Backlash brewing has gone through a number of big changes in the last year plus. Like many brewers they have moved their packaging strategy away from 22 oz. bottles and towards cans. Co-founder Helder Pimentel has been outspoken about the death of large format bottles, customers seem to prefer 4/6/12 packs and breweries that relied on bombers have needed to adapt. The need to change to cans has led Backlash on an odyssey to find a new place to brew, they don’t have their own production facility and many breweries that used to share time with contract brewers have stopped taking on contracts due to increased demand for their own products. You might have noticed a period where Backlash’s flagship beers were hard to find in bottle shops, and this was the reason why. Finally, Backlash abandoned their best selling beer, Belgian style IPA Declaration, in favor of Ricochet, a West Coast style IPA. Ricochet went through a number of draft-only test batches to perfect the recipe, but you can now find it in 4 packs of 16 oz. tallboy cans. It is good to see Backlash beers back on store shelves, and I look forward to seeing what is in store for the brewery next!
Backlash Ricochet pours a hazy golden yellow with a substantial off-white head. The scent is solidly hoppy, citrus fruit and resin. The taste is also very hop-forward, notes of grapefruit, pine, tangerine and papaya along with a soft bitterness. There is just enough malt for balance, touches of bread dough and biscuits. Ricochet is light bodied and very easy to drink but packs a little punch at 7.2% ABV. The finish is crisp and clean with some lingering hop flavor. I really enjoyed Ricochet, there are so many good IPAs being brewed locally and this holds up to the high standards. I am glad they took their time and got the beer right, local IPA fans should definitely give Backlash Ricochet a shot! Hoppy Boston score: 4.5/5.
Previous Backlash Reviews:
Backlash Muerte, Backlash Oath, Backlash Convergence, Backlash Chaos, Backlash Redux
This week has seen some true winter weather which means we are fully into porter and stout season. When you ask beer lovers the dominant flavors they taste in a porter or a stout the most common answers will probably be some variations of coffee and chocolate. Brewers are now brewing unique variations of these dark styles that take advantage of these roasted malt flavors. Many stouts are brewed with added coffee or chocolate, or complementary flavors like vanilla. One sub-set of stouts that is gaining in popularity is based on Mexican hot chocolate, a drink that mixes sweet and bitter chocolate with some sort of spicy element. A local example of this style is Muerte, a recent release from Backlash Brewing Company. Muerte starts with the same base as Backlash’s popular imperial stout Death but adds Madagascar vanilla beans, cinnamon sticks, Scotch bonnet peppers and cold brewed coffee. Backlash Muerte is available for a limited time on draft and in 22 oz. bombers.
Backlash Muerte pours pitch black with a mild tan head. The scent is a mixture of roasted malt, vanilla, coffee and a little alcohol. The flavor is malt forward, notes of roasted barley, cappuccino, dark chocolate and some boozy sweetness. The adjunct ingredients all come through at various levels. The coffee is pretty strong, the vanilla is well represented and the cinnamon is mild. The Scotch Bonnet peppers add some pepper flavor, and then a little spicy heat as the beer warms. Muerte is a full bodied sipper, it weighs in at 10.5% ABV and you know you are drinking a big beer. The finish leaves a little dark malt, bitter coffee and heat from the peppers and the booze. This is a complex and interesting beer, definitely brewed for the more adventurous drinkers out there. Hoppy Boston score: 4.0/5.
Previous Backlash Reviews:
Backlash Oath, Backlash Convergence, Backlash Chaos, Backlash Redux
Fall is my favorite season of the year, the start to feel a crispness in the air, cook and eat some hearty food, watch football on TV every weekend, maybe even catch some playoff baseball when the Red Sox decide to field a competitive team. This weekend felt like the real start of fall, I had a slab of pork in the slow cooker and watched more NFL football than I want to admit. While some people made a full transition to Octoberfest and pumpkin beers the minute the calendar hit September (or even before), we still have some days ahead that will feel more like summer than fall. We are supposed to crack 80 in Boston every day for the rest of this week, not exactly weather than screams for rich malty beers. We have plenty of cold months ahead, no need to rush into dark beer season. This is one of the reasons why seasonal creep bothers me so much, I want to continue enjoying summery beers until it really starts to get cold. Backlash had this in mind with their latest release, a late-summer saison named Oath. Backlash Oath is a sessionable saison brewed with two strains of yeast, substantial Citra and Sorachi Ace hops along with toasted peppercorns and kaffir lime. It is available for a limited time on draft and in 22 oz. bottles.
Backlash Oath pours a hazy straw yellow with a minimal white head. The scent is a mixture of pungent fruity hops and some spicy yeast. The yeast leads the flavor, notes of pepper, apple and pear. The beer also packs substantial hop flavor, notes of lemon, honeydew, grass and mango. The peppercorns and lime are both present but subtle, nicely complementing the spicy yeast and citrusy hops. The malts are mild here but add a little backbone and some whole grain cracker flavor. Oath is extremely light bodied and easy to drink, at 5% ABV it fits some definitions of a session beer. The finish is crisp with just a touch of estery yeast and hops in the aftertaste. Backlash Oath is a perfect beer for the last warm days of the year, light and crushable but full flavored and complex. Hoppy Boston score: 4.25/5.
