Dateline 04/19/2012, by Radon86
Blind Taste Test - Alhambra Negra vs Krombacher Dark vs Noche Buena 2011
This test pits 3 Dark Beers of three different beer styles (Bock, Schwarzbier & Euro Dark Lager) against one another in a blind taste test. The results were surprising enough that I changed one beer's rating.
One of these beers was clearly lighter than the other two. However the two darkest were so close in color, I couldn't definitively say which one was the darkest. One beer had substantial head, while the others did not.
Noche Buena 2011 - The beer that turned out to be Noche Buena 2011 was the beer that was the lightest in color of the three. As it turns out it was also the lightest in flavor and it really wasn't close. The good news is that the flavor was nice, it was just so light, especially compared to the other two beers in this test.
Alhambra Negra - The beer that turned out to be Alhambra Negra was one of the two darkest beers in this test, and although I wouldn't say it was definitive, if I had to choose I'd say this one was ever so slightly lighter than the beer that turned out to be Krombacher Dark. This beer had virtually no head. This had a much deeper flavor than the beer that turned out to be Noche Buena 2011, in fact, I think its flavor was also deeper than the beer that turned out to be Krombacher Dark. That being said, I think I would have preferred a little richer flavor. What was present was a decent dark roasted flavor, pretty nice compared with the other two beers in this test.
Krombacher Dark - The beer that turned out to be Krombacher Dark had a nice head and if pressed to choose which beer was darkest out of the three, I'd choose this one, but it was close. When it comes to mouth-feel this beer probably took the crown as its mouth-feel was almost nitro-like, it really stood out from the other two beers in that respect. The other thing that caused this beer to stand out was that it was the dryest beer, and technically probably had the most flavor or at least the most roasted flavor. That being said, when one talks of all around flavor, I sort of think Alhambra Negra had a little more well roundedness.
So, which beer did I like the best,... Well, this was one of those tests that changed over time. In other words, as the beers warmed, my preferences skewed. The one beer that was never in the race was Noche Buena 2011, it was very light and stayed very light, so although it certainly wasn't bad, it clearly was my least favorite of the three beers. But the favorite? Well, I suppose I'd give that to Alhambra Negra. After the first sips, that was my clear choice actually due to its, shall we say, well rounded flavor. However, as the beers warmed, I liked the beer that turned out to be Krombacher Dark more and more to the point that by the end of the test, I'm telling you, it was probably a wash, or maybe even a Krombacher Dark victory. I'm giving it to Alhambra Negra though as for most of the test, it was the beer I was enjoying the most. Which was also the biggest surprise as I had recently given it a rating of 6, two points below Krombacher Dark. The one thing I detected in the review that I did not seem to detect in this 3 beer blind taste test was adjunct flavor. So, I don't know what that's about. But I'm going to raise Alhambra Negra's rating by at least 1 right away as it clearly exceeded my original rating for it. The one thing the Krombacher Dark probably did win from the beginning was mouth-feel and it certainly had the most roasted flavor, but I was kind of digging the milder but still flavorful Alhambra Negra throughout almost this entire test as it was only at the end where Krombacher Dark really made me rethink my decision. Perhaps if the beers had started at a different temperature, there would have been a different result. In addition, I'm always worried about the artificialness of drinking three beers essentially simultaneously affecting the results. Nevertheless, it is what it is, and on this day; I think Alhambra Negra was the beer I enjoyed the most. Just remember though, as always, the best beer is the beer you like best.
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