Saturday, December 8, 2007

AleSmith IPA/Ballast Point Dorado Double

On December 1st (the day of the Seasonal Tasting event) Brian Ford donated a couple of 22oz beers that he'd picked up on a trip South for his annual Thanksgiving weekend dirt-bike get away. We never came close to getting to them that day so Terri and I decided to heed the Beer Geeks ways and do our own little head-to-head tasting comparison.
The beers were Alesmith IPA and Ballast Point Dorado Double IPA. Typically we wouldn't necessarily match up a double against (against doesn't really seem the correct word either) a single IPA but in this case we wanted to try them both so we went for it. I have had the Dorado on one previous occasion, that being the Mammoth Mountain Bluesapalooza in August, and I wasn't that impressed. I also realize that that was a day literally over flowing with hoppy beers and it may have suffered my undeniable palate fatigue.
I have also read accounts of the Alesmith and it sounded like it could hold it's own.
Upon open opening the Alesmith IPA it's obvious grand hop-ness came roaring out with a flourish that only a great West Coast, or San Diego style as some prefer, IPA can offer. This IPA met all the style guidelines and then some, the pale gold appearance, solid mouth feel, big citrus flavor backed by a tongue teasing hop bitterness that we all love so well. Terri was smitten as well and compared it to the Green Flash West Coast IPA because of it's pepperiness and drinkability. The Alesmith showed big signs of it's bottle conditioning with major bottom floaters obvious even in the stark dark bottle packaging.
Initially the Ballast Point Dorado satisfied with it's typical double IPA sweetness but by the time we'd finished the bottle we were both looking at each other and pondering several oddities. For me the aroma had slight vegetal notes that distracted me while the grain bills overwhelming caramel aftertaste left me less than thrilled. Terri reported no detectable aroma and a touch of Cinnamon in the aftertaste. She also said "Both these beers are great" so her objections were very minor.
I overwhelmingly preferred the Alesmith in this comparison, which is not to say I disliked the Ballast Point offering. Given the opportunity to try the Dorado again I would most likely do so and if I found it in my local beer store I buy a bottle. As a double it doesn't really measure up to the standard of the industry Pliny the Elder....but then...what does?

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