As more and more breweries open and expand distribution the shelves at a local bottle shop have a wider range of breweries, but often a more limited selection of beers from each. Many of the breweries introduce themselves to new markets with just one or two flagship beers and save their more limited edition beers for local consumers. Usually at least one of these flagship beers is an IPA variant, there are still many beer consumers who drink exclusively hoppy beers and/or judge an unfamiliar brewery based on the quality of their IPAs. This means that the majority of shelf space at any bottle shop is devoted to hoppy beers. While I love IPAs I get a little burned out on hop-bombs from time to time, and it would be nice to see more variety. It is especially disappointing when you look on a breweries website and see a range of creative styles, but only see their IPA on the shelves. A recent example is Hidden Cove brewery out of Wells, ME. While I have seen Hidden Cove pop up at a number of bars and bottles shops in MA, it is usually their flagship IPA and Castoff, their session IPA. Their website lists a number of interesting barrel aged beers that I would definitely be interested in sampling but haven’t seen in MA. I enjoyed their standard IPA on draft and recently picked up Castoff in bottles. Castoff is brewed with Cascade, Chinook and Lemon Drop hops and is available year round on draft and in 12 oz. bottles.
(I apologize for the picture, I took a pic with the full glass but had an issue with my phone, by the time I realized the issue I had finished the beer!) Hidden Cove Castoff pours a hazy light orange with a solid white head. The scent is all hops, aromas of citrus fruit and pine. The taste is also very hop forward, notes of lemon, resin, cut grass and grapefruit accompanied by a clean bitterness that doesn’t overpower. The malt flavors are mild, just a hint of crackers and white bread, it is obvious from the first sip that this is a lighter beer. The finish is crisp and clean with a mild lingering hoppy aftertaste, and at 4.5% ABV you can easily have a few of these in a session. Hidden Cove Castoff is just what you would expect, easy to drink with plenty of hop flavor, hopefully they do well in MA and we start to see some of their more creative beers make their way south. Hoppy Boston score: 4.0/5.