March 2019: New England Pops…including Hill Farmstead

Hill Farmstead Brewery view from inside the brew house
(C) 2017 popsonhops

Hill Farmstead,, Nelson (Single Hop): Beer #1,155 :750 ml fill from the brewery. Soft and pillowy as expected. New Zealand hop presents orange rind bitterness. Pretty assertive bitterness. 91 points

Hill Farmstead Harlan: Beer #1,156: You know that smell of fresh hops and sweet malt that fills the air at a brewery? This beer’s flavor comes as close to that experience as anything I’ve ever had. Love it…96 points

Hill Farmstead, Society & Solitude # 6: Beer #1,157: I’ve now had what I’ll call the sweet spot of the Society & Solitude run… # 4, # 5 and now # 6. This is so amazingly good. Soft edges on the bitterness, soft mouthfeel, lush fruit, lemons, strawberry…so good 97 points.

Foam & Other Half, Mouthful of Diamonds: Beer #1,158 – Spectacular collaboration. soft but assertive, juicy…really juicy, orange rind, pear. 97 points.

Foam, Like Clockwork: Beer #1,159 – Straight from the brewery. When it was fresh, spectacular. Massive aroma, full-bodied, juicy beyond belief that squelches any hint of bitterness. A few weeks in it changes with a shift in power between juice/bitter. I’ll judge it on the fresh…96 points.

Foam, Think I’m in Love: Beer #1,160 – First time having this beer, filled with strawberry and assertive bitterness. Second time, more of a dank herbal experience. Hoppy resin, lemon-grass. 92 points.

Tree House, Snow: Beer #1,161 – A unique beer from Tree House. The predominant flavor feature to be lemon. Chewy mouthfeel. Bitterness is a bit much for my liking but still a nice beer 90 points.

Upper Pass, First Drop: Beer #1,162 – Double Dry-hopped. zmade with Azacca, Centennial, Mosaic and Citrus hops. Tastes a bit old school. Some orange rind zest bitterness. Had higher expectations 88 points

Treehouse BBBright: Beer #1,163 – Easy drinking beer, soft, pithy with lemon, pineapple and mango. 93 points.

Green Empire Brewing, Side Business: Beer #1,164 – From Colchester, VT. A really a nice beer, the advertise it as grapefruit and pine but I find it opens with some nice strawberry, pineapple. Enjoyed this to a 92.

Treehouse, AAAlter Ego: Beer #1,165 – Big fan of Alter Ego. the AAA version doesn’t seem to ramp it up but still a really nice beer 94 points.

Upper Pass, Cloud Drop: Beer #1,166 – Really nice aroma after I crack open the can, juicy with just the right amount of bitterness. 92 points

Hill Farmstead James: Beer #1,167 – A black IPA. Has the Hill Farmstead softness but it rubs off the edges of what should (in my expectation) a little more roasted and lemon flavors. Still a nice easy drinking beer from Hill Farmstead, 91 points

Treehouse Super Sap: Beer #1,168 – Always thought of regular Sap more of a west coast IPA with it’s pine nature and slightly amplified bitterness. Super Sap was a pleasant surprise, really nicely balanced juicy, pine, 94 points.

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Foam Brewers Group Effort, The Fruit that Ate Itself and Dystopian Dream Girl

Group Effort by Foam Brewers
Double IPA
Brewed in collaboration Foam Brewers with Crosby Hop Farms of Woodburn, Oregon
ABV: 8.0%
Beer #: 1,152

Group Effort by Foam Brewers with Crosby Hop Farm

(C) 2019 popsonhops

Amazing aroma just blasts out of the can. I wish someone would make body wash that smells this awesome. Tropical fruit abound in mango, papaya and pineapple. In the first few sips, the flavor follows the aroma in a smooth and polished delivery. Adds in some rugged citrus. My only knock…and it’s minor one at that… is that the grapefruit bitterness punches its way in a bit too much on the finish and lingers. Really nice IPA from Foam Brewers, 94 points.

The Fruit That Ate Itself
Double IPA
ABV: 7.2%
Beer #: 1,153

The Fruit That Ate Itself by Foam Brewers

(C) 2019 popsonhops

Citrus, pineapple with some peach, strawberry. Citrusy bitterness muscles its way in an intrusive way as I work my way through this IPA from Foam Brewers, 93 points.

Not Pictured: Dystopian Dream Girl
Double IPA
ABV: 7.0%
Beer #: 1,154

A friend brought one for me for a dinner out. Really enjoyed it. If you closed your eyes, you’d swear you were sipping on a Trillium Double IPA. Same pithy, pillowy juice bomb with a bone dry finish. Best of a formidable trio from Foam. 95 points.

Related Links:

Crosby Hop Farm

Foam Brewers

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Bourbon County Brand Stout Vanilla 2018 Goose Island On the shoulders of giants!

