Killed by a Cowgirl

As you may have heard, I initiated a challenge with Lonerider Brewing Company a few weeks ago, claiming that my home brew brown ale was as good as their Sweet Josie brown ale.  Lonerider was kind enough (and confident enough) to step up to the challenge and offer up a 12-pack of freshly filled bottles of Sweet Josie for us to use in a not-so-official blind taste testing.

Last night, we gathered with Richard from NCbrewing.org, Charles and his wife from brewthebeer.com and Hop Tart, Ted from the soon-to-open bottle shop Bottle Revolution, and Brent from Local Barleigh to carry out the tasting.  Clearly we had a group of very well-qualified beer folks.

Everyone was poured a 5-ounce sample of both the Sweet Josie and my self-proclaimed “Cowboy Killer” brown ale, not knowing which beer was which.  As we drank the beers, we each wrote down our thoughts in categories such as aroma, flavor, mouthfeel, appearance, etc. and then tallied up their total score out of 50 possible points.

Along with tasting some great beer, we had some great conversations about home brewing, the future of sour beers, and of course everyone wanted to get the inside scoop on Bottle Revolution and what it has in store for Raleigh.

After everyone had time to write down their thoughts (and go back for seconds, if needed), I tallied up the scores.  Knowing that Sweet Josie is a favorite among the craft beer community and has racked up several medals at competitions including the Great American Beer Festival, I was hoping that maybe at least one person would have rated my beer higher…and now was the moment of truth.

As I read aloud the scores, it was comforting to see how close they all were.  My beer had withstood the test and most people liked it almost as much as the Sweet Josie, but alas, everyone in the room with the exception of my lovely wife (who was probably slightly biased) chose the Sweet Josie as the winner.  The sharp-shooting cowgirl had taking me down off of my high horse.

The best part (for me) was later being able to read all of the great feedback.  The general consensus was that the Sweet Josie had a fuller body (which is true because I didn’t use any toasted or biscuit malt, whereas Lonerider clearly does) and was a creamier pour (they use beer gas, compared to my CO2).  My brown ale was lighter-bodied and more crisp, while the Sweet Josie is a more full-bodied smooth drinking beer.

So cheers to you, Lonerider, for stepping up to the challenge.  We all enjoyed the tasting and had a great time.  Now it is back to the drawing board to start planning for the next homebrew challenge…

9 Comments

Charles

What a fun challege. Chris’ beer is fantastic! Thanks to LoneRider for being awesome. After having a pale ale that Chris brewed, I think we might have a Peacemaker challege!

It just goes to show what a simple comment on untappd can do!

Chris

Thanks Charles! I have not yet perfected either my brown ale or pale ale recipe. However, I am willing to put my Irish Dry Stout or my American Wheat up against almost anyone (looking at you Guinness), haha.

But seriously, it was a lot of fun, and we’ll have to organize another style challenge in the future and try a bunch of different brews, compared to a local beer of the same style. I think you can really learn a lot that way.

Eric

What a great way to get feedback on your homebrew. Work on a Utopias comparison with Sam Adams and I’ll drive up for the tasting. 🙂

Chris

Hey Eric – if you bring me a Utopias to try and base my brew off of, then I will certainly do it! One of those epic beers I have yet to get my hands on.

HopTart

I had a great time. Your beer was awesome, just a very different brown than LoneRiders. It was great to finally meet some of the people I have been talking to for months now.
Anytime you want to do another home brew challenge, let me know, I’m in. Great beer, great conversation, it couldn’t have been a more enjoyable night. Thank You Richard (and wife) for letting us take over your living room and for providing some interesting mood lighting 🙂

Ben

What a cool idea. Great write-up and breakdown of the differences in the two as well. You guys should seriously do this on a regular basis. Would love to see different homebrewers from the area take on different NC beers.

Chris

Ben – thanks for dropping by! Can’t wait to get my hands on Saxapahaw’s next big thing.

I agree – I think I learned a lot through this process, and I hope the other homebrewers and taste-testers in the crowd did as well.

You make a great point – it could be a LOT of fun to have regularly scheduled brewery competitions and open the door to any NC home brewers interested. We could gather at the hosting brewery once every couple of months and pass around samples of everyone’s brew, including the brewery’s beer and have everyone in attendance score them according to the BJCP score sheets and then declare a winner. See if the breweries can dominate or if some homebrewers can upstage them.

If this is something you’re interested in, I may get the word out over to Big Boss, Fullsteam, Roth, of course Lonerider, and any others. We could have a pretty good circuit going on. Shoot me an email and let’s chat sometime.

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