Welcome, survivors! And if you’re only here because you check the site every day, I’m still glad you’re with us.
The fact of the matter is, today marks Round Two of You’re Bringing What to my Party?! Which means that, yes, we made it through Round One unscathed.
So with that, we will party on.
Did you notice that one of these things is not like the others?
DPA and 5 Barrel are both English-style Pale Ales, and Mirror Pond is an American Pale Ale. For those of you who are not familiar with the difference between the two, while the American Pale Ale has British roots, it is not made of all-English ingredients. All-English ingredients, while not a requirement, are a hallmark of the English Pale Ale style. Additionally, you’ll often find that the American Pale Ale lacks some of the buttery, balanced flavors that are typical of English Pale Ales. But what it lacks in the department of buttery and balanced, it makes up for with a crisp hop flavor.
What you’ll notice this round: Our breweries are unabashedly vague in their descriptions of their beers beyond the fact that they are hoppy. Either the beers I chose this week are that incredibly nondescript (please accept my apologies in advance if that is the case) or we need to get them some new copywriters. I err on the side of them needing new copywriters.
Since we were up north for this tasting and, sometimes, more is more, my father, Bill, joined us. I knew you wouldn’t mind that I included his notes and opinions, as well.
Odell 5 Barrel Pale Ale
Odell writes that the 5 Barrel gets an infusion of fresh whole hop flowers and four hop additions during the kettle boil.
Kat: The 5 Barrel is preceded by a really strong hop aroma. However, the actual hop flavor is much, much milder. I really appreciate that because even though I am a hop fan, I’m not a hop maniac like some drinkers. I’d also say that the mouthfeel of this beer is on the order of something with big bubbles like club soda. Big bubbles don’t necessarily “work” with every beer, but here I enjoy them.
Marcus: I find it to be slightly hoppy, with a little bit of caramel. I’d say that it smells much hoppier than it actually is and I love the smell of the hops. I could sniff this all day and be happy. But scent is not why beers are brewed. In terms of drinkability, it’s very clean with a slightly bitter finish.
Bill: For me, it’s crisp but I really taste an alkaline bitterness that I find to be off-putting.
Deschutes Mirror Pond Pale Ale
Deschutes tells us that Mirror Pond has a distinct hop nose and hop-forward flavor, and that it is aromatically complex, multilayered and unmistakably “right.”
Kat: What I’m getting on the nose is more of a black tea. I get the hops in the middle but they’re extremely mild. Nothing about this is really “forward” hop-wise. The rest of the beer tastes really smooth to me, for lack of a better term. I guess that’s what you get when you go for “unmistakably ‘right.’”
Marcus: This has a far less hoppy scent, but a much hoppier flavor. It leaves more of a lingering aftertaste, too, which I think is a really good thing. Most of the time I don’t want to forget that I’m drinking a pint halfway through it. This beer does not let me down.
Bill: The nose on this is drastically muted. The flavor is very balanced but it almost has a metallic taste to me.
Great Divide DPA
Great Divide, despite a label proclaiming the DPA to be a “Denver Pale Ale”, says that it is a classic pale ale. It has a malty middle and an equally hearty complement of hop aroma, flavor and bitterness.
Kat: I would be doing y’all a great disservice if I didn’t tell you that I have a major thing for Great Divide’s graphic design. The bottles, the case art, all of it. I would drink Great Divide beers just to be seen holding the bottle, so to that end, please do not ever pour it into a glass for me. All of that aside, something about the nose of this beer is outright offensive to me for reasons I am unable to pinpoint. The mouthfeel is fine, and the maltiness of the beer is actually really nice. I have to say that I was a little bit surprised by the hoppy finish. It just didn’t feel predictable or logical to me.
Marcus: I’d have to say this is definitely the maltiest of the three. But, I still don’t know that I would describe it as truly hoppy – that might be a bit of a stretch. A strong hop flavor isn’t required to make a great beer, but striking a good balance between the flavors in your glass is. It’s borderline seasonable, so I’d be able to drink this without complaint through the fall.
Bill: There’s a subtle floral scent that I enjoy – I think they really found a good balance of malt and hops here.
I know you’re dying to know what pale ales you should be bringing to the party.
Marcus and Bill
1. Great Divide DPA
2. Deschutes Mirror Pond Pale Ale
3. Odell 5 Barrel Pale Ale
1. Odell 5 Barrel Pale Ale
2. Deschutes Mirror Pond Pale Ale
3. Great Divide DPA