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The Beer Circle » Beer, Beer Week, Tröegs Brewing Co. » Tröegs Scratch Beer Showdown: Jack Curtain vs. Lew Bryson

Tröegs Scratch Beer Showdown: Jack Curtain vs. Lew Bryson

Scratch Series Showdown

Philly Beer Week 2012 triggered a very intriguing match of beers from two local beer writers. Jack Curtain, he of the Liquid Diet blog, and Lew Bryson, writes Seen Through a Glass and the Session Beer Project, each teamed up with Tröegs Brewing Company to create a Scratch Series beer. On Sunday, June 3, the beers faced off against each other at the Standard Tap House in Philadelphia. While I was unable to attend the event, which had voting among the attendees, Tröegs tapped the beers in their Tasting Room so I decided to have my own “Scratch Series Showdown.” For some background information, see the embedded video below:

Scratch 66, named Biere De Grouch, is the brain child of Jack Curtain. Brewer Tim Mayhew provided assistance in brewing this beer. Jack likes his beers peppery and yeasty, so that was the goal of this brew, as it included cracked Tellicherry Black Pepper. Scratch 68, named Zwickel Licker, was developed by Lew Bryson with the help of Jeff Musselman. The beer is a Dortmunder Lager that was intended to provide a delicate barley aroma with an earthy bitterness.

Tröegs Scratch #66- Biere De Grouch (Jack Curtain)
The beer pours an amber color with a thin filmy white head. It has somewhat of a transparent color to it and might have been a little darker than I expected, but I chalk that up to the pepper addition.
The aroma consists of caramel, toffee, and tea. Hints of pepper are speckled in there as well, but it is not too overpowering of an aroma. It was a little hard to decipher or pick up any aroma as it wasn’t very strong, but what was there was mostly sweet and not too spicy.
The taste is spicy and dry with lots of tea flavor on the front end. Caramel, toffee, and grassy hops linger on the tongue before the pepper spice kicks in, leading to a dry finish. I thought it was a decent beer, but as it warmed it became unbearably sweet. I actually had to order a bottle of water to drink concurrently so that I could finish it. Needless to say, the pepper was completely overpowered by the malty sweetness of the base at higher temperatures.
The beer is medium-bodied on the tongue and rather sweet. As for drinkability, I could barely finish the entire glass due to its sweetness. If I were to drink it again, I would order a snifter and be sure to finish it while it was cold.
I recall this beer being about $5 at the brewery, so I think that’s a fair price for it.
I couldn’t believe how as the beer warms it gets sweeter and becomes slightly less. It started off with some good spicy flavors, but I just couldn’t keep ordering this beer, and I have yet to order a second one.

Beer Stats
Style: Biere de Mars
Serving: Draft
Size: 16oz
ABV: 6.80%
BA Score: n/a
RB Score: n/a
Tröegs Scractch #68 Zwickel Licker
The beer pours a golden color with a frothy white head. The light really is accentuated within the glass from the color and it is an attractive looking beer.
The aroma is faint, light toffee, hints of grass and earth. As with Scratch 66, the aroma is not too powerful of prevalent, but does give a slight preview of what’s to come.
The taste is light and tasty with toffee and hints of caramel, dry grass, earth, hay, and light lemon. It was a rather refreshing taste and all of the accenting flavors were balanced pretty well. The backbone was just sweet enough, but the earthiness really made the beer.
It was a light-bodied beer on the tongue that went down pretty easily without too much of a spice bite. Drinking several of these in one sitting would not be a problem at all, and would also be quite refreshing.
If I recall, this beer was about $5 in the Tap Room. While not the cheapest of beers, it was on par with other Tröegs offerings, all of which are a good value.
Light and crisp, this is an excellent summertime beer. It brings along just enough of a sweetness to balance, but really focuses of earthy and light citrus flavors. At 5.4% ABV, I’ve got to be honest in saying I was surprised that this was not a “session beer.” I also thought that this was the better of the two beers, as it had staying power with the flavors. In fact, I’ve since ordered an additional glass of it on a subsequent visit. Overall, I think both beers stuck to the traits of their writers. Jack’s beer was a bit more mean and rigid while Lew’s beer was easy going yet somewhat loud.

Beer Stats
Style: Dortmunder Lager
Serving: Bottle
Size: 16oz
ABV: 5.40%
BA Score: n/a
RB Score: n/a

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Written by Jeff Kupko

Jeff is a traffic engineer that loves his beer, and especially loves trying new beer. As a student at the University of Pittsburgh, Yuengling was a staple and the beginnings of liking something better than fizzy yellow water. This has evolved into an entire hobby, with Jeff keeping a blog of all of the beers he tries. Vacations most certainly involve at least one brewery or bottle shop visit to gather a region’s coveted fruits. Now, Jeff has ventured into homebrewing, and there is probably no saving him from being engulfed entirely by beer. While Imperial Stouts and IPAs rank highest in Jeff’s eyes, sours are sneaking up on those styles, and Jeff loves to try all different styles. Find Jeff Kupko on Google Plus

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