September 13, 2014 by Alex Hannagan
Heading into this college football season, we decided to be cheeky and have a theme on top of a theme for our UVa tailgate. Why UVa? Because we all graduated from there, and we’re absolute sadists when it comes to sports. For a number of years we’ve been frequenting Camp Wahoo (@CampWahoo), a stone’s throw from UVa’s stadium with a good mixture of locals and alumni. The first idea was to have tastings of a variety of Virginia beers, review the new ones, and maybe pick a winner. Been there, patented that cliché…boring. The fresh idea was to not only have a theme for all the beers, but to tie that beer to UVa’s opponent, the tailgate food theme, and eventually, let guests pick it. We struggled a bit out of the gate, as with the first opponent being UCLA there wasn’t a definitive style which we could judge the locals against the guests. BUT WAIT!! Thanks to local favorite Port City, I remembered that their seasonal Derecho is based on a steam beer, aka California Common Lager! And with that, the Tailgate Throwdown was born.
Tailgate Throwdown: California Common Lager
Game: UCLA vs. UVa, August 30, 2014
Featured Beers: Port City Derecho Common, Lost Rhino Steampunk
# of Tasters: 3
This being the inaugural Tailgate Throwdown, let’s establish some ground rules. First, as the idea has grown the last couple of weeks it’s become pretty clear that the only consistent element from week to week will be tasting notes, a crowd-sourced score, my score, and an all-around winner. Second, since we are trying to get the crowd involved the tasting notes may be all over the place, and we won’t be putting any words into anyone’s mouths (like, “did you get some floral in the aroma?”) Third, any scores here have a lot of variables involved which are wholly inconsistent with our official reviews, so should not be taken as a reflection on the beers themselves…meaning, it’s beer! It’s fun! Let’s judge some stuff!
Beer #1: Steampunk, Lost Rhino Brewing Company
Profile: Almost a hybrid with an amber lager with a bit of caramel aftertaste, with the appearance to match.
Tasting Notes: “Silky.” “Malty.” “Why in the name of Apollo are we drinking this when it’s 90 degrees out?!”
Overall: While not a good complement to a summer tailgate, the expertise with which Lost Rhino blends its styles still shines through. Paired very well with the sloppy joe pasty puffs some devilish person dreamed up.
Crowd Score: 8.0
My Score: 7.0
Beer #2: Derecho Common, Port City Brewing Company
Profile: Started out as a Witbier, then steamed at higher temperatures – think of a cloudy pale ale.
Tasting Notes: “Nuttier than I’d have thought, but with a bit of pine in there, too.” “Looks like a lager but tastes like an IPA.”
Overall: More suited to the day and the temperature, but didn’t pair as well with the tailgate theme (breakfast).
Crowd Score: 6.0
My Score: 6.0
Final Thoughts: Okay, admittedly our first run at this concept wasn’t without its hitches. Beer and breakfast aren’t what you’d normally pair together, but that was the hand we were dealt by the Camp Wahoo overlords. I also blame Ben for ignoring the theme altogether and bringing some Striped Bass Pale Ale to distract us. We also faltered by drinking full cups of each beer – not that there’s anything wrong with that! – which given the heat of the day changed the beer profiles tremendously as they warmed up. The California Common style is also hard to find, especially in growler form, so we decided going forward that bottles would be acceptable entries. But as you’ll see, the idea itself has some legs and we’re continuing to refine it (which is why I waited so long to post this first one). So with all those caveats, our first Tailgate Throwdown winner is…
Winner: Lost Rhino Steampunk