Friday, June 1, 2012

Growler Wars: Free Will vs. Long Trail

Two growlers. Two beers. Two frosted glasses. One winner.

Free Will Brewing Company 7 Course Red
I first had this beer at Chap's Taproom in Norristown (will do separate blog later) and, quite frankly, was blown away. It's got a reddish color. Almost brown. The malts shoot up the nose quickly as its brought up for the first sip. There's a dry, piney flavor that gives the beer an extra bit of character. Despite the full, complex flavors, it's smoothly textured. Smoky and almost stoutish, the beer just does not seem like the work of two guys from Perkasie. This is seasoned-veteran beer. A truly delicious specimen.

Long Trail Brewing Company Double IPA
Let's get the intangibles out of the way: It's a little bit of a cloudy golden color. The beer remains bubbly despite a ten-minute interval spent sipping the Free Will joint. Lively, full head. The scent is spectacular. Vibrant. Fruity. Citrusy. Floral. Truly one of the best aromas I've ever experienced in a beer. There is a very nice balance of hops and orangey flavor. Almost feels like a little bit of strawberry in the finish. If I were to have one complaint (and it would be nit-picky), I would say that it seems a tad bit light for a double IPA. Another application of hops and this beer might be completely next-level. While I have had a mixed experience with Long Trail, this is a completely legit IPA.

The Winner
Make no mistake about it: These are two exceptional beers. However, as a winner, I have to go with Free Will. The only (and I mean, only) reason I am going with Free Will is I don't believe Long Trail quite meets the grade of a double IPA. The hops are a little subtle for that genre of beer. So I am going to downgrade it slightly for not quite meeting its stated objective. While I believe 7 Course Red is the slightly better beer, the truth is, if you should see either of these beers on a tap near you, you should go ahead and make a purchase.

The Pizza Project
Just a nibble:
Single slice:
The full pie:

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