The two Europeans lined up against each other first. On the left the Czech beauty Budvar, and on the right a German from Dortmund, DAB. Quite a contrast to look at in the glass, with the Budvar both darker and with with much less head, both proved an equal contrast in taste. The DAB was crisper and 'deeper,' with almost a hint of mushroom, but all the tastes very subtle. If drinking the DAB was like eating an apple with a hint, the Budvar was like a malt biscuit with a small side of hops. Very tasty. Neither had much aroma to speak of, but the tastes were superb, and beautifully integrated. The afternoon, ahem, the tasting had started well.
In the European semi-final then, the Czech beauty proved a narrow, but unanimous winner with its extra flavour just getting its 'head' above that of the other competitor.
So to the two New Zealand charmers, the Limburg Hopsmacker and the Macs reserve. Both are attractive in the glass (bear in mind the Hopsmacker is an ale) and both have full and attractive aromas -- the Hopsmacker exceedlingly so -- but after the two Europeans these local lovelies were far less subtle and much more, um, robust. My regular beer correspondents might disown me for saying so, but from the first sip it was clear that whoever won this local derby, the eventual winner would be from Europe.
Of these two locals however the Hopsmacker was the clear favourite. Taste aplenty, as there was also in the Macs Reserve, but the Hopsmacker's flavours seemed somehow more integrated, and the Reserve's bitter after-taste lost it points by the hop-load.
So to the Final, and following the final taste-off, and then another for third and fourth, and then just a few more to make sure of the results -- and then doubly sure since we wouldn't want to make any mistakes (by which time both 'tasting room' and tasters could well fit the description implied by the phrase "a mess") the taste test results looked like this (once we got our notes in order):
- Budvar - just like the Miss World contest, the Czech beauty got the crown.
- Limburg Hopsmacker
- Macs Reserve
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