Hill Farmstead Society & Solitude #4 I had three chairs in my house; One for solitude, Two for friendship, Three for society.

Two Adirondack chairs made from used barrels, Hill Farmstead Brewing, Greensboro Bend, Vermont, Abner IPA, Society & Solitude and Difference & Repetition

(C) 2017 popsonhops

Hill Farmstead has two main themes for their beer. Their “Ancestral” line is a foundational series of standard offerings that follow a loose rotation of release. Each name comes from Shaun Hill’s family tree. There is the familiar Edward, named for Hill’s grandfather who lived in the house that still stands on the brewery property. All told Edward had 13 siblings and you’ll recognize them through Hill’s series of tribute.

The other series of beer is known as the “Philosophical” line. Not surprising as Hill was a philosophy major in college. Where else would Friedrich Nietzche’s birthday (October 15th) be celebrated with cellared rarities like Beyond Good and Evil (named for a book by Nietzche)? More on that stout later.

I’m not one for really deep philosophical thought. In my mind, it always leads back to depressing thoughts of our own insignificance. However, I was taken by the name of this beer and its connection to Henry David Thoreau. Thoreau once said that he had three chairs in his house, one for solitude, two for friendship and three for society. Is it that Society & Solitude leaves out friendship or that friendship is found between Society & Solitude? Hmmm.

Society & Solitude #4

Tasting: October 11, 2017
Style: American Imperial IPA
ABV: 8.0%
Beer #: 1,109

I read a description of Society & Solitude #4 and it said to think Double Citra and Double Galaxy 97 points Uh, yes please!

Can I just say wow? Amazingly complex with guava, pineapple, orange flesh and some robust citrus rind. A bit more assertive than I was expecting and that’s just fine by me. 97 points.

Beyond Good and Evil (Maple Bourbon-Barrel Aged)

Tasting: October 11, 2017
Style: Stout with Maple Syrup aged in used bourbon-barrels used to age maple syrup
ABV: Unknown
Beer #: 1,110

Beyond Good and Evil deserves more than just a mention at the end of another beer’s entry but I didn’t get any photos. While having lunch at the brewery, my friend was sipping on a stout. He said that it could be the best stout he’s ever had in his life. I respect his opinion and dashed off for my own pour before we hit the road for home. The tap room line was about 15 people deep. I couldn’t stand the wait.

Incredible balance, cherries, mellow chocolate, earthy moss, syrup influence is entirely complimentary as is the polished roasted bitterness. Beyond Good and Evil has muscled its way into the upper end of my list, solid 98 points. I think my friend was right on the mark. This could be the best stout I’ve ever had.

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So much Craft Beer, So little time Playing dead beer fridge catch up

My 15-year-old beer fridge went kaput the other day. I bought it for $199 so, I’ll consider it an honorable discharge. However, it leaves me in a quandry and I was forced to do an emergency evacuation of my craft beer to a couple coolers. I’ve had a few friends volunteer some fridge space but none made any promises of returning my full inventory. While I try and find a new fridge, I’ll do my part in trying to purge some beer that’s been building in my inventory. I’ll give some rapid fire thoughts on each…

A Beer Has No Name by Liquid Riot Bottling Company

Tasting: September 1, 2017
Style: American Double / Imperial IPA
Beer #: 1,103
ABV: 8.2%

A Beer Has No Name by Liquid Riot Bottling Company, Portland, Maine

(C) 2017 popsonhops

Thanks to my friend, Mark for the goodies from Maine. I’m sorry to hear that his vacation was cut short. Dank hoppy and smokey underneath some bright pineapple sweetness. Hops include: Idaho 7, Mosaic, Citra, and Chinook Hops

Not sure why there isn’t love for this beer on Beer Advocate 85 points I like it a lot, 92 points from me.


Flume by Battery Steele Brewing

Tasting: October 19, 2017
Style: American Double / Imperial IPA
Beer #: 1,104
ABV: 8.0%

Flume American Double / Imperial IPA by Battery Steele Brewing, Portland, Maine

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Another goody from my friend Mark. Lots going on with this beer. Herbal like black tea and lemongrass. Some underlying sweetness of honey and caramel. Bitterness is a little over the top but all in all enjoyable. 91 points.


Devastation by Brewery Vivant

Tasting: October 19, 2017
Style: American Double / Imperial IPA
Beer #: 1,105
ABV: 11.6%

Brewery Vivant Devastation Double IPA aged in Bourbon Barrels

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Admittedly, this has been in the back of my fridge for a month. What’s left is yeasty, odd-flavored, sweet with some oak, vanilla and moss barrel influence. Really an odd beer. 75 points.


