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Beer Review: Bay State Brewing Co’s Becky Likes the Smell

Hello,

I can’t stay away from IPAs. There was a time when I did not like IPAs at all, but, because I’m stubborn, I kept drinking them, over and over again. Now I kind of like them.

I really don’t know how I feel about the name of this one: Becky Likes the Smell.

I dig what they’re referring to, as the can promo woman is holding a hop (one hop?) in her hand, but man, I dunno.

The IPA does smell good. Smells like a fruitier IPA. Sweeter, maybe.

Love the can art.

No credit for the can art though. Not sure how I feel about, Bay State Brewing Co..

Anyway, it’s late and I need to write this blog entry and drink this beer.

And not sure how I feel about this one. I feel like the can over-promised on this one. Supposedly I can taste notes of: tropical fruit, pear, spice, melon, pine and citrus.

I feel like you’d be hard pressed NOT to taste pine and citrus in an IPA. That’s just what hops taste like.

It’s just a little empty, especially considering that this is a double IPA. I expect a little more oomph from a double IPA, and I don’t just mean with the alcohol. Other double IPAs really pack in the flavor, sometimes to an overwhelming degree.

I’d say that if you want a lighter, more refreshing double IPA, than this one is a good bet. Not too much backbite with the bitterness, but when they say subtle notes on the can, they mean subtle. It’s definitely not as sticky as some IPAs can get.

Feeling let down.

Great can art. Ok beer. Upsetting name.

Six robots that transform into cassette tapes out of eight.

-D-

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Beer Review: Collective Arts’ Life in the Clouds

Hello,

I decided to take another crack at a Collective Arts Brewing IPA tonight because I enjoyed last night’s so much. The initial smell is definitely not as intense as it was last night, but this is not a Double IPA.

I will say that IPAs are a devil of a thing to review because unless a company is actually trying to make a distinctive flavor, mostly all you get is the in-your-face flavor of hops. This one smells a little citrus.

The one last night reminded me a great deal of a Ballast Point IPA and I’m getting the same vibe here.

Oh and the art on the can is by Annabelle Popa. She does some pretty cool comics that you can read through her site as well.

Sorry, forgot about the beer for a moment.

It’s another solid IPA, but there’s nothing that particularly stands out to me about this one, unlike last night’s offering.

Again, it doesn’t aggressively overwhelm me with bitterness and again it’s very pleasant. There’s no point where I feel let down, where it’s too airy, or too light. It’s ticking the boxes for everything I want in an IPA.

I just realized I’m coming across as disappointed and there’s nothing to be disappointed about. I think this is a good IPA starter, if you’re not a huge fan of IPAs or you’ve never had one, you won’t go wrong trying this one. It’s still bitter, but it doesn’t linger like in some craft IPAs. It’s complex enough to not be boring, but not overly heavy and it has a decent kick, in terms of alcohol content.

I give it five IPAs out of four t-rex pepper shakers.

-D-

 

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Beer Review: Collective Arts’ IPA No. 8

Hello,

The first thing I have to say about this beer is that the moment I popped it open, all I smelled were hops. Keep in mind, I didn’t have my face right in the beer. My nose was a good two or three feet away from the can when I opened it.

Bam.

Hops.

And I mean, the actual physical hops. Like when you go on the Sam Adams brewery tour and they make you rub hops between your hands so your hands smell like hops for the rest of the day. Like that. Not hoppy or essence of hops.

Just. Hops.

I still haven’t even tried it. It’s..astonishing. I don’t even know if I want to try it.

I love their can art though. Is that a term? A real term? Can art? I prefer the art on Stranger than Fiction, their porter, but this just pops. According to Collective Arts’s website, they use their beer to promote artists and muscians, so that’s pretty cool.

Still haven’t tried it.

I waved the beer at my wife and she said it smells like a brewery floor.

It smells like its calmed down a bit, much more muted, more tame. Before it was a hops djinn that had been released from some thousand year slumber. Now it’s…an IPA.

