Every day I come home from I work and head upstairs to change into more casual clothes. Casual generally means one of two things: sweatpants or house jeans. House jeans, for those unfamiliar with my advanced vernacular, are simply the pair of jeans I wear around the house. They are faded yet magically stain resistant. They are soft yet nearly indestructible. They are essentially the cowboy version of sweatpants. They are what I picture my heroes wearing around their homes when I imagine my heroes being leisurely.
Of course, the exception to the “heroes-wearing-house-jeans” daydream would be my father and step-father, both heroes of mine, both of whom I can picture in sweatpants during my imaginations of their leisurely times around the house, mostly because those imaginations are actual memories.
I'm wearing my house jeans right now. Usually, I like to say “I'm in my house jeans” because it sounds like I'm saying “I'm in my house” - as if someone is calling me and asking me where I am and I say “I am in my house” but then I say “jeans” after a short pause and all of a sudden it's like I could be anywhere. But really, if you understand house jeans then you realize that I must be in my house because it is a rare occasion that I wear my house jeans out into the real world.
I'm not sure why I'm telling you this. Perhaps because I haven't written about my pants in awhile. I planned on writing about the troubles I've been having untying my shoes when I get home from work. It turns out that three pages of words about knots and the things that can go wrong, followed by statistical analysis of the daily outcomes during a month long experiment in which my right foot served as the control group, just didn't convey the zany adventure that it really was no matter how hard I tried – and believe me, I tried very hard.
So instead you, the reader, are left with a few lines about the crap jeans that I wear around the house and the tease of a meandering self reflection about my inability to untie shoes, which speaks perhaps to my ability to tie shoes. From here, if you wish, you could begin to question my merits as a parent, as I am about embark upon the whole shoe tying journey with my daughter - “How can a man not be able to tie shoes in such a way that they easily untie at the end of the day? And how could such a man father a child, much less teach said child to tie shoes when he himself is unable to complete the task properly from beginning to end?
Your questions would be valid, all of them. But to them I would retort that my shoes stay tied just fine, in fact my problem is that they stay too tied – and we are not talking double knots here people. When I wish them to untie, tied they remain. So it is entirely possible that when I successfully teach my child to tie her shoes that she will only need to tie them once – for they will never untie easily – perhaps the lesson here is that sometimes life is a struggle and nothing more – perhaps I have invented a new knot – and perhaps my family will evolve into one that never takes their shoes off. Sure we will wear down carpets quicker than most and be stuck wearing the same pair of pants our entire lives but maybe that's what we are supposed to be. I saw a thing on television the other day that told me that orcas/killer whales evolved from giant wolves. Nobody, and I mean nobody, saw that coming.
If I wake up one morning and my dog has evolved into a manatee, I am going to be pissed. I have no idea what a manatee eats.
The truth of the matter here is that I am struggling for an introductory topic to lead into the next installment of my head to head beer comparison series. In fact, I don't think I even have picture to put as a header image – the picture above is definitely a picture of two stouts – but whether or not it is the Alesmith's Speedway Stout and Stone's Espresso Imperial Russian Stout that I am about to present to you in a side by side fight to the death, I am not sure.
The name of the game is Beersport – two beers enter, one beer leaves. Beersport.
(What would be cool would be to have a Beersport logo, with the title Beersport written out, much like the title of the movie Bloodsport, but instead of being written in blood, it would be written in beer, preferably a thick dark stout with some gratuitous foam splatter. It would also be cool if my hamstrings were flexible enough to allow me to do a roundhouse kick.)
What follows is a brief synopsis of my preconceived notions of the two beers, why I chose to have them face off in a Beersport battle, and the tasting notes I jotted down as I drank them side by side.
I have had both of these beers before and enjoyed them both immensely. Also, I had a bottle of each that had been sitting in my basement for approximately the same amount of time. They are both highly regarded, rightfully so, and both contain an adjunct I could get at my local coffee shop – the Speedway Stout (just the regular one, not the Vietnamese or Barrel Aged) being brewed with coffee and the Stone Espresso Imperial Russian Stout being brewed with espresso, obviously. Style-wise, the Speedway Stout currently has a 104 Style+, while Espresso I.R.S. currently has a 103 Style+ (See our glossary for info about the Style+ rating). It should be noted that the the Speedway Stout is listed in the American Imperial/Double Stout style category and the Espresso I.R.S. is in the Russian Imperial Stout style category.
Alesmith's Speedway Stout (6.57 BAR) vs. Stone's Espresso Imperial Russian Stout (5.73 BAR)
They were both black as night with a thin tan head, mostly around the edges. The Speedway had just a bit more frothiness to it. Frothiness wins categories. Speedway wins this category.
The Speedway was chocolate, roasted coffee and malt, and more booze in the nose as it warms. The Espresso I.R.S. was similar but with a molasses sweetness and less of a coffee smell – still a nice aroma from the roasted malts. The sharp smell of espresso was there but faint at first. Espresso became more noticeable as it warmed and the molasses smell turned into a boozier aroma. Overall, while the Espresso I.R.S. aroma improved as it warmed, I enjoyed the Speedway's aroma more. Speedway wins again.
The Speedway was more chocolatey then coffee initially, but the coffee grows in the finish. Also, I pick up a hint of a lactose sweetness that adds a complimentary dryness to the dark flavors and smooth bitterness. The chocolate and coffee both build as the beer warms and some hints of a dark fruit or berry sweetness start come out, much like you might notice in a nice cup of coffee.
The Espresso I.R.S. has a subtle espresso flavor at first, but what is most noticeable is that the flavors are not quite as bitter as the Speedway. The sweetness is there, this is the sweeter of the two, but not as sweet as the nose suggested. The finish has a darker, more roasted feel than the Speedway, and that is where the espresso starts to leave it's mark as it's sharp bitterness starts to build. Very smooth but without the dryness of the Speedway.
This is a draw. I enjoyed how the dry quality mixed with the chocolate and coffee that the Speedway had compared to the Espresso I.R.S. but I also enjoyed the how the roasted flavors in the Espresso I.R.S. seemed darker and richer, but smoother in the finish.
The Speedway was smooth and the dryness mentioned above lent a creamy quality to the feel. This one had the stronger coffee bite, the more bitter finish, and overall was the more bitter stout.
The Espresso I.R.S. was smooth but in a thick, slick and rich way. The slick sweetness makes the feel for this one much like the dry creaminess makes the feel of the Speedway. The Espresso I.R.S. had more heat from the booze as you get the end of the glass.
I want to call it a draw, but I keep leaning one way then another. The mouthfeel is where these two beers are the farthest apart, but I would give both a 5 out of 5 in the category. This was the hardest category to declare a winner. So I will declare it a draw. Nope, Stone wins. Changed my mind, Speedway wins. Whatever. Everybody wins.
Both are amazing, easily accessible in my area, and at a price point that makes both even better. I would definitely choose the Espresso I.R.S. over Stone's regular I.R.S., but that is pretty amazing as well (it is what is in my glass as I write this). If I had to pick a winner it would be the Speedway, but only by a hair – there is something about the dry, less sweet, aspect of it that sets it apart for me, even if only by a little bit.
I love what stouts do to my brain and my face. Perhaps I awarded “draws” in the final two categories because I had been drinking and just felt so damn happy. Stouts change my brain more than any other beer style. And that statement is based on 100% pure science.
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