Rocky Mountain Showdown, beer edition: Which beer is better, CU’s Stampede or CSU’s Old Aggie?

The 2019 Rocky Mountain Showdown is Friday, Aug. 30

The University of Colorado Boulder’s Stampede beer by Avery Brewing and Colorado State University’s Old Aggie, made by New Belgium Brewing. (Patrick Traylor, The Denver Post)
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College football is back, and with it comes the renewed rivalry between the Colorado Buffaloes and the Colorado State Rams.

The Rocky Mountain Showdown — the annual showdown between the in-state rivals — takes place Friday, Aug. 30 at Broncos Stadium at Mile High. For the winner, it’s a roaring kick-off to the new season, and fans get bragging rights over cross-state counterparts.

Now there’s added kindling to the fire. With Colorado’s big beer culture, it’s fitting that both schools have partnered with local breweries to create their own official craft beers.

CSU teamed with Fort Collins’ New Belgium Brewing in 2017 to produce the Old Aggie superior lager. And last Friday, Boulder’s Avery Brewery launched its partnership brew with CU, the Stampede Colorado gold lager.

So, which university has the better beer? At first glance of their equally light golden tones, both beers look nearly identical. But there has to be a winner.

We conducted a blind taste-test survey with 12 Denver Post journalists — ranging from craft aficionados to those who don’t typically drink beer — to see if the Stampede is shoulder-to-shoulder above the competition or if the Old Aggie tears the Buffaloes’ line asunder. Here are the results:

The matchup

MATCHUP Stampede Old Aggie
Brewery Avery Brewing New Belgium
Team CU Buffaloes CSU Rams
Style Colorado gold lager Superior lager
ABV 4.5% 4.7%
Malts 2-row Pale and Munich
Yeast House lager strain Lager
Hops Sterling and bravo Cascade, Chinook, liberty and nugget
Description “Clean, crisp and crushable” “Incredibly easy-drinking”

What the panel thought of Avery Brewing’s Stampede

The pros: Like its description, the Stampede is certainly “crushable.” A smooth American lager with a clean finish, ”it’s made for college students to drink in mass quantities,” according to one sampler.

Many of the panelists were quick to favor this beer after an initial comparison due to its “easy-to-drink”  and “smoother” nature. From one non-beer drinker: “I hate this one less.”

The cons: The biggest complaint about Stampede was that while its strength is in its quaffable nature, it felt “watery” and “a little flat” to some of the panelists.

What the panel thought of New Belgium’s Old Aggie

The pros: New Belgium used more varieties of hops and malts for its beer than Avery and it showed, as Old Aggie has a more complex flavor than its counterpart.

Old Aggie was described as having a sweeter flavor, even its aroma has a more floral scent than Stampede’s.

The cons: The main complaint was this finish of the beer. “It has a flavor I wish wasn’t there,” one sampler said.

“It wants to be hoppy, but it can’t quite make it,” one drinker said, adding that “it’s a fake IPA.”

The verdict

Coming in with a slight edge in the final vote, the final score was the Stampede 7, Old Aggie 5, with the win going to CU.

Neither beer garnered new fans at the tasting, but as one panelist noted, ”They’re very appropriate for their audience” — Colorado college kids looking to drink beer and rep their school.

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