Whoa, that’s pretty pleasant actually. Not aggressively bitter, it’s not one of those craft beers going for the IBUs. It’s…a really good, really solid IPA. It’s a little sweet, barely any back-of-the-throat bitterness biting at you.

Wow.

I don’t think I’ve had such a positive turnaround on a beer from beginning to end.

If you like IPAs, but you’re sick of some bearded, flannel wearer cramming bitterness down your throat like a craft beers are a contest to see who can get the highest IBUs, definitely try this out. Little sweet, very solid and a strong IPA.

I give it six happy, floaty clouds.

CORRECTION: It’s a double IPA, so at 8%, it might put you down, if you’re not used to that.

-D-

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Beer Review: Wormtown Brewery’s Sweet Tats

Hello Again,

So I have a weird relationship with porters and stouts.

A lot of the time, I’ll try, say, one of the many variations of Guinness and it’s…empty. There’s some flavor at the front and some bitterness at the back and there’s just nothing holding up in the middle.

But! With Imperial Stouts, there is something in the middle. There’s a little more oomph. Now, a lot of that is probably the higher alcohol content, but usually they’re richer, fuller and more flavorful and you’re drunker much faster.

And Wormtown Brewery‘s Sweet Tats is no exception.

Unlike a lot of imperial stouts I’ve had, which can be almost viscous and overpowering, Sweet Tats is less dense, less heavy, but still flavorful with a bit of a punch.

I will say that the label says it’s been flavored with coffee beans, cacao nibs and vanilla beans, but I’m not really picking any of those out. Sometimes I’ll hit a glimmer of coffee or maybe a hint of vanilla, but that’s about it.

However, if the alternative is aggressive vanilla flavor hitting me in the face like a wet sock soaked in vanilla extract, I think I’d rather have this. I swear to god, there are some brewery’s that don’t think people can taste something unless the beer is saturated with spice. I’m looking at you, Shipyard and your cinnamon obsession.

Anyway, if you want a lighter Imperial Stout that’s not too aggressive, but also isn’t like drinking bitter air, Sweet Tats is the way to go. It’s smooth, nice and doesn’t reek of vanilla beans.

I give it five out of five dinosaur pepper shakers.

Also, they have really nice glassware, so if you’re ever in Worcester go buy some. I think I’m using the “wrong” glass, but my one rule for glassware is: does it hold a pint of beer?

I don’t need to be told that I should use tulip glasses for IPAs or shot glasses for stouts or martini glasses for Coors Light.

-D-

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Spoooky Beer Review: Harpoon’s UFO Pumpkin

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Harpoon makes some of my favorite beers, from their UFO White to Leviathon, you’re generally going to get a solid, complex beer with a lot to offer. So I had high hopes when I picked up UFO Pumpkin.

And those hopes were resoundingly rewarded. This if the kind of pumpkin ale that I want to be drinking; when there’s more pumpkin than spices and I feel like I’m in the middle of Halloween instead of the middle of some over-saturated, over-spiced pumpkin pie being served up for someone’s Thanksgiving dinner.

It’s unfiltered, so it has a deep, cloudy orange, making it look heavier than it actually tastes. It’s a deep, rich orange. It’s a satisfying color, letting you know exactly what you’re in for.

There is cinnamon and spice up front, which gives way to a solid and hearty pumpkin flavor. Much like Pumpkinhead, it’s very crisp and ultimately very refreshing.

For day to day drinking, both Pumpkinhead and UFO Pumpkin are good beers. They both have a relatively low alcohol content and don’t overwhelm you with unnecessary flavor. It honestly depends on what you’re looking for in a pumpkin ale. If you’re looking for a more spice heavy beer, I’d go with Pumpkinhead. If you want something a little more pumpkiny (that’s a technical term), UFO Pumpkin should be your go-to this season.  The spices and the pumpkin flavoring go hand-in-hand.

For me, UFO Pumpkin is the way to go and I give it seven cheerful Jack O’ Lanterns and a scowling black cat.

