Newburyport Brewing Company: Plum Island

It’s time for another installment of the unofficial series: “Rich just got off of work and needs a beer”.  Considering the forecast for tomorrow is set to soar into the 90’s (wasn’t it in the 50’s last week?), I’ve decided to explore what beers that I would potentially want to be drinking during the hot New England summer.  Last night, the bar I work at had a Newburyport Brewing Company pint night.  One of the featured beers was their Plum Island Belgian Wit (and I’m a sucker for Belgian Wits, so this just seemed right).  Check out my tasting notes:

Beer Name: Plum Island

Brewery: Newburyport Brewing Company

Brewery Location: Newburyport, MA

Beer Style: Belgian Witbier

ABV: 5.4%

Appearance

Plum Island pours a straw-golden color with a thick creamy head.  Hazy, but not quite opaque.

Plum Island

Aroma

I picked up some lemon/orange citrus character (more peel/rind than actual juice), with some background notes of banana.  Overall a very inviting nose!

Taste & Aftertaste

The dominant flavors of this beer seem to match the nose of it.  Right up front, I get a big burst of citrus and banana, rounded off by a very slight peppery twang.  I want to say that the some of the citrus that I detect comes from coriander (at least that’s what the flavor is reminding me of) which is traditional in a Belgian wit.  I’ve had more than a couple of examples of this style of beer that were overly spicy or bitter (sort of like when you over-zest a lemon and you get that bitter pith)- this beer is not like that in the least.  If anything, it’s really smooth and easy to drink- kind of like a Hoegaarden but less peppery.  It’s got a thick and creamy mouthfeel, but also finishes fairly dry making you want to take another sip.

Overall Impressions

This is an excellent example of a Belgian Wit.  If I had more of an ego, I would call this high praise because Belgian Wits are one of my favorite go-to styles.  Take my word for what it is.  This beer is smooth, citrusy, and refreshing.  It’s something I would not mind going back to over and over again this summer, especially on a hot summer day.  If this is my kickoff to the summer, then I’m off to an excellent start.

Lawson’s Finest Liquids: Sip of Sunshine 4/21/2017

So on the front page of my blog, I make a disclaimer that I am not in the business of blogging exclusively about beer “whales”…that said if I ever had the opportunity to review such a beer, I would be sure to do so.  Well today my wife surprised me with just such an opportunity (I love that woman).  She surprised me with a beer called “Sip of Sunshine”- a Double IPA whose reputation is on par with that of Heady Topper from The Alchemist (and its reputation is well deserved).  I know that I have been doing a lot of IPA posts lately (particularly New England-style IPAs), but just indulge me for a moment:

Beer Name: Sip of Sunshine

Brewery: Lawson’s Finest Liquids

Brewery Location: Warren, VT

Beer Style: Double IPA

ABV: 8%

IBU: 65

Appearance

Sip of Sunshine pours a hazy golden-orangey color with a creamy white head.

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Aroma

The aroma is very fruit/citrus forward.  I picked up on a little bit of orange, grapefruit, and pineapple.  Very appealing!

Taste & Aftertaste

Let’s get the obvious of this beer out of the way first- this beer is very hop forward with lots of fruit up front.  I picked up on a lot of orange and grapefruit peel character (not like taking a bite out of the fruit, but more like the zest of the fruit).  Upon the first sip, the beer doesn’t start off that bitter, however the bitterness lingers and builds more over time as you continue to drink it.  This beer is medium bodied, though I wouldn’t say it has a “soft” mouthfeel like many New England-style IPAs tend to have.  In terms of the malt character of this beer, it has a multi-grain bread-like character with an almost “wheat thin” flavor in the finish.

Overall Impressions

At the end of the day, it was hard not to want to review and critically analyze this beer.  Heady Topper was one of the beers that helped me take the plunge into the craft beer world, but I was lucky to also have this beer around the same time that I had my first Heady (so it’s special to me).  This is a great Double IPA for you hop heads out there and, in a way, is a very short look back into local beer history.  Sip of Sunshine is one of the beers that has helped shape the evolution of the New England-style IPA, and I think it’s a beer that every hop head should have the privilege to drink at least once in their lives.

