Style: American Strong Ale (It’s really just a Double IPA…)
Malt: American 2-Row, Marris Otter, Victory, Carapils, Caramel 80, Midnight Wheat
Hops: Centennial, Simcoe, Cascade, Falconer’s Flight
Brewer’s Note: “Some may call this a malty double IPA, some a hoppy barley wine. We prefer that it not be classified. We think of it, simply, as our strong winter ale. Intense hop aromatics and flavor (think pine, candied orange) blended with just enough malt sweetness to balance out the palate.”
The label is true to Maine Beer Company simplicity. Plain white label with a simple font and a lot of empty white space, yet the bottle looks beautiful. I do wish they had thrown a little graphic below the beer’s name like they do for their other beers, but I suspect later iterations of this beer will have just that. The bottle is a little too simplistic to keep on its own, but would look great on the shelf with the rest of the MBC bottles, and is still worthy of scrapbooking, if only to help appreciate its beautiful simplicity.
The beer pours an odd and ruddy red/candied brown with slight hints of orange. The head is nicely sized and colored almost a sand dune white. The beer’s body is murky, but not dense, with a nice clouding, while the beer’s lacing is light and stringy on the glass, leaving a few strands. On the nose, the beer smells of big piney hops with just a touch of fruity mango and onion. The malt sits below the hops as a very light caramelly touch mixed with some lovely breadiness that blends beautifully with the piney hops. On the tongue, the beer tastes rather straight forward with big grapefruit and pine bitters, with a touch of sweet malts which lead me to think of ruby red grapefruit juice. This taste is sadly subdued for what I was hoping. The beer begins with bitter aspirin, which quickly opens into grapefruit melding with light sweet malts that bring big ruby red grapefruit flavors to the mouth. The finish is strong with grapefruit and pine and a big rush of alcoholic heat, though no alcoholic flavors are present at all. The aftertaste rings nicely with light pine and some sweet caramel malt. On the mouth, the beer feels medium in body with a little bit of heaviness on the tongue. The beer is smooth and creamy, with a nice crispness to it that does leave me feeling slightly refreshed. The mouth is left slightly damp, with only a ghost of the dryness coming off from the hops. Overall this beer is a bit of a disappointment. It is not a horrible beer, but it really doesn’t have the complexity of other Maine Beer Company beers. It reminds me of Celebration, only with more heat in the finish, which is nice I guess, but not worth the $9 I paid for it… The beer really just feels like a Double IPA to me, as I am really not getting enough of the malt from it. The beer is simple and tasty, but I was hoping for so much more and it just did not deliver. This beer is good, but I wouldn’t try it for its price point. This beer just doesn’t live up to the MBC reputation of amazing hoppy beers, nor does it touch upon the well crafted malts of Mean Old Tom or King Titus. I’m disappointed in this beer.