The relative nature of side by sides

Discussion in 'Beer Talk' started by zid, Feb 19, 2015.

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  1. zid

    zid Meyvn (1,358) Feb 15, 2010 New York
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    A beer on it's own can give me a very different impression when consumed alongside other beers. Common sense, I know, but I'm speaking of major shifts for the negative when paired. Differences that exist between the two beers can sometimes feel extremely exaggerated.

    For example, when I have a beer from cask alongside the keg version of the same beer, the carbonation in the keg version feels so prickly and pronounced that the beer becomes unenjoyable. When I have the kegged beer on its own, it's great and the carbonation is fine.

    Another example: There's a specific porter that tastes great when I have it on it's own. I feel it possesses a fruity complexity. Whenever I've had the beer in a side by side, it feels so overwhelmingly sweet that I can't even finish it.

    In each case, I feel that one beer inadvertently becomes the standard at which my perceptions become calibrated, and the other beer suffers from this in a way that betrays how one would really approach it.

    Why bother with this post? I guess I've seen far too many cases of beers pitted head to head and a victor declared.
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  2. hopnado

    hopnado Initiate (0) Aug 13, 2014 Michigan

    Over analysis... I think Anheuser made a commercial about this
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  3. BenwayPHD

    BenwayPHD Aspirant (289) Sep 4, 2014 California

    I agree completely. I find this most true when drinking ipas. The more aggressive beer terms to steal the show and make the lower ibu or abv ipa seem weak and lackluster. I also find with pilsner that i find the sweeter one to be less enjoyable.
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  4. marquis

    marquis Crusader (792) Nov 20, 2005 United Kingdom (England)

    This is what makes judging at beer competitions so difficult , the effects of one remain when tasting the next one. Basic rule is to progress from weak to strong but this isn't easy when drinking a selection of styles.
  5. TongoRad

    TongoRad Poo-Bah (2,661) Jun 3, 2004 New Jersey
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    When I do them by myself I am cognizant of this fact so I try to mitigate it by having two phases. The first is the initial small sampling with lots of palate cleansing in between. Then I finish each beer individually, to see if anything changes over the long haul- and sometimes there are, depending on the beers.
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  6. zid

    zid Meyvn (1,358) Feb 15, 2010 New York
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    You mean the one with the frogs? If so, I'm guilty as charged.
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  7. drtth

    drtth Poo-Bah (4,006) Nov 25, 2007 Pennsylvania

    What you are describing is something most people don't bother to think about and results in part from the fact that among our senses the sense taste is the slowest to recover from having been stimulated. This effectively suppresses the commonalities and enhances the differences. But it does have its upsides. For example if you can find a Boubon Barrel aged beer and its base beer (e.g., Weyerbacher Heresy and Weyerbacher Old Heathen) you can do a side by side and develop a much clearer sense of the contribution of the Bourbon Barrel to beers aged in barrels.
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  8. rozzom

    rozzom Champion (855) Jan 22, 2011 New York

    Totally agree, which is one of the reasons why I don't even click into "Epic Stout Tasting Results!" threads.

    I've told this (very boring) story before, but a year or two ago I was at a friend's place, waiting for a couple of other guys to come round so we could crack some BCBCS. While we were waiting we had an FBS each. Tasted as good as ever. The other guys showed up when I was about 3/4 of the way through the glass of FBS. We opened the BCBCS and drank them. Delicious. I then finished the FBS - unsurprisingly it seemed thin and tasteless. Now I know people probably wouldn't do a tasting between these two beers, but it just illustrates that when someone does a KBS (~11%) vs BCBCS (~13.5%, and very coffee forward) tasting, BCBCS "winning" should elicit a "no shit" response.
  9. bluehende

    bluehende Poo-Bah (2,150) Dec 10, 2010 Delaware

    I have an actual example of this with food. Our church had a chili cook off. One of the categories was hottest. My chili was set up right next to the winner of this category. You can imagine someone just trying to make an inedible hot chili. We could see our score sheets. The line to try went both ways so approximately half tried the hot one first. With 30 people and 20 chiles I received 10 1st and seconds. I also received 15 scores at the very bottom. I have a good guess why.
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  10. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (4,258) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    I often conduct side-by-side tastings of two beers of the same style. Below are some links for tastes tests I have posted on BA threads.

    I have yet to experience during these (or other) side-by-side tastings that the beers tasted significantly different from drinking the individual beers alone.

    One side-by-side tasting was Nugget Nectar with one being served on cask and the other served via regular draft. I did indeed notice the difference in the qualities of the beer but the regular draft did not come off as being prickly or unenjoyable. Of the two versions I preferred the regular draft since I though the cask delivery method muted the hop aromatics.

  11. zid

    zid Meyvn (1,358) Feb 15, 2010 New York
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    Perhaps you are good at cutting through this. I do not always have this experience. In the cases when I do, the difference is so amped that it's impossible for me to shake it off. It's not coming from deep contemplation.

  12. azorie

    azorie Champion (884) Mar 18, 2006 Florida

    When you say side by side, are you drinking 1 and then waiting what a few seconds and drinking the other 1?

