Category Archives: Beer Review

Backlash Citra Salute

Backlash Brewing Company is in the middle of a very eventful stretch. First they ditched the large format bottles in favor of canning the majority of their beers, aligning with the industry trend (and the preference of the majority of consumers). Then they announced that they are building their own brewery and taproom, slated to open by the end of the year in Roxbury. In the last week they revealed a re-working of the brand, including a new logo (check it out on their website HERE). I always liked the brass knuckles, but have to admit that the new logo looks great too, I can’t wait to pick up some logo glassware. While work on the taproom continues to move forward Backlash is releasing a number of new beers, many of which sell out incredibly quickly. I was sad to miss Allston, a tribute to the neighborhood where I lived for 5 years, but I was happy to find some of their DIPA Citra Salute. Backlash Citra Salute is available on a rotating basis on draft and in 16 oz. cans.

Backlash Citra SaluteBacklash Citra Salute pours hazy orange with a solid white head. The aroma is a solid burst of hops, heavy on the citrus fruit. The flavor is also very hop forward, notes of grapefruit, orange and lemon rind along with a solid bitter bite. There is also some noticeable malt, touches of whole grain bread, honey and just a hint of booze. You know this is a double IPA from the first sip, between the malt/alcohol and the full body, and the 8% ABV backs that up. The finish is crisp with some lingering hop flavor. I really enjoyed Citra Salute, and it will be really nice to see Backlash beers start to make a more regular appearance on shelves! Hoppy Boston score: 4.25/5.

Previous Backlash Reviews:

Backlash Ricochet, Backlash MuerteBacklash OathBacklash ConvergenceBacklash Chaos, Backlash Redux

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Springdale Desert Solitaire and Really Though

Some times it feels like Sudbury, the town I live in, is going to become the only town in Massachusetts that doesn’t have a brewery. I know that is a huge exaggeration, but so many new breweries have opened and I haven’t even heard a hint of one in my town. Silly me for prizing my children’s education over immediate access to beer. Fortunately there are a number of great options in neighboring towns, so I get to decide which brewery I’d like to make my local. In some ways this is a better situation, it would be terrible to have a brewery open up in town and make crappy beer, now I can pick a place I know I enjoy. Right now the leader in the clubhouse is Springdale Brewing in Framingham. I guess I could cheat and say Jack’s Abby and Springdale, but I consider them separate places (I love both, but I can get Jack’s Abby beers everywhere, need to hit the brewery for the Springdale stuff). Springdale makes awesome beer, has a great space, cans and bottles everything (I hate growlers), minimal lines, and I need to run specific errands in Framingham on a regular basis so I have a built in excuse to be in the area. That is basically everything I am looking for in a local brewery. On a recent trip I grabbed a number of offerings including Desert Solitaire, a wild ale brewed with wheat, rye and spelt and aged in oak, and Really Though, a double IPA brewed with Citra, Mosaic and Columbus hops.

Springdale Desert SolitaireSpringdale Desert Solitaire pours clear straw yellow with a minimal white head. The scent is all from the fermentation, some funk and acidity. The flavors imparted by the wild yeast and barrel aging lead the way too, notes of green apple, lemon, sour cherry, white grape and oak. There is a bit of tartness too, but it isn’t overpowering. The malts add a solid backbone, whole wheat bread and the distinct spicy flavor imparted by rye. Desert Solitaire is light and easy to drink, not too boozy at 6.5% ABV. The finish is dry with some lingering yeast and acid. This is a delicious wild ale, lots of flavor from the fermentation and I love the rye addition to the malt bill, it really complements the tartness. Hoppy Boston score: 4.5/5.

Springdale Really ThoughSpringdale Really Though pours murky yellow-orange with a small white head. The scent is a solid hit of fruity hops with a floral undertone. The flavor is hop forward, notes of pineapple, mango, tangerine, resin along with a bit of bitterness. This is complemented by a solid malt backbone, hints of cereal and bread crust. Really Though is full bodied but drinks super easy for 8.5% ABV. The finish is crisp with some lingering hops. This is a very good DIPA, I have yet to have a bad beer from Springdale, happy to adopt it as my local brewery. Hoppy Boston score: 4.25/5.

Previous Springdale Reviews:

Springdale Solid State and Kreik MythologySpringdale Amirite?! and Good N’ You?

