Eric's Beer Blog

My online journal for beer (and other drinks) tasting, brewing, tourism, and general musings.

My Photo
Location: St. Paul, Minnesota, United States

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Alpha King vs. Two-Hearted Ale

After another long hiatus here at the Beer Blog, I've decided to do a side-by-side tasting I've been planning for a while.

It features two of my favorite pale ales, both of which happen to be made here in the midwest. In one corner, we have Three Floyds' Alpha King. In the other corner (pint glass, that is) we have Bell's Two Hearted Ale.

I'm doing this tasting "live," which mainly means that there's not any time lag during which I can not get around to writing up my observations.

I'll start off with the brewers' own observations. Two Hearted Ale's label says: "An India Pale Ale style well suited for Hemingway-esque trips to the Upper Peninsula. American malts and enormous hop additions give this beer a crisp finish and an incredibly floral hop aroma."

Three Floyds has this to say about the Alpha King: "A classic American pale ale with a bold citrus hop character-- Three Floyds flagship beer. The slight haze in this bottle is from bottle conditioning, where yeast is added to the bottle for a secondary fermentation."

Since I poured the two beers, the head on the Alpha King has nearly disappeared-- I didn't rinse the glass, so I can't say for sure that it's the beer's fault and not mine, but it's disappointing nonetheless. (I then had to take a break for a few minutes-- it's now probably been at least 30-45 minutes since I poured them, and the Two Hearted still has a lovely head!)

Color: Alpha King is quite a bit darker (I need a color wheel!), an amber color with a good bit of red. The Two Hearted is a light orange color, with pleasant bubbles rising up at a steady pace.

Aroma: Indeed, both have pleasantly floral hoppy aromas. Both also have a good malt aroma to back them up-- a real plus for me. Both aromas are definitely more floral than citrusy.

Taste: Of course, they're both very yummy. The Alpha King definitely has more malt behind all the hops, which to my mind is a very good thing. Both have lots of hop flavors and are none too bitter, another real plus-- too many American IPAs are overwhelmingly bitter, with less of the hop flavor and malt backbone.

Just checked Beer Advocate's rankings... Both of these beers appear on their list of the top 100 American beers, with Two Hearted at 44 and Alpha King at 50; on the style-specific rankings, Two Hearted is 5th for IPAs, and Alpha King is 1st for American Pale Ales. Interesting that they're in different categories... These are both truly outstanding beers made by masters of the brewer's art. The Alpha King may well be the finest pale ale/IPA there is (in a bottle, at least). The Two Hearted is awfully darned good as well. They both clock in at 6% abv, so one could easily drink a few at a sitting.

In short, since my beer-describing abilities seem to be at a low ebb right now, both of these are superb, but I'd choose Alpha King if forced.