Category Archives: New Brew

Evil Twin Citra Sunshine Slacker

Evil Twin Brewing Stratford, CT 

Citra Sunshine Slacker

Session IPA
The name was too apt not to try; having slacked off for 692 days, I’m in need of inspiration. The stylized geometric Lebowski on the can helps too. 

Crystal clear golden straw color with a crackling snow white head. Fine pearl strands wind up the glass keeping the froth rocky. The nose is fresh cut sativa and grass, with a touch of over-ripe orange. The mouthfeel starts with that effervescence skittering across the palate, opens up wide, then thins out in a wave of bitters. The flavor starts tart and citrus, blending and evening out a bit before dissipating into a slightly vegetal tang. A few more sips help even things out and the bubbles take on a hand-pulled quality. It’s a good session beer albeit one that tries to clone the effect of an IPA rather than settle for its own profile. Sessions have become their own thing, mimicking English cask pales more than their overblown American counterparts. This one abides.   

 

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Berkshire Brewing Drayman’s Porter

Berkshire Brewing Co.
South Deerfield, MA
Drayman’s Porter
6.2% ABV / 36 IBU

Holy hell, it has been too long. I am back, I swear it. It’s not that I haven’t been drinking – I have! A lot! As much as I can. Inspiration struck the other night, and a bomber of this stuff in the fridge was just calling to me. “Open me,” it said. “Drink me, and enjoy. But share it with the world. With all your countless fans.”

“I will, talking beer,” I said. “I will.”

This beer lets in no light, save for what trickles in from the top as the honey-colored head subsides. All but black, the muddy brown curtain obscures any view of the gentle carbonation.

A few of these and you'll need to carried

A few of these and you’ll need to be carried.

The nose has caramel, milk chocolate, and the cold smell of a concrete floor – like a garage or basement that has been cleaned but is perpetually damp. Some minor vegetal aromas appear, but are overpowered by the cool sweetness.

The first sip starts smoothly, with very little carbonation. There is a softness, but no coating of the mouth or acrid bitterness from the toasted grains. The sides of the tongue get touched with some sparkling but evanescent green hop bitterness, but everything gets ironed out to the back of the palate with chocolate milk, sourdough, and a touch of mocha.

I may have served the first pour a bit too cold, but it’s an easy drinker and a smooth 6.2 percent, which lacks any of the roasted char and sticky alcohol apparent in so many bulkier US porters.

Saranac White IPA

A guest review from Max – plus a new “Limited Release” tag and category!

Matt Brewing Co.
Utica, NY
Saranac White IPA

There seem to be so many IPAs at one’s finger tips today that one might
think the beer industry has come to target only hop heads. This isn’t a bad
thing, mind you, but it is rare to find a really good hoppy IPA that tastes
different from, well, a really good hoppy IPA. Batter up, Saranac White
IPA. What drew me to this beer was essentially the fusion of two of my
faves: a citra hops IPA and a Belgian-style white. The results had the
potential to delight, but you never know with seasonals, because if they
bomb they are only around for a few months.

The pour unleashes a powerful head similar to that of a Boddingtons, the cascading abruptly ceases (note the glass here) and you are left with a beautiful orange-ocher haze. Don’t try and stare down this lady, she, like most women are tough to see through and patience will serve you best as you make your way through the aroma which, like most analysis of this beer, is refined citrus. The most prevalent smell is grapefruit, then grass.

The mouthfeel takes you on a wild ride starting with a blast of citrus, however the infusion of 2 Row, Wheat, and Oat malts, tone down the hop as the backside of the taste releases an array of spicy vanilla and coriander (Saranac also uses 2 Row malt in it’s Vanilla Stout).

There is a wonderful duality between these different styles, they harmonize
when they need to and clash at just the right moments. This is certainly
one of the most refreshing IPAs I’ve ever tried and I would be very happy to
see a re-release in time for grilling season. While hardly a session beer at
6%, I drank three in 20 minutes after the Giants won the NFC championship
with no problem!

Flying Dog Tire Bite

Flying Dog Brewery
Denver, CO
Tire Bite Golden Ale

The pour spews forth a spume of crystal white heat that settles down in a hurry inside the slightly damp glass. The bubbles are large and erratic, the carbonation lacks pearl strands but is steady. The clarity is excellent. The color is straw, very light and lager-like, more like a pilsner than any ale.

The nose is slightly grassy, but sweeter and less metallic, telling you that it really isn’t a pilsner. The banana and bubble gum aromas of yeast come through slightly (very slightly) though are not as strong as some wheats, and a layer of hay lies in the back behind the sweetness.

