Haverhill Brewery Joshua Norton Imperial Stout #stoutday

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Celebrating Stout day with local imperial stout. This is he first beer I’ve had from Haverhill Brewery, but it won’t be the last, this is a really tasty stout. This happens to be a 2011 bottle, but often stouts of this potency, generally hold up well and can even get better with age. 

Haverhill brewery has reciently changed their branding to ‘the tap’, I have to say I like the old branding better, more character, more unique. Also their new website is a little slim on details.

It poured pitch black, with very little carbonation. It smells of coffee and smoke, and tastes of the same. It has a thick, slightly slick mouthfeel, with a slight high alcohol taste.

Sipping this over the course of the evening has been quite enjoyable.

 

Vitals:  9.3 ABV served in a sam Adams perfect pint from a 22 oz bottle at slightly colder than cellar temp.
Taste:  B  This is good, but there are better less acrid imperial stouts out there.
Drinkability:  B-  Can’t finsh a bomber at this abv.
Value:  B+ this is a very affordable imperial stout. I don’t recall exact price, but more than Berkshire, but less than clown shoes.
Label Design:  B  It’s a pretty plain label, but decent looking. I have no idea what the current branding looks like. It does have ingrediant details, and bottle on date, but lacks abv, and IBU.

 

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Adventures in cellaring w/ @prettybeer KK (purchased in Nov 2010)

When I first starting buying craft beer to put away it was because I was intrigued by the possibility. Sure, I’d bought wine to set aside for years (I still have a bottle of Anderson’s Conn Valley Cabernet Sauvignon from 1997 down there – it was an epic year), but I’d never considered beer as cellar-worthy. 

That changed when I got my hands on the big beers from Founders Brewing. I think the first beer I put down in the cellar with a goal of getting it to mellow was Founder’s Backwoods Bastard (it’s still down there). The fresh bottle was a little too fiery for me, something I thought would mellow with age. 

As I talked with friends about aging beers, it became clear there are a lot of folks doing it. So I started putting away a few every once in a while and have built up a pretty sizable collection. I imagine there will be some misses, but also expect more than a few hits. Tonight’s selection is one I hope survived the journey. 

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I loved Pretty Things KK the first time I gave it a try. Loved it. The combination of the dark malt and smooth hops were perfect. It was a great beer to have on a cool Fall day. Since it sounded like it would be a limited release, I went out the next day and found a few more bottles to enjoy. I took two and put them in my cellar. 

Tonight I opened the first of those two. No off smells as I open the bottle… let’s see what it looks/tastes like. 

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It pours dark brown with an ample head. I’m not getting a lot from smelling it though… maybe a bit of molasses. The first taste is interesting. The hops have faded (not surprisingly) and the malt is soft and chewy with hints of vanilla. The finish has a bit of black licorice, which I don’t remember when drinking it young. The carbonation is fine, but not overpowering… it’s great how it coats my mouth with the flavors of vanilla, molasses and liquorice. 

Cellaring a hoppy ale, even a black ale that’s 7.8% ABV, probably is a questionable call, but I consider this a success. I’d love to have a fresh KK to try alongside it, but I’m not sure whether they’ll brew it again (What do you say Dann and Martha?). If they do, I’ll be sure to try a fresh one alongside cellared KK #2. 

Vital Stats: Served at 45F in my trusty tulip. 7.8% ABV

Taste: B+. Smooth and delicious, if not unexpected. 

Drinkability: B. Finishing a bomber is making me a bit woozy. 

Packaging: A. Everything’s here and then some. 

Value: A. $7.25 two years ago for a bomber!??!? That must be like $7.15 today!!

More pictures: 

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I haven’t decided what’s up next for “Adventures in cellaring” – let me know in the comments if you want me to try the Backwoods Bastard. 🙂 

Adventures in cellaring w/ @prettybeer Babayaga (batch #2)

For those of you following along, last night was not successful when it comes to trying a cellared craft beer. But I continue on undeterred… tonight is another night! Another chance for something magical to happen. It’s time to get on with it! 

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Tonight I unearthed a Pretty Things Babayaga from October 2010 (batch #2). It’s been stored at cellar temperatures for the last two years. At 7% ABV, I was a little worried it may have had a hard time weathering two winters, but I pushed forward like a good explorer. 

I cracked it open and immediately smelled the bottle… nothing off putting. All is good so far. The pour went well, beautiful color and appropriate head. A deep smell brings smoke/charcoal with hints of coffee and chocolate. A closer looks shows the head slowly fading away over the course of five minutes

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The first taste is delightful! My tastes are not betrayed by what I smelled and this is a really enjoyable beer. A treat! The malt is strong in this one, with deep chocolate and perhaps a hint of burnt sugar (ahhh Christina’s) in there too. Just a great beer made better (?) with a chance to sit in the cellar for a bit. With the latest batch of Babayaga on shelves now, I’m certainly going to taste the latest batch soon and lay down a bottle or two for a deep sleep. 

My adventures in cellaring continue… 

Field Review: It’s the Not-So-Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown!

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If you’re a regular on the blog you may know that several of us look forward to the Fall (well, let’s be honest: August) with anticipation for the arrival of this year’s crop of pumpkin beers.

Tonight I spotted Harpoon’s UFO pumpkin on draft up in New Hampshire, so despite it being a warm August night, I thought I’d give it a try and start Fall a little early.

Big mistake.

Harpoon’s Pumpkin UFO pours a clear orangish color with medium head. It seems to hit the right (or at least expected notes in the smell category: pumpkin pie, spices (cinnamon) but they’re not quite as prominent as some other pumpkin beers we’ve tried. Still, promising.

