Love them or hate them, it looks like New England style IPAs are going to be a huge part of the local beer scene for the foreseeable future. It seems like nearly every brewery in the area is taking advantage of the popularity of this sub-style, brewing their own versions of these murky, low-bitterness hop bombs (and typically packaging them in 16 oz. tallboy cans). It amazes me how much this bothers some outspoken beer drinkers on social media, there is a subset that hate the style and express that opinion vociferously and repeatedly. I am not one of these people, in fact I love the New England IPA style and if other people don’t want them it just means more for me. One new NEIPA I recently sampled is Thunderlips from Big Elm Brewing Company in Sheffield, MA. Big Elm Thunderlips is brewed with Amarillo and Rakau hops and is available now on draft and in 16 oz. tallboy cans.
Big Elm Thunderlips pours a murky dark yellow with a solid white head. The aroma is mildly hoppy, some fruit and floral scents. The flavor packs a little more hop punch, touches of cantaloupe, pear, grass and lime along with a mild bitterness. This is balanced by some malt, hints of bread crust and crackers. Thunderlips is light in body and smooth drinking, not overly boozy at 6.0% ABV. The finish is dry with some lingering hop flavor. Big Elm Thunderlips is a solid take on a New England IPA, I would have liked more hop aroma personally, but it’s flavorful and easy to drink. Hoppy Boston score: 4.0/5.
Previous Big Elm Reviews:
Big Elm Transformer IPL, Big Elm 413 Farmhouse Ale
Today might have been raw and chilly (and we did get some snow on Monday), but there are clear signs that we are moving into spring and warmer weather is on the way. As the temperatures start to rise I will also be transitioning my beer fridge from dark and heavy porters and stouts to lighter, more refreshing fare. Over the last couple years I have developed a taste for well crafted lagers, especially examples with solid doses of hops. The crisp and clean lager profile is the perfect showcase for the fruity and diverse flavors of American hop varieties. I am hoping that more breweries will venture into the lager space as they grow, there are many interesting traditional and new styles to explore. One brewery that mixes lager styles in with their staple ales is Big Elm Brewing in Sheffield, MA. One of Big Elm’s newer releases is Transformer, an “India Pale Lager” that uses a different blend of hops for each release. Big Elm Transformer is available on a rotating basis on draft and in 16 oz. tallboy cans.
Big Elm Transformer IPL pours a clear golden yellow with a massive white head. The scent is solidly hoppy, mostly the citrus and tropical fruit aromas you expect from popular New World hop varieties. The flavor is also hop forward, notes of stone fruit, tangerine, lemon and white grape along with a mild bitterness. The hops are balanced by a pale malt backbone, touches of toast and biscuits. Transformer is a light bodied, clean lager that is crushable at 5% ABV. The finish is crisp with just a hint of hoppy aftertaste. Big Elm Transformer IPL is just what you look for in a hoppy lager, big hop flavor and drinkability. I’ll probably go through a few of these on my porch this summer. Hoppy Boston score: 4.0/5.
Previous Big Elm Reviews:
Big Elm 413 Farmhouse Ale
The roots of Big Elm Brewing Company started when husband and wife team, Bill and Christine, met while working at Victory Brewing Company in PA. From there they moved to MA and opened their own brewpub, Pittsfield Brew Works. While they loved the brewing part of the business, the restaurant wasn’t really a fit. Although they initially had some issues finding a location, Big Elm Brewery opened in 2011 in Sheffield, MA. One of Big Elm’s flagship beers is 413 Farmhouse Ale. This Belgian style saison is brewed with barley wheat malt and locally sourced honey, along with chamomile, lemon zest and pink peppercorns. All of Big Elms beers are available in 12 oz cans, 22 oz bottles and on draft.
Big Elm 413 Farmhouse Ale pours a clear bright orange with a mild white head. The smell is dominated by the Belgian yeast, very spicy with some floral notes. There is a little mild malt character in the scent as well. The malts come through stronger in the taste, with bready, grainy, biscuit and whole wheat flavors along with a touch of sweetness. The yeast is also present, with significant spiciness and pepper followed by a little clove, green apple and banana. Big Elm 413 Farmhouse Ale is light and easy to drink, I was a little surprised it was 6% ABV. The finish leaves a little spice and sweetness on the tongue. Overall this is a solid and easy to drink version on a saison, good for the beach or a BBQ. Hoppy Boston score: 3.75/5.