The sip gives an immediately clean and even flavor but it starts to hint towards grass and straw in the back of the swallow. The sweetness mingles with the hoppiness across the tongue with just a hint of honey and sugar. A briny finish of hops cleans up nicely at the very end and prepares you for your next sip.

Flying Dog has a tendency to put a lot of elbow grease into making their beers complex, for better or for worse. This particular example is a good effort – not too much going on, but enough to keep you interested. This is a fine session beer and one that you can wrap your tastebuds around for a while; it will proffer more than a few facets that you can mull over for a while.

Shipyard Prelude

Shipyard Brewing Co.
Portland, ME
Prelude Special Ale

A winter scene on the label and dark hue visible through the brown bottle intimates a hearty brew.

A slow pour yields a pillowy layer of beige head that lasts and a deep, deep amber color. held to the light, there is some transparency though the garnet.

The nose is malt with traces of almond, brown sugar, and a bitter zest comes through showing that this probably will not be a sweet molasses ale. There are touches of oatmeal raisin cookie, but I think these are more on the nose as the beer’s clarity and orange tinge hint at a less chewy sampling.

The mouthfeel is exceptional and creamy, aided by that persistent fluff on top. The effervescence is subtle but consistent. The flavor starts with a slightly roasty almond hint but kicks into a soft and velvety cinnamon note with a touch of oak and just a few berries.

The finish is dry but smooth with the hops showing up late and easing what could be a heavy hand on that rich malt. The lacing is some of the best I’ve seen, sticking in circumferential swaths of off-white ribbon.

I’d say this beer is good any time, not just the cold months but I’d recommend trying it then sometime when your belly is full and you don’t think you can manage one of the more chewy winter brews around.

New Belgium Hoptober

New Belgium Brewing
Ft. Collins, CO
Hoptober Golden Ale

New Belgium could stand up tall with Fat Tire alone, however it goes out of its way to try some really interesting styles, ranging from Trippels to Dunkelweiss to this beautiful seasonal concoction.

The pour is truly golden straw with perhaps a touch of orange, but barely. A very white, cloudy head puffs up the straight-sided glass (perhaps the wrong choice for this beer) and starts to stick as it descends.

The nose is a really pleasant mix of sticky hops – pine resin, citrus, and damp flowers – and a slight bitter grassiness which melds nicely to create an earthy yet somewhat sweet aroma.

The mouthfeel is excellent, light but full, with steady and lively effervescence. Those West Coast hops are more present as aroma hops than flavoring hops. They appear slightly at the beginning of the sip, giving way to a tarter, Noble hop bitterness, and eventually reappearing at the end.

There is a slight sweetness – citric, perhaps orange – along the palate. That resin-y, marijuana-like taste persists as an aftertaste and is not unpleasant. This brew seems to be undecided, but is remarkably balanced and interesting.

At 6%, it’s not quite a session, and at 40IBU, it’s not quite a hophead’s dream. However, it is rich and complex and drinkable, and is a great offer from a great house.

Lagunitas Hop Stoopid

Lagunitas Brewing Co.
Petaluma, CA
Hop Stoopid Ale

Lagunitas makes some of the finer US brews, I think. Their IPA, Pils, and Censored are all some stellar go-tos whenever I see them and I have been hanging onto this bottle of Hop Stoopid for a couple of months, eager to crack it open and enjoy the 22oz hopportunity.

Pours up with a very rocky, lively, and slightly orange head, over an inch thick and very sticky. The beer steadies and the head caves in on itself, but continues to leave a tight webbing of fine lace.

The color is a deep honey-amber – truly orange and burnished gold. It’s not quite coppery as there is no brown in the mix.

The nose has a strong wafting grapefruit aroma with a touch of bitter lemon solvent – no doubt a result of the nearly 8% ABV. There are some pine notes and faint phenolic odor as well as a deep, almost prune-like richness that lasts through the nose. This beer will undoubtedly have bite.

There is a great deal of very bitter grapefruit in the sip, along with some peppery pine and mint; it’s not cleansing but nor is it too heavy. The mouthfeel is very good, and the over-ripe stone fruit textures cling at the end of the swallow.

By no means is this a session beer, nor is it meant to be at 7.7%ABV served in a double-deuce. It is an excellent example of Lagunitas’ ability and of West Coast hops, but could be a bit aggressive (at 102 IBU) for the non-hopheads among us. I recommend this though for anyone looking for a big beer with body and who is not afraid to dip a toe in the hop end.