Well, to quote The Sundays, here’s where the story ends: tasting this beer was profoundly disappointing. This is probably meant to appeal to a wider audience as it isn’t remotely close to exciting (or indeed interesting). The mouthfeel is thin with medium-high carbonation but it just didn’t deliver in the flavor department. Something vaguely pumpkin-ish is there for sure, but the rest is very can-of-corn with an unpleasant metallic finish.

Look, if you’re going to make a pumpkin beer, MAKE a pumpkin beer!

The more successful (IMO) takes in the style are fuller-bodied beers with some substance to them. Pumpkin dishes tend to be hearty. Pumpkin pie is dense; most people don’t go back for slice #2 (though I have been known to).

This is why Southern Tier’s Pumking rules the style from atop a very high throne: Southern Tier get that Pumpkin beers need to be fuller-bodied, more substantive beers to compliment the snap in the air when most people will enjoy them.

Harpoon’s kick at this particular can is an uninspired, almost cynical take on the pumpkin beer. Avoid.

Vitals: Draught, poured into a chilled pint glass.

Taste: D. Saved from the drainpour abyss only by an inviting smell. Total disappointment.

Drinkability: C- I suppose it’s “drinkable” in that it’s watery, but you will not enjoy the experience.

Packaging: I can’t believe it matters.

Wormtown Brewery’s Hopulence DIPA

I’d heard great things about Wormtown from our fellow CBS contributor Chad, so when I spotted one of their offerings on the shelf at Redstone, I grabbed it.  Bonus that it was a Double IPA and I could review it for IPA Day!  I also picked up a bottle of the highly-regarded Be Hoppy IPA, but as that’s already been reviewed, I’m trying this one tonight.  Again, local beer, I want to like this…here goes.

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Pours a very nice copper color with a nice foamy head that hangs around and laces nicely on the glass.  Not an overpowering nose but I picked up mostly tropical fruit notes.  None of the heady notes you find in some beers of this style.

On the first sip you’re hit with a ton of VERY citrusy hops.  The nose belies what lies beneath.  I was actually taken aback by how ‘tart’ this beer is.  Almost lip-puckeringly so.  Slightly more carbonated than I’d prefer and a fair degree of bitterness at the end which isn’t really my thing.  The hop flavor lingers at the back of your palate. 

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Overall, a good double IPA, but given how many superb takes on this style we’ve tried, this one doesn’t quite stack up given some of the other options out there.  But as Wormtown is a local brewery, I am looking forward to trying more of their product and perhaps make a trip to the brew pub in the near future.

Vitals: Served in a tulip glass at 45F. 8.5% ABV, 120 IBU’s and you’ll taste every one of them.

Taste: B. A nice DIPA, but at the end of the day, a little too bitter at the finish for my liking.  Not enough malt to balance out the hops. 

Drinkability: C.  This is really subjective, but given the ABV and the bitterness, I don’t see wanting more than one glass of this in a sitting.  This is a bottle to share with a friend in my view. 

Packaging: B. Informative label, but a little ho-hum otherwise. 

Value:  I’ll have to back-fill this one.

 

Review at the source: @CiscoBrewers Super Hopped Indie IPA

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I stopped by Cisco Brewers this weekend to check out what was on tap and visit their new raw bar (and hot dog stand – they definitely know their audience!) I wanted to try a few new things (including their XVII Anniversary lager, which will show up in a different post) and in honor of #IPADay decided on the “Super Hopped Indie Pale Ale” as my first drink of the day. 

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I’d read a bit about how they were trying to make an East meets West, suppy hoppy IPA and I think they’ve made a nice beer but not totally suceeded. It pours a rich amber with a nice head and had great grapefruit aroma and a nice citrusy/hoppy taste. Had a slight bitter end, and was very smooth to drink. While it’s a hoppy IPA it didn’t had the real dank punch at some great ones have. I did like it, and I’d definitely pick up a six pack of the to share at a party with other hops-lovers. 

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Vitals: Poured on tap at Cisco Brewers into a plastic cup. 7.58% ABV

Taste: A-. Super delicious. Big grapefruit nose, tons of hops with a grapefruity, almost sweet taste. Very bitter end. 

Drinkability: B+. This is a solid IPA. I wouldnt be able to drink more than two but a six pack would be perfect to share. 

Packaging: B. I drank this on tap, but checked out the bottles they had on hand. Looked like a Cisco beer: high on brand identity, low on excitement. 

 

Meadowlark IPA is a @PrettyBeer

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There are so many great American IPAs out there, it’s hard to excited about trying another one. But this is from Pretty Things – it’s got to be good, right? 

Meadowlark pours a deep orange and forms a nice head that hangs around for a while and leaves nice lacing on the glass. I’m in the habit of going with a rough pour in the hope of bringing out some of the interesting smells and flavors that might stay hidden with a careful pour. This beer is very citrusy on the nose, I actually got a sweet/citrus that smelled distinctly like tangerine juice. 

The taste isn’t completely in line with the smell, less citrus and more pine and bitterness. The malt is there, but doesn’t come to the front like I find with beers like Racer 5.

This is a very enjoyable IPA… not the hop bomb of some other IPAs, but a very solid and fresh addition to the local line-up. You should seek it out before it’s all gone. Given the price, it’s a very good value for a local (to MA) IPA. 

Vital Stats: Served at 45F in a tulip glass. 7.0% ABV. 

Taste: B+. I’d be very happy if someone brought this over to drink with me. 

Drinkability: B+. Enjoyable and gone before you know it. 

Packaging: All the info you need and then some. Love the instructions: “Pour into your favorite cowboy glass and enjoy. No frills required, you can drink it out of the bottle if you need to, you saddle-weary, elbow-lifting traveler.”

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