I remember what I like to consider my first “real” craft beer as if it were yesterday. It was a sunny day in
Admittedly I have said that a large portion of Big Rock’s beers taste incredibly similar; perhaps it’s the proprietary yeast they use, maybe it’s a recipe that’s slightly altered from beer to beer or a combination of the two but regardless it’s been something I’ve noticed for a while. Now, before I delve into the meat of this post, let me be frank, this is not slight against Big Rock. Regardless of your opinion of this brewery anyone with a head on their shoulders can attest that Big Rock forged a path for every subsequent craft brewery to follow, providing a diversity in beer styles in an era when light lagers were simply all that was available, and for that, Big Rock, we salute you.
The two most suspect beers in similarity, in my opinion are Grasshopper, their Kristalweizen, and Rhinestone Cowboy, their Kolsch.
Regarding appearance, the untrained eye might not see a difference in colour. Both beers feature a bright, clear golden colour but on closer examination Grasshopper is a slightly darker hue. Upon examining the aromas of these beers again, at first no difference can be found immediately but after continuous comparison Grasshopper has a slightly sweeter, more estery nose, while the Rhinestone Cowboy is lighter, crisper and has a faint floral hop aroma.
When it comes down to the taste it took numerous people a few sips before being able to distinguish between the two beers. Ultimately, Rhinestone Cowboy is lighter in mouthfeel, more effervescent and finishes crisper compared to the sweeter, yeastier Grasshopper.
Overall, the differences are marginal, albeit still there and maybe that’s fine. Maybe these beers aren’t meant for the hardened Imperial stout veteran, the guy whose palate has been demolished from to many double and triple IPA’s or the person sipping a 15 year old sour from a teku glass. Grasshopper and Rhinestone Cowboy – among many other light crafty options, not specifically from brig Rock – are for the hardworking masses of people looking for an uncomplicated but flavourful pint from a local brewery to toss back after a hard day. These beers aren’t intended to be deeply analyzed and picked apart from every angle and I’m sure everyone in the craft beer community can appreciate that sentiment.