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Photo illustration by Sean Parsons.

CU vs. CSU Taste Test: Which School Has the Better Beer?

On Friday, CSU and CU will meet for another Rocky Mountain Showdown. Our staff decided to start the competition early by judging which of their specialty lagers, the Old Aggie or the Stampede, is best for the pregame tailgate.

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It’s that time of year: Kids are back in school. Temperatures are starting to dip. You’ve had to pull out your Patagonia fleece for an evening stroll. Plants are starting to look like they’re ready to give up on this whole growing season thing and just turn gold already. And, of course, football season is back.

And while Broncos Country still bleeds blue and orange, on Friday, the state turns out in gold and green colors when the University of Colorado plays Colorado State University in the Rocky Mountain Showdown at Broncos Stadium at Mile High at 8:10 p.m. (you can buy tickets here or here).

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The rivalry game dates back to the 1890s (yes, you read that right), and while CU has dominated the victory column, CSU fans are undaunted. Most of the games in the past two decades have been played on neutral turf in Denver, but that changes next year when the game moves to Fort Collins, after which it will be on hiatus until at least 2023, due to CU’s already-full non-conference schedule.

This year, the stakes are a little higher. CSU has boasted its own beer, New Belgium Brewing Company’s Old Aggie Superior Lager, for two years, but CU didn’t have an equivalent option—until now: Avery Brewing Co.’s just-launched Stampede. It’s an epic matchup of lagers in a state that knows quite a lot about lagers (ahem, Coors). That begs the question: Which beer is better?

So, we held an informal taste test—the identity of both beers were concealed for the participants—and asked drinkers to comment on appearance, aroma, taste, and finish. The results were…well, read on:

First Quarter: Appearance
In early play, this category was a complete toss-up. Old Aggie had no foam. One reviewer noted that Stampede looked like white wine.

Second Quarter: Aroma
Some reviewers commented on how Old Aggie smelled a bit sweeter, but a surprising number said that both beers smelled like bar floors. Stampede solicited two reviewers to ask if it was actually Natural Light or Keystone Light.

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Third Quarter: Taste
On taste, Stampede gained fans for being mild and light. Or, as one mass-market-beer-fan put it: “Drinks like a Bud Light. High marks!”

Fourth Quarter: Finish
Old Aggie earned marks from the reviewers for a slightly hoppy, bubbly finish. Stampede elicited a water-like reference.

The final score was 8–7, in favor of Old Aggie. (Go ahead and rejoice loyal Rams fans.) But, in a collegial spirit, we’re going to call both brews victors. It’s not a cop out. These are drinkable lagers, not the special-series, cask-brewed beer that you are going to Instagram about. These are beers that you drink—and then Instagram about all the fun you’re having. Which is why many of the reviewers spent time reliving old college stories and discussing which one might be best for flip cup or beer pong. In short, these are exactly the type of easy-drinking lagers to stash in a cooler for a little tailgating or store in the fridge for your next get together with old friends.

Winter in Colorado

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