    If so, why? LOL
  13. zid

    zid Meyvn (1,358) Feb 15, 2010 New York
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    @azorie , you forgot to use emoticons. :slight_frown::wink::slight_smile:
  14. azorie

    azorie Champion (884) Mar 18, 2006 Florida

    no its was serious question are you doing a side by review of the beer or what?:confused::confused:

    ie I never do that frankly.

    its why I never review beer , as a beer judge type setting. I seen some of these (on youtube) and I cannot remember if they do this or not?
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  15. zid

    zid Meyvn (1,358) Feb 15, 2010 New York
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    I'm just busting your chops!
    When I say side by side, I mean that I decide to open a Chimay Tripel and a Tripel Karmeliet together for simultaneous comparison. I'll drink some of one, some of the other, and so on. It's not how I'll normally enjoy a beer but just something to try to see how they compare. It can be illuminating but it has its limitations. I'm focusing on some limitations with this thread.
  16. azorie

    azorie Champion (884) Mar 18, 2006 Florida

    yea ok, I am on same page now. sorry its hard at times to picture what folks mean...:grinning:

    You know I have never ever done this on purpose. I drank 1 porter and finish it and drank the other but not to grade them.
    Strange its like mixing beers its just is not done in my book, lol.

    I was curious what you got out of it. I read all the above posts and shake my head wondering how some can do this....

    I tried it with a few wines before and they all taste the same to me after a few times going back and forth.
  17. AricGresko

    AricGresko Initiate (0) Jan 25, 2014 Pennsylvania

    The stronger beer definitely does make a lower abv or less hoppy/bitter beer seem weaker than it actually is.

    If I was doing a side by side comparison, I would be sure to have water to cleanse my palate between beers.
  18. JackHorzempa

    JackHorzempa Poo-Bah (4,258) Dec 15, 2005 Pennsylvania

    Maybe it is all in your mind!?!:wink:

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  19. FarmerTed

    FarmerTed Aspirant (209) May 31, 2011 Colorado

    I don't do side-by-sides much (if ever), but once I decided to compare Great Divide's Denver Pale Ale to FW's Double Barrel Ale. They're pretty similar, imo, but after drinking some of the GD, when I would taste the DBA, I swear all I could taste was banana. Nothing else. It was weird, because I otherwise have never tasted that in DBA. I guess FW uses a fruitier yeast than Great Divide, and that was what really stuck out for me. There's a YouTube video of a side-by-side of Founders, Great Lakes, Anchor and Deschutes porters (blind), and both tasters said that Black Butte had a prominent banana aroma and flavor. I doubt they would have noted that drinking it on its own.
  20. zid

    zid Meyvn (1,358) Feb 15, 2010 New York
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    Thanks for your post.
    It's funny that you'd mention barrel aging because I recently had Two Roads Worker's Comp and Worker's Stomp (white wine barrel aged Comp) together. I had a pleasant glass of Comp (saving some for later) followed by a glass of Stomp. Stomp is much more acidic. After the Stomp, I had what was left of Comp and it tasted ridiculously sweet... which it didn't at first - just like the examples I mentioned in my initial post. I had to eat some sweet cookies :slight_smile: and drink water before Comp tasted like it did at first.
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  21. Akerstache

    Akerstache Initiate (0) Feb 20, 2015 Germany

    Haven't really done any intentional side by sides but I did have a tasting with a buddy of mine once and we started out with a Schneider Weisse Tap 5 and then went for one of the better Pilsners (can't recall which) and that was a reeeeeeeeeeally bad idea. The Pilsner just tasted super thin and tasteless in comparison to the Schneider Weisse before and we both agreed on that.

    Didn't hurt when we tried a few Belgians consecutively after a Fuller's 1845, though. At least as far as I can remember, we may have already been slightly good at it when we arrived at the St. Bernardus Abt 12. (with the Westmalle Dubbel, Tripel and a Delirium Tremens before)
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  22. FarmerTed

    FarmerTed Aspirant (209) May 31, 2011 Colorado

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  23. Zimbo

    Zimbo Initiate (0) Aug 7, 2010 United Kingdom (Scotland)

    Remember Zimbo's maxim.

    It's not a competition.
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  24. TongoRad

    TongoRad Poo-Bah (2,661) Jun 3, 2004 New Jersey
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    There are definitely carryovers, and they will definitely do unexpected things. That's why I said 'lots' of palate cleansing above. I've seen too many people who will simply take a sip of water and think they are ready to proceed- it really does take a lot more than that.
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  25. yemenmocha

    yemenmocha Poo-Bah (2,552) Jun 18, 2002 Arizona

    I consider myself a blind tasting advocate. Side by side blind tasting advocate. That's how I arrived at my favorites.
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  26. zid

    zid Meyvn (1,358) Feb 15, 2010 New York
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    I hear yah. I also do the varying pour size routine. Whenever I do this with more than two beers, I change the order in which I drink them. For me, doing this highlights the effect I brought up originally.

    When I see posts that declare that Enjoy By is better than Double Jack (for example) because of a side by side. My reaction is always: perhaps you've figured out that you like Enjoy By better, or perhaps you've determined that you like Enjoy By better when drunk alongside Double Jack.
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  27. TongoRad

    TongoRad Poo-Bah (2,661) Jun 3, 2004 New Jersey
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    Yeah- without any sort of analysis in those posts (aside from the statistical type that always seems to be present :wink:) I tend to gloss over them myself..
  28. mikepcarney

    mikepcarney Initiate (0) Oct 28, 2009 Ohio

    I will do side by sides of regular vs variants. Also of the same style. It allows the pallet to pickup more IMO.
  29. aasher

    aasher Poo-Bah (2,845) Jan 27, 2010 Indiana

    One beer will be ruined. King Henry killed the Mother of All Storms for me.
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