Tasting: September 29, 2017 Beer # 1,095 ABV: 6.8%
Apparently, they’ve tweaked the earlier version of Wrench IPA. According to the label, they had to “unlearn everything”. I’m glad they did as this is very New England. It’s entirely smooth, drinkable and crisp. I get a pithy lemon, pear some mellow mango and a wisp of pineapple. Wrench IPA is a very nice 91 points.
Tasting: September 29, 2017 Beer # 1,096 ABV: 5.4%
Label says that this is tastefully dry-hopped with Cascade, Centennial and Comet hops. Simplistic and not much depth here but still entirely drinkable. A tad fizzy a little clunky bitter on the finish. I’d tab Green Room at 86 points.
Silent Disco by Funk Brewing
Tasting: September 30, 2017 Style: American IPA Beer#: 1, 097 ABV: 6.8%
Pear and citrus upfront. Just a tad fizzy and has some minor throat burn. However, still a well-balanced easy drinking beer. In conclusion, 90 points.
Tropical Cream Pop Tasting: September 16, 2017 Style: IPA with mango, pineapple, milk sugar and vanilla Beer #: 1,094 ABV: 6.3%
Tropical. Aaah. Makes me think of a mid-winter retreat to my favorite Caribbean destination, Grand Cayman. Pardon me while I have a sensory memory of deplaning via the rolling staircase. The hot and humid air is intensified and stirred up by the whirring jet engines. An instant lather of sweat wells up as I haul my luggage to the car rental office across the street. Last year, it was so hot, the wheels on my luggage melted (yes, really). My thickened New Jersey blood needs a week of tropical rum punch and lawnmower beer to help me acclimate.
Okay, daydream over. Let’s pour a beer. This can’s label indicates that this IPA is made with mango, pineapple, milk sugar, and vanilla. Unfortunately, I don’t get any of these flavors. Way off the mark here. Has a mild throat burn and a clunky bitterness. A bit too too much in the way of lime or citrus rind. No juiciness whatsoever. Tropical Cream pop may have a couple moments when it’s tolerable but the false palate readings don’t help. 83 points, yikes.
There’s this “east coast versus west coast” thing in beer. Funny, there seems to be an east coast versus west coast thing virtually everywhere. In football, there is the west coast offense versus northeastern smash mouth football. Rap music had a bicoastal rivalry that resulted in more than one murder. For many years, craft beer has had a rivalry. The west coast (specifically California) has Pliny the Elder and the east coast (specifically Vermont) has Heady Topper and fans bicker over which is better.
In Massachusetts, brewers like Trillium and Tree House have kicked up the rivalry a bit with a trendy push to hazy looking or unfiltered juice bombs. These beers moved away from the assault of bitterness found in popular west coast style IPA and highlight flavors of fleshy citrus and sweet tropical fruits. However, brewers from Oregon have claimed to have been creating these juice bombs long before their east coast counterparts.
What makes New England Style IPA different than other IPA?
Higher protein malts, such as wheat and oats, in the grist (POH: grist is de-husked grain or could mean grain already ground)
Use of contemporary, fruit-forward hops varietals
Restrained bitterness from fewer kettle-hops additions (POH: kettle hops are added at start of boil) and higher whirlpool-hops rates (POH: Whirlpool is cooked beer or wort that is pumped into a vessel at high velocity causing a whirlpool)
Adjusted water chemistry to favor higher chloride levels than typical for IPAs
Fermenting with a low-attenuating (POH: attenuating is the amount or percentage of sugar consumed by yeast), low-flocculating (POH: flocculation describes how yeast react at the end of their life-cycle), ester-forward yeast strain
Unique dry-hopping techniques and schedules, including dry hopping during fermentation
If you don’t live in New England, what’s a beer lover to do?
The New England style IPA has gained a strong legion of fans but unfortunately, the most popular brewers in the northeast are self-distribution and typically brewery-only releases. Trading sites on Facebook are bursting with activity and interest in juice bombs from the northeast.
Other regional brewers have started to introduce their own interpretation of the style and I’m glad to have my hands on two popular entries from the great craft beer state of Michigan.
M-43 Old Nation Brewing
(C) 2017 popsonhops
Tasting: September 8, 2017 Style: New England Style IPA Beer # : 1,092 ABV: 6.8%
M-43 is a 136-mile Michigan highway that connects the East Lansing area, Kalamazoo and points southwest. The highway also passes through Williamston, the location of Old Nation Brewing. This beer could be the quintessential New England style IPA of the region and I’m happy that my friend gave me one from his recent trade.
M-43 is the first release in Old Nation’s “New Orthodox” IPA series, it uses Calypso, Simcoe, Citra and Amarillo hops. According to the brewery, it promises citrus, tropical notes of pineapple, mango and grapefruit with a soft, pillowy mouthfeel. Bitterness is moderate at an IBU of 65.
I got plenty of juice with mango, papaya and pineapple. Really enjoyable, I wish I had more. 94 points.
Tasting: September 8, 2017 Style: New England Style IPA Beer # : 1,093 ABV: 5.7%
Juicy? Not in my book but entirely drinkable. Has a lot of tea leaf and honey. I like that the bitterness is throttled back. The flavor does drop-out mid-palate and there is some odd fizziness on the finish. In conclusion, Juicy is a solid beer at 92 points.
Tasting: June 18, 2017 Style: American Double / Imperial IPA Beer #: 1,091 ABV: 9.3%
Even though our coolers would be packed to the gills with goodies from both Trillium and Tree House, my friend and I could not resist a stop at Yankee Beverage in Sturbridge to investigate some of the local “shelfies”. It’s like a treasure hunt, but this time there weren’t any rare gems to be found in a sea of unfamiliar labels. Since Jigsaw Jazz was recommended to my friend before our trip, we each bought a six-pack of twelve-ounce cans.
A little odd this one. The first sip is of clove and cracked black pepper. Opens up to a tropical fruit IPA complete with grape juice and melon. Alcohol is wonderfully concealed. I’ll also say I expected a pretty big sweet malt base to support the ABV but it isn’t overly sweet. Not a fan of the upfront spices but overall, Jigsaw Jazz is a well-executed beer, 89 points.