Friday, May 09, 2014

Shock and awe: "Blind taste test: Indiana's best beers might surprise."

Love it.

Just plain love it.

Oaken Barrel is one of the oldest breweries in the state of Indiana, and because of its proximity in Greenwood, south of Indianapolis on the way home, I manage to stop in a couple times a year. Everything about Oaken Barrel is first-rate, and yet any poll of expert "beer geek" opinion as to the relative merits of Indiana beer probably would exclude it.

That's because Oaken Barrel isn't chic and fashionable. It's beers aren't rated highly enough at RateAdvocate. The beers aren't shipped halfway across the country by a boutique wholesaler.

And yet, when a true blind taste test of hoppier pale ales and IPAs is organized by the Indy Star's Neal Taflinger, Oaken Barrel's dowdy, available-for-years Gnaw Bone Pale Ale is the winner.

Louisvillians, note that by "true," I mean just that.

Unless institutional bias, pre-conceived notions and built-in prejudices are stripped away, the taste test is not really blind.

I'm happy that Oaken Barrel (and the venerable Mad Anthony) get recognition normally withheld from them by the usual trend-chasing arbiters. It's also confirmation that a newbie like Daredevil can hit the quality mark right out of the box ... and that all of this goodness can be affirmed in a remotely objective measure. Imagine that.

Blind taste test: Indiana's best beers might surprise

... I know which beers get the most buzz, but brand loyalty has as much to do with sense memory, marketing and peer behavior as the product itself. I wanted to know how casual craft beer drinkers would rate Hoosier Pale Ales and India Pale Ales (IPA) in a blind tasting.

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