Ken Carman is a BJCP judge; homebrewer since 1979, club member at Salt City Homebrewers in Syracuse, NY. Former member of Escambia Bay Brewers, Clarksville Carboys and Music City Homebrewers. Ken has been writing on beer-related topics, and interviewing professional brewers all over the east coast, for well over 20 years.
The Topic-A casual review of two breweries with the same brewer, and what may cause at least one difference between the two.
It was almost my birthday so what did we do? GO TO BREWERIES! I had had previous contact with Big Slide Brewery. Their beers looked interesting, as did their menu. The brewer also provided a second brewery he brewed at in his message to me: Lake Placid Brewery. Home to UBU Ale.
Right up front: this is no BJCP-driven review. More like a “drive by” commentary. By necessity we were more focused on “drive by” because of the distance from home.
In Lake Placid we stopped by two breweries. Two breweries with the same brewer: Kevin Litchfield.
How can THAT be interesting? Well, we found one distinct difference between the breweries. But, before that, other notes….
The first visit was to Big Slide. Small, comfortable, establishment on the way to the site of the Olympics. Last time I was here I was a student at Town of Webb in Old Forge, NY, and performing at All State Choir along with my fellow classmates. They were still building the slide and everything else.
At Big Slide we had the “Birra Torta.” The menu called it “Chile Beef Stew, grinder roll, pepper cheese, cilantro, cup of birra broth for dipping.” Especially this time of year (winter) I was expecting a beef stew with a chili spin. No, it was an EXCELLENT hoagie with marinated beef and a dip that was somewhat tasteless. Good for the waffle fries. Kind of threw us at first, but pleasurable. May I suggest up front the hoagie-like aspect to the description.
Unfortunately I lost my beer notes from Slide. Here is what I remember…
The Hot Pepper Pale: Good, but back off a little! Balance was definitely towards the pepper and hiding the beer somewhat.
Big Slide IPA: this qualified as a CLASSIC of the style.
Stout: everything a regular stout should be.
Summer Pale/Seasonal: hard to describe. Malty with a pleasing hop balance.
We also had the double IPA, which I will get to soon, because that’s where the comparison and the discussion enters.
For now let’s say at all these places we got the sample tray.
Lake Placid Brewery: great cheesy White Bean Chili with some hefty chips.
Lake Placid Brewery: home to UBU Ale.
Here is what we had…
Moose: a very light, slightly fruity, ale. I told the guy next to me, a Bud Lite drinker, that that may come the closest to what he wanted of their brews.
Boysenberry Sour: very enjoyable. If this is a kettle sour I didn’t get that. Talent.
Kentucky Common: SOMEONE HAS BEEN STUDYING THEIR STYLES! Just what one would expect: slightly malty with a DMS/corn sense, as one would expect.
ESB: it is what it is, classic malty and bitter, not quite tipping over into IPA territory. Tad dark for the style, IF I remember right.
NYS Pale:: a pale that seems patterned after Sierra’s Pale, which IMO (and Millie’s) is almost an IPA.
Unicorns:: an NEIPA that’s hazy, yet more IPA than a hazy. Much like what a few NEIPAs are like: the hops and the fruity aspect to the hops seemed to be doing battle with each other. In this case the hops win. (IMO, if you’re going to do hazy, do hazy, fruity. There are enough bitter beers out there, especially in the US.)
Godsend DIPA: fruity, more caramel-ish than Slide’s (could be the water?) Pleasantly soft on the palate.
Red Wheat Wine: this was a surprise. I suspect it’s the red in the wheat. I have judged Wheat Wine with as much of an objective point of view as one can have. But I must admit: I don’t care for it. However, this is EXCELLENT. Deceptively smooth, malty, wheat-y, I could get in trouble if I had more.
UBU: Unlike my very early tastings of UBU I was impressed, mostly because I finally knew what style it was. I had it so long ago the bottles just said “UBU.” Could I have missed it? Sure. Malty. Hops just a high for ESB, but otherwise excellent. Kind of an Extra Bitter?
Porter: Too hoppy, but this a personal observation. The trend over the years in America has been to over hop EVERYTHING, I swear. This one is high enough, IMO, you miss the goodness of a porter: the darker, luxurious, malts that slip down the tongue like liquid satin. Enjoyable, but the hops distract from porter pleasure.
The distinct difference between the breweries was their double IPA. I asked the server at Placid and she told me they were the same recipe. Since the breweries have the same brewer I found the fact the two were not the same interesting. This mystery MAY be solved by the water. At Slide we were given a glass milk-like jar of water. We both felt that the chlorine level was high, Millie thought it was mostly just in the nose, I thought it was both. Though I would agree more nose than taste not that much more.
No chlorine issue at Lake Placid. Now the chlorine does boil off in the brewing process, but it certainly can affect flavor. At Slide it was more hoppy, more bitter and less balanced between the the hops and the malt. At Placid the balance was better, the quaff smoother, the malt firm and yet smooth. They were different beers.
However, another possibility: someone used a very light bleach solution on the milk bottle. We’ve seen that before at a brewery in Ohio. But that doesn’t explain the difference between the two, if they are the same recipe.
I’d love to sit down and judge both using a BJCP sheet. But this was a birthday celebration and the pubs were packed on President’s Day.
I do recommend both. They don’t have exactly the same brews, and Placid has a little more of the corner pub experience to it. Plus, hey, they’re both local and important to the Lake Placid experience.
I DON’T recommend trying both and then doing the Olympic high jumps. That could get very messy!
Despite any criticism we enjoyed both. A great birthday was had.
Brew Biz: Werts and All, is a column dedicated to reviewing, discussing, and commenting on, beer-related topics including, but not limited to: marketing, homebrewing and homebrew/beer related events, how society perceives beer. Also: reviews of beer related businesses, opinions about trends in the brew business, and discussions regarding all things beer.
Ken Carman and Cartenual Productions
all rights reserved