighter than I expected.

Kristin: Smoother than I expected.

Gina: Tad bitterish.

Finish

Lacey: Coffee all the way.

Emily: Slight bitterness, but a wonderful bitterness, like goo-mai berries or espresso beans covered in chocolate.

Tyler: Definitely leaves its mark, sweet like maple syrup.

Gina: Yummy!

David: Lingering sugar.

The Food I'd Pair it With:

Thile: Barbecue, oaxacan mole and a Sal & Mookie's Stromboli.

Emily: Espresso or cookies & cream ice cream.

Craig: Oysters, chocolate cake or raspberries.

Tyler: Chicken and waffles

Gina: Red meat.

David: Potatoes.

Overall score:

RYP: 3.9

JFP: 3

BEER: Tallgrass Ethos IPA

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Appearance

Jonas: Golden yellow with nice thick, off-white head.

Lacey: Beautiful caramel with frothy head.

Emily: Neon orange—do I really want to try this?

Tyler: Looks carbonated like a mofo.

Kristin: Back to orange, with healthy foam.

Aroma

Jonas: Huge display of American hops. Floral, citrusy, piney hop aroma.

Emily: Smells like an unopened cabin at the lake that has been vacant for six months and wet towels have been left on the floor.

Craig: Sweet, sweet hops!

Tyler: Smells hop-tastic.

Kristin: Baaaaby hops. Bunny hops.

David: Orange and celery. Slight bitterness in middle.

Taste

Jonas: Balance favors hop flavor to American IPA style. Slight sweetness on the back end.

Emily: Actually surprised—lemony with a good blend of light hops.

Andrew: Not nearly as pronounced a hop character as the aroma. Actually very well balanced between malt and hops for a double-dry hopped IPA. Fruity sweetness comes through as main flavor.

Kristin: Stronger and dryer than expected. Hop-baby punch!

Gina: Floral.

Andrea: Tastes woody.

Body/Mouthfeel

Lacey: Medium, good carbonation.

Thile: Carbonic bite. Hop bitterness is nice and restrained.

Craig: Well-balanced, great beer.

Tyler: Tangy and interesting.

Gina: A tad bitter.

David: Full mouth, good carbonation.

Finish

Lacey: Bitterness lingers in a pleasant way.

Emily: Doesn't linger long, which is good.

Andrew: Bitter finish, just as an IPA should have.

Tyler: Has staying power, but its enjoyable.

Gina: No aftertaste.

Andrea: Makes me cough.

The Food I'd Pair it With:

Jonas: Gyro with grilled feta.

Lacey: Spicy food, sweet food, anything cheese.

Emily: Goes great with ham and cheese sandwiches.

Andrew: Tons and tons of cheeses.

Kristin: Blackened burgers.

David: Burger, roast chicken.

Overall score:

RYP: 4.4

JFP: 3.4

BEER: Lazy Magnolia Timber Beast

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Appearance

Lacey: Dark caramel with a great frothy head and lacing as I drink it.

Emily: Copper like all of the Belhaven porch lanterns.

Tyler: Like what beer is supposed to look like.

David: Thin to medium head. Dark red amber, clear.

Andrea: The perfect gold, much like an Olympic medal.

Aroma

Jonas: Hops forward with slight rye spiciness present.

Thile: Slightly herbal pungency.

Craig: Smells like pine trees.

Tyler: Like what beer is supposed to smell like.

Kristin: The Rocky Mountains call me.

Andrea: Woody.

Taste

Lacey: Tastes like awesome. Kind of explodes in your mouth.

Emily: Do you like rye bread?

Craig: Creamy sweet malt flavor.

Andrew: Hops are prominent (citrus fruits and some light plums), but it is balanced well with malty backbone.

Tyler: Like what beer is supposed to taste like.

Gina: Bitter on front end.

David: Nice full bitterness. Ends in caramel.

Body/Mouthfeel

Emily: Rye, rye, rye.

Craig: Bitter, but not too bitter.

Tyler: Like what beer is supposed to feel like.

Kristin: Good balance of hop bite and carb ... and tree.

David: Holds together well.

Finish

Jonas: Hop flavor lingers with alcohol warmth on the back end.

Thile: Residual hop bitterness, carbonic bit. Alcohol with faint watermelon.

Andrew: Sweet, bitter, hoppy finish. Yum!

Tyler: Like what beer is supposed to finish like.

Gina: Alcohol burn on the way down.

Andrea: No!

The Food I'd Pair it With:

Emily: Corned beef Reuben.

Craig: Caramel cake.