-D-

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Spoooky Beer Review: Shipyard Brewing Co.’s Pumpkinhead

 I’m taking it upon myself to review as many Octoberfests and Pumpkin Ales as I possibly can during the Halloween Season. All while listening to “Thriller”.

In spite of the fact that I have now reviewed it twice on my blog, I am really not a huge fan of Shipyard’s Smashed Pumpkin. There is a LOT of flavor in there, but’s mostly spice, with the minute amounts of pumpkin being overwhelmed by cinnamon and nutmeg.

Now, you may be asking, why am I talking about Smashed Pumpkin for the third time? Well, because I have, somehow, never tried Shipyard’s main Halloween offering: Pumpkinhead Ale.  Smashed Pumpkin is a fancy beer that you can only purchase in those oversized pint-and-a-half bottles with a gold foil cover; Pumpkinhead is more like Smashed Pumpkin‘s little brother. It has a lower alcohol content and is sold in six packs and even in…cans.

It is a big seller round these parts and a symbol that Halloween is barreling down the highway like some lunatic truck.

And I have never reviewed it.

So I’m going to rectify that…right now.

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As far as pumpkin ales go, Pumpkinhead is a nice golden color. Not really that deep, orange I expect form pumpkin ales, but it’s rich and reminds me of Fall. And really, that’s all you can ask for in a Fall themed beer.

The first thing I notice when I poke my nose in the glass is cinnamon. Lots and lots of cinnamon. And maybe nutmeg. And I know that I’m not going to be thrilled. It’s a sweet and heavily spiced aroma that promises little in the way of pumpkins and a lot in the way of spice.

And drinking confirms it.

It’s more spice than pumpkin, much like with Smashed Pumpkin. However, unlike Smashed Pumpkin, it’s much lighter: lighter flavor and lighter alcohol content. It’s more refreshing and less overwhelming. Smashed Pumpkin can put you on your ass and leave you there gagging on spices. Pumpkinhead is gentler and a better beer for it, though still not quite what I’m looking for in a pumpkin beer.

It’s the perfect middle-of-the-week beer. You need something to remind you that Halloween is coming and forget the eight hours of work you just endured. You grab a Pumpkinhead. You don’t swirl it in your pilsner glass and comment on the aromas, like some asshole with a blog. You sit on the couch, turn on a baseball game and wonder what in God’s name happened to the Red Sox this season and let Pumpkinhead take you away.

I give it a handful of cinnamon sticks. And a ginger root. Because I bought a ginger root a few weeks ago thinking that Emily and I were going to make dumplings, but that didn’t really happen and now it’s getting a little shriveled.

-D-

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Beer Review: Samuel Adams Third Voyage

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For a long time, I had a love/hate relationship with IPAs. They were too bitter, too strong tasting, too hoppy. Now I feel like I could go the rest of my life never drinking anything else. So when I saw a new Sam Adams Double IPA, (Third Voyage) I ran and grabbed my specially designed, high tech Sam Adams guzzlin’ glass and filled it to the brim with hoppy.

And I’m underwhelmed. I’m never happy with an ordinary IPA. I want to be sandblasted with flavor. I want to have trouble finishing the whole glass because the flavor is punching me in the uvula with a ferocity that could only be equaled by Jake LaMotta roid ragin’. I want my taste buds to be knocked out so hard that the only thing they’ll be able to handle is watered down PBR.

The problem with Third Voyage is that it’s too….nice. There’s no bold flavor at the front and there’s no bold flavor at the back. It’s smooth, almost downright mellow and it’s ticking me off. It hits all the right notes, but not with the right intensity. It has a sharp bark, but no bite. It has that bitter finisher, but not that throat puckering grab that some IPAs have.

It’s a perfectly good Double IPA, sweet and grapey and strong, but it’s just not the IPA for me. I recommend it if you’re not into ultra-hoppy IPAs like Harpoon’s Rye Ipa.

I give it half a hop and a skip.

-D-

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