Mighty Squirrel: Sport Kiwi White 4/7/2017

Today is National Beer Day!  Now I know what you’re thinking- today is one of those made up “holidays” like National “Speak Like a Pirate Day”…but there is some actual historical precedence to celebrate this day.  On April 7, 1933 FDR enacted the Cullen-Harrison Act, which legalized the sale of low alcohol beer (<4%) and led to the eventual demise of Prohibition later that year.  As someone whose livelihood is dependent on alcohol, I want to show my appreciation for the holiday by sharing my review of a local beer that was mostly unknown to me until recently.  Here’s my review of Mighty Squirrel’s: Sport Kiwi White:

Beer Name: Sport Kiwi White

Brewery: Mighty Squirrel

Brewery Location: Boston, MA

Beer Style: Witbier

ABV: 4.8%

IBU: 12

Appearance

Sport Kiwi White pours brilliantly clear light golden color and has virtually no head to it.  I could read a book through the glass- that’s how clear it is.  I was shocked- typical witbiers are never this clear.

Mighty Squirrel Kiwi White

Aroma

This beer has some extremely pungent fruit aromatics.  I detect the kiwi in this, but to me this beer smells almost identical to a green jolly rancher (Note: not in the sense that I detect acetaldehyde- an off-flavor that has a distinct green apple flavor).

Taste & Aftertaste

This beer is certainly fruit forward (as I expected based on the aroma), however it’s not as overwhelming to the senses as I anticipated.  I can definitely taste the kiwi alongside with some peach notes and hints of orange too.  However, the fruit character is a bit more subdued than I was expecting- which is a good thing for me because I believe beer should taste like beer first, and fruit/other flavorings second.  I get some light tartness in this beer which is accentuated by the citrus flavors, alongside some notes of sourdough bread from the malt.  There is some lingering astringency in the finish of this beer that I’m not a huge fan of, but it’s only a light astringency (so it’s easily ignored).  The body of this beer is very light (bordering on thin), but this beer markets itself as a low carb beer (so I’m letting it slide).

Overall Impressions

Overall, Sport Kiwi White is not your traditional looking or tasting witbier, but it does taste good.  It’s very light, refreshing, and would be great to have on a warm summer day (those days are around the corner).  Honestly (this is the beer nerd in me talking) if I’m looking for a traditional witbier, I am not grabbing this beer… BUT if I’m outside grilling on a hot day, I’m having at least three of these.

Wachusett Brewing Company: Wally 3/28/2017

After a long, tiring shift at work, I found myself with some extra time on my hands.  So I decided to kill two birds with one stone: relieve some work-related stress with a beer and write a new review.  I decided to try Wachusett Brewing Company’s Wally because it was their take on the New England-style IPA (which I always have a soft spot for).  I was especially interested because it’s always nice to see a brewery that has been around for a long time continuing to produce good beer that is in touch today’s trends and tastes (i.e. they’re not stuck in the past).  Here are my notes:

Beer Name: Wally

Brewery: Wachusett Brewing Company

Brewery Location: Westminster, MA

Beer Style: IPA

ABV: 7%

IBU: 70

Appearance

Wally pours a hazy, golden color with a thin white lace that follows the beer all the way down the glass.

Wally

Aroma

Floral (almost perfume-like) with slight hints of grapefruit/orange qualities.  I also detect some very slight dank (marijuana-like) notes in the background.

Taste & Aftertaste

The mouthfeel of this beer is softer compared to traditional IPAs (particularly West Coast-style IPAs- which are dry, crisp, and firmly bitter).  However, the mouthfeel is neither thick nor creamy like one would expect from the popular NEIPAs on the market.  The hop bitterness is firm (yet pleasant), floral, and does not linger for too long.  In addition to being floral, I also pick up on hints of grapefruit and other indiscriminate citrus fruit notes from the hops.  Overall, the hop profile is very nice!  I get some alcohol warmth from this beer, but it’s not overbearing.  This is a very nice IPA!