Aeronaut Double Hop Hop

As my frequent readers know, I hate waiting in line for beer. There are a few local breweries that make amazing beers but I never travel to because the combination of  long lines and can limits kill my excitement to make the trek. That being said, there are a large number of beer geeks who seem to have no problem standing in lines, and quickly line up for any beer release that excites them. Some breweries have heard the complaints about the lines from loyal cutomers and have decided on alternate strategies for limited release beers. Aeronaut Brewing has come up with a great way to sell their most recent batch of Double Hop Hop, their sought after DIPA. Instead of sharing a release date/time on social media and asking people to wait in line, they allowed customers to purchase a ticket online ahead of time, and then trade in the ticket for a 4 pack of cans once the beer is ready. From what I heard the release was easy, even people who stopped by on day one were in and out with their beer. Fortunately for me Aeronaut sent along a sample along with a special glass, which I was very excited to use. Aeronaut Double Hop Hop is loaded with Citra and Mosaic hops and available on a limited basis in 16 oz tallboy cans.

Aeronaut Double Hop HopAeronaut Double Hop Hop pours murky orange with a small white head. The aroma features a nice burst of hops, mostly citrus with an undercurrent of floral aromas. The hops also dominate the flavor, notes of grapefruit, papaya, tangerine and a little pine. The floral/pine notes along with a soft but persistent bitterness keep the beer from being straight juicy NEIPA, but it checks most of the boxes you look for in the style. The hops are balanced by a full malt backbone, hints of bread dough and cereal. Double Hop Hop has a full mouthfeel but drinks very easy for 8.4% ABV. The finish is crisp with some lingering hop flavor and just a little bitterness. This beer is stellar, enough fruity flavor and aroma for the most passionate of juice-heads but the other flavors add needed complexity. I really enjoyed Double Hop Hop and would happily (not) wait in line for the next batch!

Previous Aeronaut Reviews:

Aeronaut Robot Crush, Aeronaut A Year With Dr. NanduAeronaut A Session With Dr. NanduAeronaut The Eye of Sauvin

Mason’s Hipster Apocalypse and Liquid Rapture

There are so many breweries in New England (let alone the rest of the country) that I have a really hard time keeping track of all of them. It’s especially difficult with breweries that don’t distribute to Massachusetts bottle shops, there are a number breweries in every state that I haven’t been able to try due to brewery location and lack of distribution. Occasionally I stop by one of my local shops for a stock up run and see new-to-me beers by a local/regional brewery that I’ve never tried, and I usually jump at the opportunity. A good example is Mason’s Brewing Company out of Brewer, Maine. I can’t remember the last time I was in Brewer, so I’ve never been to their brewpub, but I grabbed a few cans after a recommendation from an employee at Craft Beer Cellar in Framingham. The beers were Hipster Apocalypse, an IPA brewed with Idaho 7 hops, and Liquid Rapture, a DIPA with Ella, Idaho 7 and Citra hops. Both beers are available in 16 oz. tallboy cans.

Mason's Hipster ApocalypseMason’s Hipster Apocalypse pours a slightly hazy light orange with a solid white head. The scent features some fruity hops, citrus and tropical fruit. The flavor is very hop forward, notes of honeydew, guava and grapefruit along with a soft bitterness, this is clearly a New England style IPA. A mild malt backbone rounds out the flavor with hints of cereal and honey. Hipster Apocalypse is medium bodied, super drinkable, and not too boozy at 5.7% ABV. The finish is slightly sweet with some lingering fruity hops. I enjoyed Hipster Apocalypse, it’s a flavorful and well crafted juicy IPA. Hoppy Boston score: 4.25/5.

Mason's Liquid RaptureMason’s  Liquid Rapture pours a hazy straw yellow with a solid white head. The aroma is a big hit of fruity new world hops. This carries over into the flavor, notes of grapefruit, tangerine, guava and lemon. There is a touch of bitterness here, not bracing  but it doesn’t taste like you’re drinking straight fruit juice either. This is balanced by a noticeable malt backbone, hints of honey, bread crust and just a whiff of booze. Liquid Rapture is medium bodied and drinks very easy for 8.2% ABV. The finish is crisp with some lingering hop flavor. Liquid Rapture is a very good DIPA, all of the hop flavor you want with a little bite and malt for balance. Hoppy Boston score: 4.5/5.

Funky Bow So Folkin Hoppy

I am officially on a short vacation, tomorrow I am headed up to Maine for a long weekend. The major purpose of this trip is to visit family, the little man is very excited to  spend some time with my family on the lake. That being said, I am hoping to squeeze in a little beer-related fun on the trip, maybe a stop at a brewery or two, and definitely grabbing some Maine beers to enjoy on the trip. There are a number of Maine breweries that are on my “need-to-try” list, fortunately some of them are now distributing in Massachusetts. One good example is Funky Bow Brewing out of Lyman, Maine. I’ve heard some good things about Funky Bow, but it’s one of the places that I’ve never had a chance to visit, so I was excited to see some of their beer make the trek south. One beer I tried recently was So Folkin Hoppy, their flagship IPA brewed with Galaxy hops. Funky Bow So Folkin Hoppy is available year round on draft and in 12 oz cans.

