Draft Beer Tasting: Intro

Given the meticulous nature of last year's Chronicle beer tasting, wherein a panel of experts gave the thumbs-up or -down to the finest porters, stouts and ales available from our city's premier local breweries, you may be questioning the pedigrees of the tasters you see below. If you know me, for instance, you know that I'm the type of guy whose major criterion in choosing a beer is what kind of puzzle is under the bottlecap. Well, this year the Chronicle tasting focuses on draft beers; the favorite of bar-hounds, big-screen sports fans, and anyone who likes to watch the bubbles rise in their brew. Hence, this year's judges fall more into the category of the "regular guy" - or at least as close to "regular" as we tend to come in contact with around here. So the nine of us came to sip and savor at the Draught Horse, that home of oaken tables and frosty mugs where many a thirst has been filled, both in recent months and in its previous incarnation as the Draught House.

Keep in mind as you read the responses below, however, that draft beer tasting is by its very nature an inexact science; the same beer may not taste the same from keg to keg, as any number of factors besides the name on the truck can contribute to the taste of a draft beer. Many Hill Country products are not pasteurized, for instance, and God only knows what oxidation-inducing temperature fluctuations a British keg may go through before it sees the Texas sun. In general, though, while you won't see a lot of references below to "caramel tones" or "soft toffee sweetness," you will find a full slate of honest opinions from a batch of guys and gals who aren't afraid to hoist a frosty one now and then. - Ken Lieck

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