Style: American India Pale Ale
From: North Hampton, MA
Note on the Beer from an Interview with Draft Magazine:
“They say a writer should write about what they know. So really, we’re brewing what we like to drink and we really wanted to get something that was tropical and citrusy up front with a piney, dank baseline to it and a clean finish. We’re all hopheads, so we wanted a real fresh West Coast-style, dry-hopped IPA.”
This beer was gifted to me by a good friend out in western Mass, who insisted that this was the closest thing to Heady Topper that he had found. I’m admittedly a little tired out by the Heady craze, but that doesn’t mean Heady isn’t a great beer, so I was happy to oblige him a sample (4-pack…), and now here we are. The beer pours from the can as a hazy, “Vermont IPA” golden orange. It forms a big, soapy head of creamy, beige bubbles that leave gorgeous rings of fluffy, fat cling on the side of the glass. Retention is excellent, and despite the beer’s ‘dirty water’ coloring, it looks like a pretty cup of beer. The body is, as I noted, very hazy, and opaque in the thicker part of my glass, though in the thinner part I am able to see shadows from the other side. On the nose, I absolutely see the Heady comparison. Think all the lovely mix of mango, citrus, and dank pine that you have come to expect from Heady. It is a little more herbal and perhaps ‘oniony’ than Heady, but that is not a critique to the nose, rather just a variation in comparison. It’s very green, with chive and spinach, perhaps a touch of arugula, along with a lovely lick of earthy dirt. These scents are lovingly set beside a light caramel malt backbone that adds a slightly sticky sweet tinge alongside orange juice, lemon peel, and some pith. The booze is mellow in the background, and a touch less integrated than in Heady, adding a heat to the nostrils, but also a spice that I really enjoy in this IPA format. It has the great balance of juicy and dank that Heady lovers crave, and I can’t see a hop head being disappointed with the nose. On the tongue, the beer tastes softly sweet like a good marmalade, but this oozes into a rich bitterness that is more so citrusy than piney, though pine and medicinal bitters enter on the finish to keep the sweetness in check. The middle of the sip sees a rather large sweetness enters, and this is really where the beer seems to veer from the Heady-path, as the sweet marmalade drizzles over the hops and gets caramelly, too. Only in the finish and the aftertaste do the bitters and an earthy brackishness truly win out and silence the sticky sweetness. The flavor is orange marmalade, bitter orange peel, pith, a touch of OJ, bitter ‘herbs,’ a touch of medicine, and slight lemon that gives way to nettles, medicinal bitters, and a touch of something sulfury (perhaps DMS). As it warms I start to get a little more Sulfur stench on the nose, too. In the mouth, the beer is creamy, and on the light side of medium in body, with a mild carb and a great drinkability. The finish packs a good bitter bite, but it is a little bit lighter than other offerings in the style. I’m impressed by the “DIPA flavors” in the IPA, but the body is really where it loses its DIPA feel, as that is definitely thinner and more crushable than the flavor it carries. When the beer leaves the mouth is left sticky, with a good bit of spittle welling over the tongue in a sheen, while I smack my lips from the light bitter resonance in the finish. Overall, this is a good IPA trying to be a DIPA. The nose is superb, and very reminiscent of Heady, but the taste falls from that pinnacle a bit, and the sulfur at warmer temps is a little distracting. Still I could knock this back all night without complaints. Good hop juice, and an excellent beer to build a portfolio from. For science, I also drank it from the can, and I find the can’s tiny opening definitely concentrates the flavors a bit more and mellows out the off flavors. This is good stuff, though not God-Tier, I think this brewery is one to watch as they grow.