Andrew: Bread and butter, or whatever else you can find.

Tyler: Oxygen.

Kristin: Blue cheese burger at Sal & Mookie's.

Andrea: Gouda and crackers.

Overall score:

RYP: 4.6

JFP: 3.4

BEER: Yazoo Hop Project, Batch #72

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Appearance

Lacey: Caramel with some lacing that fades.

Thile: Golden orange, slight bubble.

Emily: Ostrich skin shoes come to mind.

Kristin: Orange, again, thin white foam.

Aroma

Jonas: Fruit, spicy hop aroma with some malty sweetness.

Craig: Mild hop smell.

Andrew: Slightly skunky, oniony, fruity hops. No malt character peeking through.

Tyler: Sweet as all get out. I can smell the hops.

Kristin: IPA smell ... or is that the pepperoni? Orange?

Andrea: Light pine.

Taste

Lacey: Spicy overload of delicious hops.

Emily: Heavy pecan taste. Hops aren't heavy. Really smooth—I can drink more than one of these.

Craig: Mild hop taste.

Andrew: Hops are citrusy and a little grassy, but good. Nutty bitterness and slight sweetness in background.

Tyler: Delicious, easy on the palate.

Kristin: Lighter than the Timber Beast.

Gina: My favorite IPA so far!

Andrea: I think the only IPA so far that I would drink.

Body/Mouthfeel

Thile: Carbonic, well-rounded.

Emily: I feel like I need a pecan pie.

Craig: Bitterness fades quickly.

Tyler: Heavier than I thought.

Andrea: Heavy.

Finish

Jonas: Surprisingly malty on the back end as hop bitterness fades.

Thile: Big cascade!

Emily: Hops linger for a second with small rye undertone.

Tyler: Not much aftertaste, which was surprising considering how strong it was.

The Food I'd Pair it With:

Jonas: Chinese hot pot.

Lacey: Everything.

Thile: Hop Project 72, or a Sal & Mookie's Stromboli.

Andrew: More beer.

Kristin: Olives. Weird, right?

Gina: Backyard barbecue and winter comfort foods.

Overall score:

RYP: 4

JFP: 4

BEER: NOLA Hopitoulas

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Appearance

Jonas: Yellow, amberish with good clarity. Poured an off-white head that faded quickly.

Emily: Bronze, nice head, wonderful lacing.

Andrew: Very nice clarity for an IPA. Good orange/amber color. Off-white head that persists.

Kristin: The silver can is deceiving. Whitish foam, golden color beer.

Gina: Pretty amber color, clear.

Andrea: Ooooh, a true beer. Perfectly golden.

Aroma

Jonas: Biscuity malt with slight hops. More in line with East Coast-style IPA.

Lacey: Malty sweetness prevails.

Emily: Smells like watermelon and strawberries—no hops at all.

Craig: #BIGCASCADE!

Andrew: Sweet and tart cherries. Some bready, cracker-like grain characters present.

Kristin: Smells like grass.

Andrea: Malty.

Taste

Lacey: A little malty for my taste.

Thile: Very nice malt-hop balance.

Andrew: Sour citrusy hops and a nice, triscuit background from the malt. Not much sweetness.

Kristin: The sun is setting, the weather is warming, the beer is cool. Yeah.

Gina: Bitter at first but great finish.

Body/Mouthfeel

Thile: Malty citrus (big cascade!).

Emily: Light coating, but goes away before your second sip.

Craig: Tingly.

Andrew: Finishes somewhat tart and astringent (puckery).

Kristin: Carby sparkle in the middle of the tongue.

Andrea: No foam/bubbles.

Finish

Jonas: Crisp, hop bite that lingers.

Lacey: Spicy.

Emily: Doesn't last except a few seconds of hops.

Kristin: Back of the mouth spark; smooth otherwise.

The Food I'd Pair it With:

Jonas: Spicy gumbo.

Thile: Hop Project 72 and a Sal & Mookie's Stromboli.

Emily: Watermelon or chicken fettuccini.

Kristin: Not olives.

Andrea: Fish tacos.

Overall score:

RYP: 3.5

JFP: 3.6

See more photos from the Taste-Off at jfp.ms/beertasteoff2013.

Meet Our Experts

The Raise Your Pints team consisted of Raise Your Pints President Craig Hendry Jonas Outlaw and his wife, Lacey, Emily McLarty, Brad "Thile" Justice and Andrew Oswalt. Team JFP was Kristin Brenemen, Tyler Cleveland, Andrea Thomas, Gina Haug and David Rahaim.

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