Beer Night blindfold, made by the legendary Jeremy W.
The Origins of
the Beer Night Blindfold Taste Test
skip down to the Official Record)
In January of 1995,
Jon B traveled to Belgium for a memorable four days driving around with
a guy named Marino Verhenne in his exotic sportscar (a Pontiac Firebird,
believe it or not; "exotic" is always relative) visiting one
amazing brewery after another. Before it was all over, we had tasted 23
entirely different Belgian beers.
At one of the breweries
Brouwerij Bavik the master
brewer himself, Chris van Acker, gave the two of us a personal tour, then
invited us into the tasting room and began opening one tap after another.
And then he did something curious: he set three small glasses in front
of me and asked if I'd like to try an experiment. He had me tie a handkerchief
over my eyes before pouring different beers into the three glasses, but
not three different beers only two. (For those of you keeping
score, they were Bavik's Tripel Petrus and Oud Bruin.)
The idea of this experiment,
he said, was simply to pick which pair of glasses held the same beer,
which one had its own. (You may remember this from Sesame Street, but
I don't think they ever did it with fermented malt beverages.) Sometimes
it can be pretty easy but it's almost always harder than you expect.
The basic task and the blindfold force you to pay attention to your senses
of taste and smell, heightening your understanding and appreciation of
what you're drinking.
Thus on 19 January
1995 was transmitted the technique that would one day become the Blindfold
At each Beer Night we select at least one pair of tasters (usually one
newbie, one veteran), set before them two beers in three glasses, and
invite them to find the singleton, making interesting remarks along the
way. We eschew language of "success " and "failure"
for this test, though it's sometimes hard (<cough> Brad <cough>).
Invariably the tasters have plenty to say about the beers and that's
really the whole point.
As far as any of us
can remember, the Blindfold Taste Test has been a feature of Beer Night
from the very beginning. Much to our chagrin, we've been recording participants
and results only since Beer Night #13. (For the record, Andy D insists
it be made known that during an earlier, unrecorded BTT, he successfully
identified not only the style but even the brand of the beers a
triumph never yet equalled.) Beer Night #13 also marked the beginning
of a Beer Night tradition: the awarding of the coveted Hamm's Goblet
(pictured here) for an honorary quaff to the taster chosen by general
acclaim for his remarks.
Abe Q, declared the inaugural winner of the Hamm's Goblet, and Jon B,
who fails to identify the singleton (suspicious that there isn't one),
finally getting a taste of his own medicine.
Beers: Anchor Porter & Bell's Porter
(Conducted by Andy D and Brad F.)
Rob D and Brad F, both of whom find the singleton.
Beers: Bass Ale & Goose Island Blonde Ale
George H and Nick L, both of whom find the singleton.
Beers: Anchor Steam & Goose Island Honker's Ale
Tasters: Robert H and Dave C, who actually compares the beers
to a visit to Mammoth Cave and thus wins the Hamm's Goblet. (Both
find the singleton.)
Buckler (a BTT first: non-alc.) & Sam Adams Winter Lager
John P and Andy W, both of whom find the singleton. John wins the Hamm's
Goblet for his nailing the hefeweizen style and for calling the
Beers: New Glarus Spotted Cow & Sam Adams Weiss
Tasters: Joel B (who finds the singleton) and Jeremy W ("the
taster with attitude," who doesn't care he's wrong about
Beers: Anchor Steam & Sam Adams Boston Lager
Mike "Fritz" M and Greg H. Both find the singleton. Greg wins
the Hamm's Goblet for unprecedented beer-flow (in a squeaker with Mike,
another crowd favorite for his dismissing the Three Floyds' as a beer
he "would never buy" though in fact he had bought
it this evening).
Beers: Bass Ale & Three Floyds' Pride and Joy Mild Ale
Tasters: Dan H and Eric B. Both find the singleton, and Dan raises
the bar for wine-tasting terminology.
Beers: Sam Adams Summer Ale & Blue Moon White Beer
Derek H and Jon B. Neither finds the singleton. Jon notches an ignominous Hamm's Goblet win for clinging to the belief that Brad has foisted a non-alc beer on him. (He then compounds his shame by picking both beers that are not singletons.) Derek lies low.
Beers: Goose Island Summertime Ale & Bell's
Tasters: Dick R and Peter E. Neither finds the
singleton making an unprecedented total shut-out
for the night. We apologize to them both for this being
a harder pair than we intended.
Beers: Newcastle Brown Ale & Anchor Steam
Tasters: Linc A and Brad F. Both find the singleton.
Brad alienates Dick R by unrelentingly ripping on the
beer he brought. Linc scores the Hamm's Goblet
with his truly great comments, despite (or perhaps because
of) his claim not to know anything about beer.
Beers: Peter's Brand Holland Pilsener & Modelo
Tasters: Max K and derek b. A challenging tasting,
hosted by Brad F, and only derek finds the singleton. Great
comments from both about lemons and "negative lingering."
Beers: Three Floyds' Alpha King & Sierra Nevada
Beer Night #19 — 26 June 2004
No BTT was held, with just five in attendance.
Beer Night #20 — 22
Tasters: Eric Br and Max H. Max finds the singleton.
Beers: Moretti & Singha
Tasters: Jim C and Andy D. Both find the singleton,
and Jim C garners the Hamm's Goblet, in an impressive
showing for a newbie.
Beers: Goose Island Black Toad
Ale & Young's Double Chocolate Stout (?).
Beer Night #21 — 18
Tasters: Tony G and Henry L. Tony G finds the
singleton and wins the Hamm's Goblet in an especially
challenging head-to-head of beers that are visually indistinguishable.
Beers: North Coast Red Seal & Two Brothers Bitter
End Pale Ale
Tasters: Devin and Dave KY. Both find the singleton. Dave
speculates that the darker tequila is lighter.
Beers <er> tequilas: Jose Cuervo Silver
& Sauza Commemerativo.