Chicago's Two Most Famous Pale Ales
Zombie Dust vs. Daisy Cutter
You may get a few tastings today because I’ve been working on cleaning out my old refrigerator because I have a new one coming next week.
To start the night, I figured I’d try out two of the Chicagoland area’s most famous beers:
Zombie Dust from 3Floyds
Daisy Cutter from Half Acre
These are both pretty fresh since Zombie Dust is now available in DC and Daisy Cutter is available in Philadelphia and the store next to my parking lot carried it.
They both look pretty similar in color.
The Zombie Dust has a bit more fizz to the head and is a bit more golden.
On the nose, you get a lot of pine.
A piney beer is my go-to if I have a choice in beer since it is a dominant flavor in West Coast IPAs and Pacific NW IPAs, specifically. The most common hop you’ll find that presents that way is the Cascade hop.
I can’t find the hop bill from 3Floyds, but the clone is all Citra.
A second snift gives you some more citrus fruit like pineapple. A few websites mention passion fruit, but I don’t get that.
The three things that really stand out to me in the nose are the pine, the citrus, and the fizziness.
When you taste it, this is a very smooth beer. Unlike a lot of pale ales, I don’t get a lot of the biscuity malt taste. The malt is a bit sweeter and better balanced.
Turning to Daisy Cutter.
The nose is different. Unlike Zombie Dust where the malt character was sweeter and didn’t show up as much in the nose, the malt of the Daisy Cutter is right out front. When you put your nose in the glass it smells like a biscuit.
You do get a hit of the hop in there as well, but it is definitely secondary.
The first sip of the Daisy Cutter you get the malt, but also some pine and some citrus.
The mouthfeel is a lot heavier than the Zombie Dust.
If I had to put a number to compare them with 10 being something like a super heavy stout like World Wide Stout or Bourbon County, the Zombie Dust would be around a 4 and the Daisy Cutter would hit about a 7.
For a pale ale, the Daisy Cutter feels pretty heavy to me.
In sitting down with both of them, the Daisy Cutter definitely is at a disadvantage. Compared to the Zombie Dust, the Daisy Cutter seems like an entirely different style of beer. It has less zip and zest, just heavier.
On the other hand, the Zombie Dust is vibrant.
The first time I had it a few weeks back, I felt like it was one of the 10-15 best beers I’d ever had. Up there with things like Pliny the Elder, the Stone Enjoy by for Thanksgiving 2014, and really fresh 120 Minute IPA.
Daisy Cutter is in the class with Sierra Nevada or the original Stone Pale Ale, classics of the style.
Stone retired some of their original recipes because people’s tastes had changed. The original recipe for Daisy Cutter comes from 2009.
Which is a long way of saying I think Daisy Cutter still holds up as a very good pale ale, but my tastes have changed.
I’ll give it a 88 right now.
On the other hand, Zombie Dust fits whatever my current taste for beer is quite nicely and I’d be happy to serve this at a party or BBQ in the after times.
I’m going very high here with a 98.
In the battle of Chicagoland pale ales, I’m giving this one to the Zombie Dust.