2018 Goose Island Bourbon County Brand Stout Vanilla

(C) 2018 popsonhops

2018 Goose Island Bourbon County Brand Stout Vanilla
Tasting: December 31, 2018
Beer # 1,151
ABV: 14.9%

Emerging Styles of Beer

On the banner of this website is a beer glass with the simple expression “Beer is Art” etched on its side. This statement cannot be more true as the ever expanding sea of zymurgists push to create new and interesting culinary twists on this basic ancient brew. As an example, I’ll point to Kim Sturdavant, of San Francisco’s Social Kitchen & Brewery for his creation of a new style called Brut IPA. While Brut IPA may have been introduced by Sturdavant a few years ago, it may very well be the beer that’s created the most buzz in 2018. What’s fascinating about Brut IPA is the addition of an enzyme called amyloglucosidase which minimizes the sugar creating a hoppy champagne-like experience.

The Stalwarts of Style

While many national brewers are still trying to catch up to the New England style hazy IPA, I suspect that we’ll see a plethora of Brut IPA this year as the masses push the style into the mainstream. Craft beer has been a long history of “me too”. Probably the most replicated creative beer genre has been bourbon-barrel aged stout. The first person attributed with putting a beer into a used bourbon barrel to age a beer was Greg Hall from Goose Island Beer Co who did it in 1992. Considering the beer landscape of the time, Hall’s experiment was truly ground breaking and showed that a massive stout could carry the barrel’s influence in a incredibly complementary way.

The subject

Here we are twenty-six years later and I’m holding a descendant of Hall’s work.

In 2014, Goose Island set the secondary beer market on its ear with the release of Vanilla Rye (previously released in 2010). Within an instant, the 2014 bottles were selling for between $200 to $300. This release is not the same as the 2014 release as it uses different barrels (from Heaven Hill) and is aged on Madagascar Vanilla beans. I’ll note the original retail price of this 2018 bottle was $25 and supply was ample enough not to fuel a vigorous secondary market.

The conclusion

Goose Island Bourbon County Brand Stout Vanilla, totally fascinating…like half stout, half cream soda. Lots of other complexity below that creamy vanilla like layers of chocolate, dark fruit, tobacco and finishing with a sharp boozy heat. That booziness does detract and this rambunctious stout will need a little cellar time to smooth out the edges. The label suggests that it will continue to mature for five years in the bottle and that’s what I intend to do with the other bottle I bought. While the popular community sites have this bottle of 2018 Goose Island Bourbon County Brand Stout Vanilla at around 97 – 98, I’m not that enthusiastic — at least right now. While I’d say right now, this is a 92, I’ll check in on this one again in a couple of years, I suspect it will be epic.

and a Happy New Year to all.

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What else have I been drinking?

Tree House Brewing, Monson, MA
Foothills Bourbon Barrel Aged Sexual Chocolate
Old Man Extra Special Bitter by Tree House Brewing, Charlton, Massachusetts
Goose Island Bourbon County Brand Stout Rare 2015

Left to Right:

Treehouse Brewing from former location in Monson, MA

Foot Hills Brewing: Bourbon Barrel Aged Sexual Chocolate Imperial Stout
Beer #1,148:
When I started trading, this was an early “must have”. I guess my love of the movie Coming to America motivated me to make sure I had this in my cellar…”that boy is good” To be fair, I’ve had this for about three years and I had higher expectations for the experience. Came across a bit thin, smokey acrid, some raisin. I’ll put Sexual Chocolate at 90 points.

Treehouse Brewing: Old Man (#1,149).
Beer #1,149:
If a restaurant is known for a certain dish…you order that dish no? Well, Treehouse is known for high quality New England style IPAs and some nice stouts. An English-style extra special bitter (ESB)? In unusual style, it took them a few weeks to sell this one out. I guess that proves my point. I’m willing to give Old Man a chance but it lacks in any malty characteristics rather has a plastic-like chemical flavor with off yeasty fruits. 85 points.

Goose Island 2015 Bourbon County Brand Stout Rare:
Beer #1,150:
There is a great story around this release. How could the brewery follow up on the 2010 version that was aged in 23 year old Pappy Van Winkle bourbon barrels? Well as the story goes, the folks at Heaven Hill Brewing found some barrels that had been aging bourbon for 35 years. It seems that these may have been forgotten as it’s unusual for bourbon to age more that 23 years. The “rare” comes from the barrels used, and these are rare gems indeed.

Of course, “rare” also translates into the ability to charge an inflated price. This bottle of Goose Island 2015 Bourbon County Brand Stout Rare is probably the most expensive bottle of beer I’ve ever had. Retailed for about $60 – $70. It comes in a nice wooden box. While it makes a nice presentation, it didn’t help tame the overpowering boozy whiskey flavors. Has some underlying char, oak and dark fruit. While others might have to equate cost with liking the beer…this was a gift and I’ll call it as I see it. Needs more balance. Goose Island 2015 Bourbon County Brand Stout Rare, 90 points.

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