The name of the game is Beersport – two beers enter, one beer leaves. Beersport.
For this edition of Beersport, two beers by Evil Twin Brewing face off in an epic battle of loose comparison. Interestingly enough, the origins of Beersport began some time ago on these very Beergraphs pages with an epic face off between two other Evil Twin beers – Naked Lunch In A Copenhagen Heavenly Resto and Christmas Eve At A New York City Hotel Room. It turned out that the two beers were actually identical recipes with the only difference being the locations, and hence the water, where they were brewed.
And so here we are again, with two beers from Evil Twin – the Imperial Biscotti Break and the Imperial Doughnut Break – where the recipes are the same with the exception of one ingredient. To be clear, one beer is brewed using biscotti, the other using doughnuts. And we are on planet Earth.
I bought these beers at the same time and drank them with a friend – a tall man with a nicely groomed beard. He helped me with the seeing, smelling, tasting, and feeling of these bombers of beer while we watched the final game in the epic five game series between the Philadelphia Phillies and New York Mets. He was also re-stringing a lovely acoustic guitar and spent a majority of the night attempting to tune it, a task that I am sure was not made any easier by the dreadful baseball on the television, my glass-eyed rambles, and the consumption of these 11.5% ABV beers.
What follows is a brief synopsis of my preconceived notions of the two beers and the tasting notes that I jotted down as myself and my tall companion drank them side by side.
As man in his thirties, I have limited experience with biscotti. In fact, I could not tell you the last time I had a biscotti. I'm not even sure if I should refer to it as 'a biscotti' or just as 'biscotti'. At this point, biscotti is so far removed from my life that I am unsure of the proper nomenclature. I mean, I can picture a biscotti. I can picture Stonehenge re-created using only biscotti. I can picture myself sailing the bay on a catamaran with giant biscotti hulls. At the very least, I can picture myself leisurely drinking on a biscotti pontoon boat, still moored to the dock, blissfully unaware that my craft is slowly sinking as my biscotti pontoons soak up every drop of liquid they can handle. Perhaps I'm on a lake of hot coffee and my last thought before I drown is that cookie boats are not a good idea. Perhaps I emerge from this coffee lake as a highly caffeinated zombie. Or perhaps this strange nautical dessert daydream will take a different turn and some onlooking do gooder will toss me a glazed doughnut life ring as I'm about to take my last breath and save me from a life as a coffee-crazed zombie – a life of not only struggling to mutter my name and coffee order to the lovely barista with my sagging zombie jaw, but also trying not to eat her tasty brains before she makes the beverage I so desire.
When my order is ready, they yell out “Mmrrrrrgh”, and I swear to myself that if next time they get my name wrong I am not leaving a tip.
But regarding the beer, I had not had either of these before and was quite excited for both. In terms of actual preconceived notions, they were both the same price and had the second and third highest BAR ratings for Evil Twin on our Leaderboards (see below for the BAR ratings for each at the time of writing this). Really my only expectation going in was that the Imperial Doughnut Break would probably be a bit sweeter and lighter in feel since it was labeled as an Imperial Porter while the Imperial Biscotti Break was labeled as an Imperial Stout.
Evil Twin's Imperial Biscotti Break (6.66 BAR (yikes!)) vs. Evil Twin's Imperial Doughnut Break (6.15 BAR)
They both poured thick and black. Both had tan head but the Doughnut had a bit more head, as you can see in the image, and had a slight reddish tint compared to the Biscotti. Also, the Doughnut retained the head a bit longer than the Biscotti.
The Biscotti had sweet, dark fruit characteristics to go along with the roasted, bitter smell of coffee and chocolate. The nose also had hints of bread and burning wood.
The Doughnut's aroma was lighter but similar. The sweeter, dark fruit notes dominated a bit more and the biting smell of coffee was much less in comparison to the Biscotti.
I tasted the Biscottie first and initially it seemed pretty sweet with hints of dark fruit, cake, bitter chocolate, and coffee. The second sip, even though I had still not tasted the Doughnut, did not seem nearly as sweet for some reason, but it was a good thing. The beer started to push through flavors of bland but roasted breadiness, or cookie, that finished with bitter chocolate, roasted coffee, and a doughy alcohol. By bland, I mean more that it was there as a back drop, not competing for attention, but just there, doing it's thing, soaking up the other stuff and adding to it just enough that you noticed. It fit in quite nicely with the other flavors. And while it has been some time since I've had a biscotti with my coffee, this beer started to take me back and remind of those times and those flavors.
The Doughnut, at first, actually seemed less sweet and to have more coffee bitterness flavors, less chocolate, but more roast and with slight nuttiness. Not much actual doughnut, though. As it warmed a bit, the beer became the sweeter of the two, taking on a nice sweetness with hint of dough and chocolate that lasted from front to back and finished with a nice tart and boozy pop not unlike what I imagine a wine soaked fig newton might taste like.
Tough call at first, but the roasted, bready, bitterness of the Biscotti was really blowing me away by the end of the glass. Advantage Biscotti.
The Doughnut was the less thick of the two (still thick though), which makes sense – as mentioned above it was labeled a porter. My drinking companion said this one drank more like a beer and he was right. It had more space in the feel and a medium to fine carbonation that felt right and probably allowed the sweetness from the glazed doughnut to push through.
The Biscotti was thick and slick and sticky but with a bitter dryness that helped balance it all out. The carbonation was was tiny, fine, and worked in tandem with the dry, roasted bitterness to tingle on the tongue. My companion found the feel to be a bit too thick and too sticky. He also picked up more on the sweetness, and not as much on the roasted bitterness.
Advantage Biscotti (my vote)
Advantage Doughnut (tall, bearded man's vote)
The Doughnut got a bit sweet and boozy as it warmed where the more prominent roasted flavors of the Biscotti helped keep its sweetness in check. Both were great and really enjoyable to drink side by side, sort of complimenting each other as you went back and forth, but the Imperial Biscotti Break wins.
However, it should be noted that Dan, my tall, bearded drinking companion, declared Doughnut the winner based on his preference for something not quite as viscous and sticky. In order to break what some might consider a tie, we will defer to each beer's current BAR rating, as listed above, and henceforth declare Imperial Biscotti Break the official winner.
Which is good, because it is the one available year round, while the Doughnut appears to be a limited release.
J. R. Shirt listened to the Dead Boys' album Young, Loud, And Biscotti while writing this post. Follow J. R. on Twitter and Untappd @beeronmyshirt.