Previous Backlash Reviews:
Backlash Convergence, Backlash Chaos, Backlash Redux
This is the final beer review for my Spring of Saisons, which is fitting since the first day of summer is right around the corner. I have a special idea for a recap piece that I will publish tomorrow. It has been a lot of fun to focus on a single beer style for a few months. This is especially true with the saison style! There is so much room for interpretation in saisons and it is amazing the diverse array of colors, smells and flavors in the beers I’ve tasted. My final review is of Convergence, the “Super Saison” brewed by Backlash Brewing Company. Convergence is brewed with a large portion of rye along with house made Belgian Candi sugar. It is available year round on draft and in 22 oz. bottles.
Backlash Convergence pours a golden yellow, slightly cloudy with a massive white head. The smell is pretty mild but complex, with esters and spice from the yeast and some citrusy hops. The yeast comes through strongly in the flavor, apple, clove, bubblegum and a touch of must. There are also some distinct notes from the hops which contribute pine and a little orange. The malts balance the flavor, with some bread and cracker taste along with the distinct spicy flavor of the rye. The beer is light bodied and easy to drink but still very full flavored. The solid 7.0% ABV leaves just a hint of warming alcohol in the aftertaste. The finish is very dry, with a touch of fruit and hop bitterness lingering on the tongue. Overall this is a very solid version of a saison, full flavored but drinkable. Hoppy Boston score: 4.25/5.
Previous Backlash reviews:
Backlash Chaos, Backlash Redux
Today I’m talking a little break from my streak of saisons and reviewing a double IPA. Backlash Brewing company has made a name for themselves with bold beers and big attitude, along with one of the most bad-ass logos in local craft beer. In addition to their arsenal of year-round releases, they brew runs of one-off beers that follow specific themes. They recently finished a set of beers named after the four horsemen of the apocalypse, using four different styles to represent the different horsemen. Backlash has also relased the Uprising! series, a sequence of double IPAs brewed with different recipes that showcase blends of American hops. Uprising was initially going to have three beers, but after brewing Catalyst, Outbreak and Riot to rave reviews Backlash decided on one more beer. The fourth Uprising beer is a double IPA brewed with Citra, Simcoe, Amarillo, Mosaic and Galaxy hops and named Chaos. Backlash Chaos is a limited release in 22 oz bottles and on draft.
Backlash Chaos pours a clear amber tinted gold with a mild white head that leaves nice lacing on the glass. The smell is a huge burst of pungent American hops, strong scents of citrus and resin with a little tropical fruit mixed in. The taste also starts with the hops, bold notes of grapefruit, lemon, pine, peach and guava. The hop flavor is balanced by a solid malt backbone that contributes touches of grain and caramel to the flavor. The beer is pretty easy to drink for a double IPA, there is some bitterness but it’s not overly strong. That being said, this isn’t a light beer at 8.5% ABV. The finish is quite clean with a little lingering hop bite on the tongue. Overall this is a flavorful and drinkable DIPA showcasing the great qualities of American hops. Hoppy Boston score: 4.25/5.
Previous Backlash Reviews:
Backlash beer was founded by avid homebrewer Helder and his partner-in-crime and inspiration Maggie (along with their bulldog Stout) in 2011. They are a contract brewery operating out of Paper City Brewery in Holyoke. You can find their Belgian ales and double IPAs in 22 oz. bottles and on draft throughout Massachusetts. The beers combine straight forward and tasty ingredients with interesting names like Groundswell, Declaration and Convergence, along with a series of beers named after the four horseman of the apocalypse. They are worth a follow on Twitter (@Backlashbeer), the account is full of information on their beer, along with good links such as a recent rant against misogyny in the craft beer world (check it out at: http://backlashbeer.com/youre-probably-wrong/). Backlash Redux is a Belgian pale ale that is actually the original recipe for their popular year-round brew Groundswell which now enjoys an altered recipe. As a homebrewer who constantly tinkers with recipes, I imagine it is difficult for a brewery to balance the urge to try and improve established recipes with the expectations of their customers who have become attached to the beers.
Backlash Redux pours a clear deep gold with a sustained white head. The smell is dominated by the Belgian style yeast with notes of clove, apple and a little must. Along with the yeast you get some solid hops with grassy and spicy scents. The taste starts with the yeast, fruity esters and some spice. Substantial hop bitterness adds some pine and citrus flavors which are well balanced by a solid supporting malt backbone. The beer is light, bubbly and easy to drink. At 6.0% ABV it’s a full beer, but light compared to many of the other Backlash offerings. One of the best features of lighter bodied Belgian ales is their paring with food. This beer was great with my pizza the other night and would also pair well with dishes that feature apple or citrus flavors. I really enjoyed Redux (the old Groundswell recipe) and I’ll be sure to pick up some of the new Groundswell for comparison. Hoppy Boston score: 4.5/5.