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 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 Equinox, Kent Falls Farmer’s Table, Kent Falls Field Beer Saison #3
Most breweries tend to stick to a rotation of classic styles for their flagship beers, usually an IPA (or a couple), a dark beer like a porter or a stout, and a lighter offering like a blond ale or a pilsner. These are tried and true styles and it makes sense to introduce the brewery to your customers with beers they will easily identify with. Things start to get interesting and more diverse when you get into seasonal and special release beers, especially when breweries establish a barrel aging program. Banded Horn Brewery came out of the gate with the IPA/DIPA combo you would expect, along with some seasonal dark beers, but they also make a line of flavorful lighter lagers. I’ve enjoyed the Banded Horn beers that I’ve tried, but I was excited to see some of their more creative offerings too. One beer that falls into that category is Vertumnus a version of their flagship Veridian IPA aged in oak barrels with Brettanomyces. Banded Horn Vertumnus is available on a rotating basis in 375 mL bottles.
Banded Horn Vertumnus pours a deep brownish orange with a solid white head. The scent is a mixture of musty Brettanomyces and floral hops. The yeast leads the flavor, notes of barnyard and cheese rind, funky but not sour. There is some hop flavor too, hints of lemon, grass and herbs along with a drying bitterness. The malts round out the flavor with touches of bread dough and biscuits. Vertumnus is light bodied and complex, but not too boozy at 6.0% ABV. The finish is dry with some lingering funky Brett flavors. I like the idea of aging Banded Horn’s flagship IPA with Brett. As more drinkers gain an appreciation for Brett beers it will be interesting to see if more breweries make similar offerings. Hoppy Boston score: 4.0/5.
Previous Banded Horn Reviews:
Banded Horn Norweald Stout
I rarely make it to the grand openings of breweries, usually by the time I can make the trip a brewery has been in operation for a little while. In fact, my life has been so crazy that there are a number of places that have been on my must-visit-soon list for way too many months. I was able to make a glorious exception to this last week with a visit to Lamplighter Brewing Company less than a week after they first opened their door. It is a huge help that Lamplighter’s new space near Kendall Square in Cambridge is right down the road from my new job. The brewery is currently one big open room with equipment in the back, a counter for filling growlers and buying merchandise, and a small bar for tasting (Lamplighter currently just pours free tasting samples, they are working on getting the proper licenses to sell beer for consumption on the premises). I had to do a quick in and out, but I came away with some new glassware and a couple half growlers, one filled with Lucid Nonsense IPA and another with Easy Tiger Brett IPA. Both were very good, and I highly recommend checking out Lamplighter the next time you make a trip into Cambridge!
Lamplighter Lucid Nonsense pours a deep hazy orange with a solid white head. The scent is a big burst of hops, citrus and pine. The flavor is also very hop forward, notes of grapefruit, resin and tangerine along with a solid bitter bite. There is enough malt for balance, touches of bread crust and honey. Lucid Nonsense is medium bodied and drinks easy but packs a little punch at 7.1% ABV. The finish is crisp with some lingering hop flavor and bite. Lucid Nonsense is kind of a hybrid between the juicy east coast IPAs and the more bitter/piney west coast versions. It is a very good beer, a strong addition to the stable of delicious IPAs being brewed in Massachusetts. Hoppy Boston score: 4.5/5.
Lamplighter Easy Tiger pours a hazy gold with a small white head. The scent is a mixture of funky yeast and fruity hops. The hops lead the flavor, notes of melon, orange and papaya along with mild bitterness. The yeast adds complexity, fruity esters and the distinct barnyard flavor imparted by the Brettanomyces yeast strain. The malts round out the flavors with hints of white bread and crackers. Easy Tiger is medium bodied and drinks very easy, with moderate alcohol at 6.8% ABV. The finish is crisp and dry with some lingering flavors of hops and funky yeast. It is nice to see that Lamplighter is not afraid to experiment with some different flavors, coming right out of the gate with a very well done Brett IPA. Hoppy Boston score: 4.25/5.