Sea Hag IPA (New England Brewing Company)

Style: American India Pale Ale

6.2% ABV

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Brewer’s Note: “Sea Hag IPA is one of the first craft brewed American India Pale ales to ever be packaged in cans. Hand made with 3 malts and a generous amount of hops throughout the brewing process lends a crisp finish and a big floral aroma.”

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The beer’s label is a bit generic for a canned craft beer (I wonder if I can call that an oxymoron?).  The hag and her hand are funky, and the font for the beer’s title is neat too, but they are smooshed onto the top of the can and the brewery’s logo is given center stage, which is too bad since the logo is a bit dull and doesn’t match the black background and yellow font of the can.

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The beer pours like dehydrated piss with a creamy, slight off-white head of small sized bubbles that fizzle away a touch too quickly.  In body the beer is golden yellow and clean of particles, but with a slight haze and opacity to it.  On the nose, the beer smells of bitter, caramel pine needles.  Big sticky resin mixes with bready caramel in an intriguing dance on the nostrils.  A touch of dactyl might be present in the nose since the caramel does get a touch buttery.  From the can the pine scent is much more resinous with a touch of dankness added.  On the tongue, the beer is nicely bitter with a slightly warming sweetness that moves as you sip and balances the palate wrecking bitters nicely.  The finish and aftertaste are surprisingly dry in comparison to the sweetness that is perceived during the sip.  There is also a gentle acidity.  In flavor the beer begins as pine pitch and bitter grapefruit. Medicinal bitters move in on the finish and aftertaste along with smooth, caramel bread.  From the can, the caramel is more present in the middle of the sip and gives a nice balance to the beer.  In the mouth, the beer feels medium in body with a middling carbonation and just a touch of astringency from the bitters.  The mouthfeel is crisp with a touch of syrupiness.  Overall, this is a solid IPA that I would love to have as a regular in my fridge.  Great American IPA bitterness; this is not a super juicy or tropical IPA, it’s just classic bitters.

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For fun I tried pairing the beer with Trader Joe’s “Huntsman’s cheese” made up of a Double Gloucester and a Blue Stilton.  The cheese is rich, creamy, and stinky, which very well may not pair nicely with this beer, but I was curious what the stink would do alongside the bitters.  After the first bite, surprisingly, the beer and the cheese co-exist beautifully in the mouth.  The fat of the cheese dampens down the bitters slightly in the cheese, but overall I get all of the flavors of both the cheese and beer with little to no alteration.  This is not a perfect pairing, but if you want an IPA to wash down a stinky cheese, this beer will not hurt the cheese’s flavors.

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4.03/5, 42/50 BJCP, A in Style

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