Overall Impressions

This was a very interesting beer for me to evaluate.  With the ever-growing popularity of the New England-style IPA, it’s always interesting to taste a new interpretation on the style (especially one from a brewery who has been cranking out beers for over 20 years).  I would categorize this beer to be somewhere between the NEIPA and West Coast IPA.  On the one hand, the mouthfeel is not quite thick or creamy enough to constitute a NEIPA, nor does it pack a walloping citrus punch (I don’t think fanboys wouldn’t call this beer “juicy”, but that’s just my opinion).  The beer also has a bit too much of a bitter backbone to meet the NEIPA criteria.  On the other hand, the beer is hazy, and the mouthfeel is softer when you compare it to West Coast-style IPAs (which are dry and crisp with a very prominent hop bite).  But you know what?  Who cares about style?  This is an excellent IPA.  It doesn’t need to conform to trendy guidelines (or any for that matter) to be pleasing to me.  It tastes good so I’m drinking it, and you should too!

Free Will Brewing Co: Blood & Guts Sour Ale (2015) 3/14/2017

Hey there folks!  Today, Rhode Island was hit by a “blizzard”.  In Providence, we got a fair amount of snow in the morning, and at least half of it was promptly washed away by rain in the afternoon.  Either way the weather has been very poor, which means that I have stuck inside all day.  So I decided to grab myself a sour cherry ale called “Blood & Guts Sour Ale” from Free Will Brewing Co to help distract myself from my cabin fever and the schizophrenic New England weather patterns.  Here’s the scoop:

Beer Name: Blood & Guts Sour Ale (2015)

Brewery: Free Will Brewing Co

Brewery Location: Perkasie, PA

Beer Style: American Wild Ale

ABV: 6.1%

IBU: N/A

Appearance

Blood and Guts pours a deep mahogany color with a effervescent white head that disappears almost immediately- kind of like a champagne.

Blood and Guts

Aroma

Slightly vinegary with faint notes of cherries, raisins, and figs.

Taste & Aftertaste

First of all- let’s just point out that this beer is not for someone who is not into sours.  This beer is pretty aggressively sour – it has a very prominent acetic character with some lactic tones in the background to add to its complexity.  Despite the fact that this beer has no head, it actually has a very prickly mouthfeel from the high carbonation.  I pick up some strong (dark) fruit characters in this beer- cherries are definitely in the forefront, but they don’t take over the beer.  Truthfully I was expecting something more closely resembling a Kriek (a Lambic-style beer that incorporates and features cherries heavily).  Instead, the cherry notes are balanced really nicely with notes of green apple and raisin, resulting in a complex and pleasant fruity/sour medley.  This beer starts off sweet, but finishes really dry.  It was quite delicious!

Overall Impressions

This is definitely one of the better sours that I’ve had in awhile.  This beer is neither overly fruity nor overly sweet while still packing a big sour punch.  I dove into this beer with the expectations of being delivered a cherry bomb, but instead I was given something with cherry overtones that are complimented by a supporting cast of other fruits- it was a nice surprise!  To any sour-heads out there, this beer will certainly meet your needs- it teeters on mouth-puckering, but doesn’t go over the edge.  It was definitely a good find on my part!

Long Live Beerworks: The All Seeing Eye 3/1/2017

Hey folks! I’ve been falling a little bit behind on my personal reviews of beer (in large part due to work and other blog posts), but I’m back with a new review of a beer almost literally in my own backyard: The All Seeing Eye from Longlive Beerworks.  I recognize that I don’t always review the most trendy and hip beers out there (I am trying to do a variety after all), however this beer has been gathering a lot of buzz in the local craft beer scene, so I figured that I had to check it out.  So for your reading and tasting pleasure I give you The All Seeing Eye:

Beer Name: The All Seeing Eye

Brewery: Long Live Beerworks

Brewery Location: Providence, RI

Beer Style: Double IPA

ABV: 8.4%

IBU: N/A

Appearance

The All Seeing Eye pours an opaque pale-golden color with a thin white head that clings to life (and slowly dies) over time.  Let’s face it- if I put this in front of you and just called it “juice”, you would probably believe me (I still refuse to call these beers “juicy” though).