Funky Bow So Folkin HoppyFunky Bow So Folkin Hoppy pours a slightly hazy deep orange with a solid off white head. The aroma features plenty of hops, floral and grassy. The hops also lead the flavor, notes of pine, lemon and grapefruit along with a solid bitter bite. This is complemented by substantial malt flavor, hints of caramel and whole grain bread. So Folkin Hoppy is medium bodied, smooth and moderately boozy at 6.5% ABV. The finish is crisp with some lingering hop flavor and bite. Overall this is a solid old-school American IPA, a nice way to mix it up from the juicy IPAs that are so popular now. Hoppy Boston score: 4.0/5.

Kent Falls Juice Maker Mango

Within the last couple years a couple sub-styles of IPA started to gain traction amongst beer drinkers and brewers. One sub-style is the Brett IPA, hop-forward ales fermented with funky Brettanomyces strains of yeast. Another is the myriad of fruited IPAs, which were popularized with the introduction of Ballast Point’s Grapefruit Sculpin. I love Brett IPAs when they are done correctly, but it is really important to have the right mixture of hops to complement the yeast instead of clash with it. I have mixed opinions of fruited IPAs, I’ve had a few that are stellar but many seem like a cheap way to add fruity hop flavor to a beer instead of adding more hops, and in a few the fruit flavor overwhelms everything else. While I’ve tried many beers from each of these individual sub styles, I am pretty sure that Kent Falls Juice Maker Mango is the first fruited Brett IPA that I’ve sampled. Juice Maker is actually a series of Brett IPAs, each brewed with a different type of fruit. Kent Falls Juice Maker is available on a rotating basis on draft and in 500 mL bottles.

Kent Falls Juice Maker MangoKent Falls Juice Maker Mango pours a murky light yellow with a massive white head. The scent is mostly the Brettanomyces along with some fruity hops. The yeast leads the flavor with funky and spicy notes. This is complemented by the hops, with hints of lemon, grass and orange. I don’t get much mango in the flavor or the aroma, not sure if it’s just being drowned out by the other flavors. A light malt backbone rounds out the flavors with touches of crackers and cereal. Juice Maker is light and quaffable, not too boozy at 5.6% ABV. The finish is dry with a little lingering hops and funk. I enjoyed this beer as a Brett IPA, but with a name like Juice Maker I expected a little more fruit flavor and aroma. Still, another solid addition to the Kent Falls roster. Hoppy Boston score: 4.0/5.

Previous Kent Falls Reviews:

Kent Falls Alternate World, Kent Falls EquinoxKent Falls Farmer’s TableKent Falls Field Beer Saison #3

 

Foundation Cosmic Bloom

When you ask a beer nerd to name the best breweries in Maine there are a few that will inevitably come up. Hopheads will immediately cite Maine Beer Company and Bissell Brothers, while fans of Belgian styles would point to Allagash and Oxbow. There are many others that would also be mentioned, it’s an incredibly vibrant scene is my home state. One brewery that as crept up my list of favorite Maine breweries in recent visits is Foundation Brewing Company in Portland. Their expanded brewery in Portland is a must visit, especially on a nice day when the fun spills out onto their expansive patio. Unlike some other popular breweries, Foundation also distributes their beer, mostly in Maine but it has now made appearances in Massachusetts too. Foundation’s most popular beer is definitely their stellar DIPA Epiphany, but they feature a strong lineup of diverse offerings. I recently sampled a relatively new addition to their lineup, an American pale ale named Cosmic Bloom. Foundation Cosmic Bloom is brewed with five types of hops and is available on draft and in 16 oz cans.

Foundation Cosmic BloomFoundation Cosmic Bloom pours hazy light yellow with a solid white head. The scent is a big burst of fruity hops, tropical, citrus and berries. The flavor is also very hop forward with a unique new-age flavor profile that includes notes of melon, strawberry and tangerine. There is a little bitter bite, not bracing but this isn’t a straight jooce-bomb NEIPA either. The hops are complimented by a mild malt backbone, hints of white bread and cereal. Cosmic Bloom is light and easy to drink, not too boozy at 5.8% ABV.  The finish is crisp with some lingering hop flavor. This beer is delicious, well crafted with tons of flavor and a little different than other hoppy beers. Cosmic Bloom is now neck-in-neck with Epiphany for my favorite Foundation beer. Hoppy Boston score: 4.75/5.

Previous Foundation Reviews:

Foundation VentureFoundation Afterglow, Foundation WanderlustFoundation Epiphany