As I found out in my trip to Kentucky, there is a lot and by a lot, I mean a LOT of bourbon out there and finding a favorite is hard especially at some of the bottle price points.

Enter Blind Barrels.

You can get a quarterly subscription or annual. Annual has a price saving. You get four samples of unknown whiskey. You get tasting notes and a QR Code to show who made it as well as a link to buy it if it strikes your fancy.

Thinking about this for my birthday.

Pre Post Pandemic Blind Tasting

As we go back under lock key until the morons of the country vaccinate, now might be a good time to return to Zoom but with a blind tasting instead a boring meeting.

This method require driving and some coordination but it also removes the need for an impartial steward. Each member of your blind tasting needs to buy the listed target number of beers needed. Each person in the tasting then covers up the label as best they can and numbers them, keeping a chart handy. Make sure you are working from one package size. A 12oz can or bottle will stick out like a sore thumb.

Then each person drives the masked beer to a designated recipient. This keeps the mystery going. Then set-up your zoom and taste. Since the beers might be in different orders, it adds a layer of detecting if your friend’s #2 beer was your #1.

Then see who can guess beers right or just rank them.

No Labels

As readers will know, I am a fan of stealing great ideas from elsewhere and here is another fine example….

The Growler Magazine of Minnesota has launched—Unlabeled: A Blind Tasting Showdown.

The twist? Well there are two. First, “the tasting is 100 percent blind and only one specific beer style will be poured at each event in the Unlabeled series. Each beer will be “unlabeled” and guests won’t know which brewery made which beer until the grand reveal at the end of the event.”

Unlabeled No. 1, will have Minnesota-made Hazy IPAs and No. 2 will be an Oktoberfest both will use an app custom-made for the event to register your tasting notes and guesses.

I would love to see maybe ten breweries max do this in LA. Start with IPA cause that do sell tickets and maybe add in a food pairing component too.

Featured Review – Blind Tasting 2 – New American Pale Ales

For the second blind tasting, I chose pale ale, American-style, and I chose two distinctive beer cities and two distinctive breweries as subjects.

Would I be able to discern San Diego from Portland? Pizza Port’s new Graveyard Pale Ale or Gigantic’s Scrilla Pale Ale?

Beer 1 – pours an orange color with a tea and fruit punch aroma. This is crisp and very light and the fruit punch notes are quite prevalent. A bit tilted to the watery side.

Beer 2 – pours a bright yellow. Very vegetal with a strong cat pee note to it. That follows through to the beer which is not a favorite to me though the base malts hold it up better.

My guess is that 2 is Pizza Port and 1 is Gigantic. Am I right?
I was! But it was based on a hunch and not something concrete. I guessed that a lighter IPA wouldn’t fly as far in San Diego. Plus Graveyard smells like one. So two hints pushed me in that direction.

The Beer Tasting Tool Kit

Hopefully, on our craft beer journey’s we all have been to a blind tasting. Personally, I love seeing how totally off base I usually am. And also by now, we probably have all had at least a tasting or two (informal or not) at home to show off some great beer we just got.

Now, there is a handy pre-made kit to help you do your own blind tasting at home. Check out the full story HERE at the Beervana blog (which is one of my daily reads)

Ultimate Brown Bag

The awesome L.A. Beer destination, Blue Palms is holding it’s 2nd annual Ultimate Brown Bag party on June 11th. 24 beers with actual bags over them. Each hour a new set of 4-5 small pours arrives and YOU try to figure out what it is.

I spoke with Matt Olesh from Blue Palms about the event….

1) How do you go about selecting the beers? Do you avoid certain styles or brewers that have really defining characteristics?
The list of breweries that we chose was a result of looking at the breweries whom we support year-round that make consistent & quality beer. We then fine tuned that list with specific beers in mind that would fit into our ideas for hourly themes. There is also a natural proximity pattern, simply because there are so many fantastic California Breweries (which makes it easier to make pick-ups directly form the brewery if need be) but we did include a few out-of-state breweries as well. We did put some effort into avoiding requesting beers that would be over-the-top obvious, but that wasn’t a huge priority.

2) How many beers do you think people will be able to guess out of 24? Do you expect people to reconsider what beers they buy after this?
We’re thinking that it would be reasonable to guess about 4-6 beers, especially considering the speculative conversation that typically goes on in groups for these type of blind tastings. Any more than that, and I’d personally be pretty impressed.

Personally, I have had experiences in the brown bag nights that made me say, “Why the hell am I not picking up this beer more often?!”, and also, “Wow, that really was as good as people say it is!”. We are expecting a spread that will leave room for ‘hyped-up’ and ‘stand-by’ beers, to let people taste and decide for themselves what they like. I wouldn’t say we are aiming to change people’s buying patterns… but we may open some minds to unexpected beers, and to the fun experience of blind tasting.

3) What are some of the hourly themes?
Without giving away too much information too soon, or naming a theme that we may end up modifying, I’ll say that the “Got Wood?” hour is one that I am looking forward to a lot. This hour will introduce 5-6 beers that all have some wood-aged/fermented component to it.