Big Timber IPA by Big Timber Brewing

Tasting: October 18, 2017
Style: American IPA
Beer #: 1,106
ABV: 6.5%

Big Timber IPA is an American-style IPA brewed by Big Timber Brewing Company, Elkins, West Virginia

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My first craft beer brewed in West Virginia crosses off state number 37 in my casual pursuit of beer from all 50. A gift from a friend that went to West Virginia. Maybe the first person I’ve known that has been to West Virginia. Very traditional IPA, lots of earthy pine and overpowering grapefruit and lime bittnerness. Has some balance as well with some distinct cracker-like malt. Surprisingly good. Big Timber IPA gets a respectable 87 points from me.


Burlington Beer Company, Chasing Rabbits (wheat IPA) and Orbital Elevator (American Double / Imperial IPA)

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Chasing Rabbits by Burlington Beer Company

Tasting: October 25, 2017
Style: American Pale Wheat Ale
Beer #: 1,107
ABV: 5.8%

Delivers black tea, herbal, and some white wine grapes. Mouthfeel is nice. Like it quite a bit, 91 points.

Orbital Elevator by Burlington Beer Company

Tasting: October 25, 2017
Style: American Imperial IPA
Beer #: 1,108
ABV: 8.3%

Brewed with Oat Malt and Flaked Oats and it does deliver a nice mouthfeel. Dank undertone, bold citrus. Froot loops quality flavor. I liked Chasing Rabbits more but another nice beer, 90 points.

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Head High American IPA Kane Brewing

 

Head High American-style IPA brewed by Kane Brewing Company

(C) 2017 popsonhops

Head High
Tasting: September 1, 2017
Style: American-style IPA
Beer #: 1,102
ABV: 6.6%

I have foodie friends and when they gush on about certain dishes, they often describe the fresh flavor. I think everyone gets that sentiment, and it’s easy to distinguish the differences between freshly picked tomatoes from your garden and the flavorless red things sold at the supermarket. I think the same can be said for hop-based beer. A positive experience can be described as a beer that has a fresh hop flavor. That is a bit deceiving as many hops used are dried and pelletized and really aren’t fresh off the vine. I think the interpretation is that you can taste the true characteristics of the hop and the latest evolution of craft beer has brewers working to spotlight a fresh flavor.

For many years, hops were added primarily in mid-boil and late boil. The mid-boil hop addition converts the alpha acids found in hops to bitterness compounds. The late hop addition released enough hop oils to contribute to a beer’s aroma. The boiling of hops doesn’t do much for imparting that fresh hop flavor. Today, brewers are shifting away from the bitterness addition and concentrating on the late or post cooling by using hopbacks, whirlpools and dry/wet hopping. So, when someone say that a beer has a fresh hop flavor, a lot of creativity went into the finished product.

A friend stopped by Kane during a recent beach trip and picked me up a few four-packs of Head High and Overhead – 93 points . Purely a guess, but I think Head High and Overhead might describe wave heights as overhead represents an imperial IPA as compared to the base IPA.

I’ve had this beer many times and I’m surprised that it hasn’t appeared in my blog. Fresh hops abound here and Head High is a solid go to beer, 91 points.

If you want release information, Kane tends to make announcements via their Instagram Page

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M-43 New England Style IPA Old Nation ...and Juicy New England Style IPA from Petoskey Brewing

Trillium Brewing Double Dry Hopped Summer Street

(C) 2017 popsonhops

East Coast vs West Coast Craft Beer

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?

According to Beer and Brewing, unlocking the Secrets of New England Style IPA Here are the six characteristics that distinguish the style:

  1. Higher protein malts, such as wheat and oats, in the grist (POH: grist is de-husked grain or could mean grain already ground)
  2. Use of contemporary, fruit-forward hops varietals
  3. 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)
  4. Adjusted water chemistry to favor higher chloride levels than typical for IPAs
  5. 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
  6. 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

M-43 IPA Old Nation Brewing, NE Style IPA, part of the New Orthodox Series of IPA

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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.

Visit the Old Nation Brewery Website

Tasting: September 8, 2017
Style: New England Style IPA
Beer # : 1,093
ABV: 5.7%

Juicy New England Style IPA brewed by Petoskey Brewing, Petosky, Michigan

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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.

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