Epic Brewing is well known for making delicious and very hop-forward beers, and it appropriately took home quite a few medals last year. The original brewery was opened in Utah, where it was the state’s only high alcohol content beer produced, but last year it opened a second brewery in Denver, Colorado. The second brewery was really meant to help the brand expand its distribution and line of beers, but also includes a large tap room.
What’s really interesting about the two brewhouses is what we have pictured above. Two Epic beers with different names and different labels. But from what we hear, these two beers are more alike than you think – they are, in fact, made using the same exact recipes.
But they taste completely different!
Why? Hop Syndrome is brewed in Salt Lake City, Utah. Blue Ski Lager is brewed in Denver, Colorado. Hop Syndrome has Weyermann Pilsner and Munich malts, so does Blue Ski. They seem to have the same ingredients except for one thing: the water!
Just like those New York bagels everyone loves so much, water can affect the flavor and character of your product. There are different levels of sulfates, chlorines, carbonates…. A lot of breweries have sophisticated filtration technology to maintain consistency with their beer, but in this case the same beer is in different states.
Hop Syndrome, which was brewed on March 3 in Utah, is a much more bitter beer and has an ABV of 4.8%. The aroma is bitter and sharp, the flavor has that dry, Pilsner finish. Blue Ski tastes, to me, much more like a lager as it has that kind of creamed corn flavor that I’m sooooo sensitive to when it comes to lagers. It’s a little nuttier but much lighter on the bitter hops flavor and has a 5.3% ABV.
The first time I tried these beers, I liked Blue Ski better as it seemed smoother, less bitter. The second time I did the side-by-side, I liked Hop Syndrome more. I recommend doing a little side by side taste test, and let us know what you think!
A big thank you to Matthew over at Epic, who assured us that our source is incorrect and the two beers are two different recipes.
“The hop bill in Hop Syndrome,” he writes, “is much more aggressive and is what some consider as an emerging style of Hoppy Lager or IPL. The real UT to CO lager comparison would be between Pfeifferhorn lager and Blue Ski lager. There is a discernible water chemistry difference. Pfiefferhorn has a closer chloride to sulfate ratio and seems to be crisper on the finish with slightly more hop perception.”
While we’re slightly disappointed we hadn’t cracked the case on this one, we’re always happy to have an excuse to drink more Epic beer!