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Aroma

Hoppy. The most dominant notes in the aroma are a plethora of tropical fruit with some grassy notes present as well.

Taste & Aftertaste

Right off the bat, I get notes of mango and pineapple, accompanied by light hints of orange and lime in the background.  This beer is a definite fruit/citrus bomb.  I get some bitterness in this beer, but it’s at comparatively low levels for a double IPA (which is typical for the New England-style IPA).  The mouthfeel is on the thicker side (I do detect a perceived sweetness to it), but the beer actually finishes pretty dry.  To top it all off, the beer has virtually no alcohol burn to it at all (which is scary considering listed alcohol percentage).  The perceived sweetness that I pick up is likely the indicator towards the beer’s high alcohol content.  I’m not complaining- I feel warm inside now.

Overall Impressions

This beer is excellent and I take a lot of pride knowing that it is brewed right in my home city.  The fruit and citrus notes derived from the hops makes this beer unbelievably accessible to the average beer drinker.  Just to clarify that statement- I wouldn’t introduce a novice beer drinker to a normal IPA (in large part due to the bitterness), but I would certainly introduce them to a New England-style IPA because the bitterness isn’t so intense that it would scare them off.  If anything- it’s a gateway beer to other IPAs.  Honestly, I would put this beer on par with any of the super trendy New England IPAs on the market right now (see my review on Tree House: Green).  This beer is an excellent representation of what my home state can produce, and I couldn’t be prouder.

Banded Horn Brewing Co: Pepperell Pilsener 2/9/2017

Today the Ocean State is being pummeled by a blizzard, and after being bogged down by a busy work schedule, I find that I finally have a lot of extra time to burn on this excessively snowy day.  So with that, I have decided to review a Pilsner!  You’re probably thinking that I picked one of the worst “cold weather beers” possible.  This is true, however I have been meaning to review this particular beer for several weeks, but 2 different recent colds have compromised my ability to taste, so I’m going to knock this one out before the next one hits me.  Enter Pepperell Pils from Banded Horn.  Check it out:

Beer Name: Pepperell Pilsener

Brewery: Banded Horn Brewing Co.

Brewery Location: Biddeford, Maine

Beer Style: Pilsner

ABV: 4.6%

IBU: 38

Appearance

Pepperell Pils pours a straw-yellow color, is mostly clear (with a slight haze to it), and a solid white head that follows the glass all the way down.

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Aroma

This beer has a lightly flowery and grainy aroma with some definite hints of green apple on the nose.

Taste & Aftertaste

A grainy character (with slight hints of cooked corn) hits you up front (I am mostly reminded of white bread), followed by a prominent (though not remotely aggressive) bitterness.  A sort of earthy/flowery hop character is present in the flavor, however I would not mind seeing more of it.  When served cold, the green apple characteristics that I picked up in the aroma aren’t as present, but they do shine through more as the beer warms up.  Other fruity esters also appear as the beer warms up.  The dry finish and low alcohol makes this beer a very easy drinker.  Overall, I would describe this beer as light and delicate, but with some interesting complexities.

Overall Impressions

This is not a bad beer overall, though truthfully it has some qualities to it that I feel get in the way of the elements that I like most in pilsners.  Most notably the green apple characteristics and the fruity esters seem to be vying for attention against the flowery hop and grainy malt characteristics that I usually love in a pilsner.  I found those fruity elements kind of distracting.  Again, this is not a bad beer, and I would enjoy a few of these at a barbeque, but at the end of the day there are other pilsners out there that I simply enjoy more.  The devil is in the details.