Dry Dock Brewing’s Ho Ho Ho Slapdown

Dry Dock Brewing Co in Aurora, CO held their 3rd annual Ho Ho Ho Slapdown on November 26th, 2011.  In this event, the Dry Dock brewers enter their beers into a competition and let the patrons choose the winner.  The beers and brewers were:

  • Ashleigh Carter – Lady Penrhyn (Imperial Brown aged in Stranahans Whiskey Barrels), 8.2%, 32 IBUs
  • Bill Eye – Doppelsticke Altbier (Imperial Alt), 8.3 %, 55 IBUs
  • Brett Williams – Ambiguation Black Ale (Belgian Black IPA), 6.4%, 65 IBUs
  • Doug Hyndman – Nitro Shotgun Stout (Russian Imperial Stout aged in Stranahans Whiskey Barrels), 10%, 50 IBUs

Patrons were given the four beers in sample glasses to taste and a bottle cap to cast a vote.  The bottle cap was placed into a mug indicating the beer of the patron’s choice for best beer.

Dry Dock's Ho Ho Ho Slapdown beers

I chose to first sip about half the sample of each beer, then to sip the remaining contents of the sample one after another to help me narrow it down.  We also brought various cheeses from The Truffle (blue, romano and a soft stinky cheese) and paired them with the beers to see how well the beers paired with food.

The Ambiguation Black Ale was a great black IPA, hoppy and earthy.  The Lady Penryhn was delicious and definitely a great double brown ale.  It was cloudy and lacked carbonation.  The whiskey was faint but present.  The Shotgun Stout was awesome, this beer definitely represented this time of year well.  Dark and sweet with a heavy whiskey backbone, it was hot on the alcohol but still went down smooth.  The Doppelsticke Altbier was absolutely wonderful.  It was slightly sweet and caramely, smooth and silky.

I was with 10 friends and we were all over the place with our votes.  Each beer received at least two votes from our table, but the altbier and the stout were the standouts.  I voted for the altbier, my wife voted for the stout (I did have a hard time choosing between the altbier and the stout though).  Some of the women at our table voted for the brown and a couple of guys voted for the black IPA.

Looking at the mugs that contained the bottle caps, there was no clear winner.  The level of the bottle caps was almost the same across all the mugs.  This goes to show that these were all outstanding beers and covered a good range of flavor profiles that appeased varying palates.  When the winner was announced, they indicated that the competition was indeed very close.

The results:

  1. Bill Eye’s Doppelsticke Altbier – Winner
  2. Doug Hyndman’s Shotgun Stout – 2nd Place
  3. Ashleigh Carter’s Lady Penrhyn – 3rd Place
  4. Brett Williams’ Ambiguation Black Ale – 4th Place and winner of the Cherry Vixen Award

The Cherry Vixen award is given to the last place winner.  The story behind this comes from 2 years ago (2009) at the first Ho Ho Ho Slapdown when Kevin DeLange, the owner of Dry Dock, brewed a Belgian Strong Ale with sour cherries for the competition.  It came in last place that year and has become a running joke since then.

The Ho Ho Ho Slapdown is a great annual event put on by Dry Dock.  Make plans to attend next year, and stop by the brewery over the next few weeks to sample the winning beer.


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