Tag Archives: Double IPA

Fort Hill Jigsaw Jazz

It seems like tap rooms are all of the rage right now and for good reason, including the fact that brewers can sell their product directly to consumers which allows for more control of quality, freshness and margins. It almost seems like a few local breweries have no interest in canning or bottling beer outside of what they are selling in the taprooms. There are advantages to distribution too, especially in reaching new customers who haven’t heard of your brand or don’t have time to travel to taprooms every weekend. There are a number of examples where a brewery gains significant buzz after they start distribution. A good local case is Fort Hill Brewing in Easthampton, MA. Fort Hill has been open since 2014, but over the last year cans of their beers have entered bottle shops on a regular basis and demand has followed. It’s probably no coincidence that their taproom is currently closed while they undergo an expansion. One of Fort Hill’s most popular beers is Jigsaw Jazz, a big DIPA brewed with Citra hops. Fort Hill Jigsaw Jazz is available year-round on draft and in 12 oz. cans.

Fort Hill Jigsaw JazzFort Hill Jigsaw Jazz pours a very hazy light yellow with a massive white head. The scent is a huge hit of hops, citrus and tropical fruit. The flavor is very hop forward, notes of grapefruit, melon, tangerine and apricot with a little bitter bite. This is balanced by a light malt backbone, touches of bread crust and honey. Jigsaw Jazz is medium bodied and drinks incredibly easy for 9.3% ABV. The finish is crisp with some lingering hop flavor. This is a really good DIPA, loads of hops and dangerously drinkable. I understand why Fort Hill is gaining so much buzz. Hoppy Boston score: 4.5/5.

Foundation Venture

When you travel with a group you always need to make compromises when it comes to an itinerary. I recently took a trip to Portland with a group of 10 friends from college, we had guys travel from 5 different states to attend, and a number of us contributed to the plan for the weekend. A few of the other guys are into beer, a few dabble and a couple couldn’t care at all, so it wouldn’t have been fair to make the whole trip beer-centric. Fortunately I was able to steer the group out to Industrial Way to tour Allagash and check out the other breweries in that area. One brewery that has really grown over the last few years is Foundation Brewing. My first visit to Foundation was soon after they opened and I enjoyed their initial offerings and thought they had some serious potential. Since then they have introduced a number of extremely popular beers, including Epiphany, a Double IPA that has been consistently ranked amongst the best in the state. My recent visit was the first time I’d been back since their expansion, the brewery is beautiful, especially on a nice spring day when you can sit outside and sample some delicious beers. I grabbed some to go too, Epiphany (of course) and their “other” DIPA called Venture, which was new to me. I completely forgot to grab a Foundation glass for my glassware collection, I’ll need to do that next time I am in town. Foundation Venture is brewed with five varieties of New World hops and is available on a rotating basis on draft and in 16 oz. tallboy cans.

Fundation VentureFoundation Venture pours a hazy orange with a massive white head. The scent is a big burst of hops, mostly citrus and tropical fruit. Venture drinks like a hybrid of the New England and West Coast IPA styles. There is a ton of hop flavor, notes of grapefruit, orange, mango and pine along with a solid bitter bite. This is balanced by some malt, touches of bread crust and honey. Venture has a medium body and drinks very easy for 8% ABV. The finish is crisp with some lingering hop flavor and bitterness. Venture is another very good Foundation beer, this is quickly becoming a must visit brewery for anyone checking out the Portland area. Hoppy Boston score: 4.5/5.

Previous Foundation Reviews:

Foundation Afterglow, Foundation WanderlustFoundation Epiphany



Lawson’s Finest Liquids Sip of Sunshine

I try to focus my blogging (and thus the vast majority of my drinking) on New England beers, so my knowledge of breweries in the rest of the country is more limited. Occasionally I see other beer geeks get excited when an out of state brewery announces that they are going to begin local distribution and I need to do some online research to familiarize myself with the brewery. The exception involves breweries from the rest of New England, I try to keep tabs on most of the breweries in the other 5 New England states so I know something about their offerings if I am in their neck of the woods or if they move into eastern Massachusetts. One brewery that needed no introduction was Lawson’s Finest Liquids out of Vermont, who recently announced that they would begin regular distribution to Massachusetts accounts. Lawson’s is best known for their hoppy beers, especially their double IPA Sip of Sunshine, one of the beers that has been credited with developing the style New England IPA and putting it into the national consciousness. Sip of Sunshine distribution is somewhat limited, but you can find it on draft around the city and in distinct yellow 16 oz. tallboy cans in select bottle shops.

Lawson's Finest Liquids Sip of SunshineLawson’s Finest Liquids Sip of Sunshine pours a clear bright orange with a huge off-white head. The aroma is a large burst of hops, tropical and citrus fruit along with pine. The flavor is hop forward, notes of grapefruit, orange, grass and papaya. Sip of Sunshine is mid-way between West Coast and New England Style IPAs, some of the fruit flavor but less haze and just a little bitterness. There is enough malt flavor for some balance, touches of bread crust and biscuits. Sip of Sunshine is medium bodied and drinks very easy for 8% ABV. The finish is crisp with some lingering hop flavor. Sip of Sunshine is clearly an extremely well crafted beer, I understand why it has developed such a following. Some of my regular readers might wonder why it just missed “best beers” level, it’s just a matter of personal taste. While I enjoyed this beer and recognize the quality there are other DIPAs that I prefer. Hoppy Boston score: 4.5/5.

Previous Lawson’s Finest Liquids Reviews:

Otter Creek/Lawson’s Finest Liquids Double Dose

Sam Adams Rebel Raw

I am a huge fan of the show Top Chef, I have watched every season. When I started grad school and was trying to live in Boston on a small stipend I taught myself to really cook (beyond grilling and a few other simple dishes) and I used food TV as a source of inspiration. There are a few types of contestants that always seem to pop up on a Top Chef season. There is the cocky chef who brags about all of their awards and accolades only to get knocked out of the competition early. There is the chef with poor time management who is always running up to the last second and occasionally leaves ingredients off of the plate. Then there is the clearly talented chef who has problems editing themself, they routinely second-guess and overcomplicate their dishes and it’s usually their downfall. This chef immediately came to mind when I tried Sam Adams Rebel Raw. This beer is an attempt by Sam Adams to compete with the popular DIPAs that result in beer geeks waiting in line for hours or following delivery trucks. Rebel Raw is a hop-bomb and is meant to be consumed extremely fresh, ideally within 35 days of the canning date. Rebel Raw uses 7 different varieties of hops and weighs in at a monstrous 10% ABV. It is available as an occasional release to a limited market in 16 oz. cans (the lovely people at Sam Adams were nice enough to send me a sample).

Sam Adams Rebel RawSam Adams Rebel Raw pours a hazy orange with a massive off-white head. The scent is a solid burst of hops, citrus fruit and resin. The flavor is very hop forward, notes of grapefruit, passion fruit, guava, pine and cut grass along with a full hop bite. This is balanced by substantial malt flavor, notes of crusty bread, crackers and caramel. You also definitely taste the booze, it isn’t overpowering but it’s present. Rebel Raw is medium bodied and a sipper by necessity at 10% ABV. It finishes with a bitter bite along with some lingering hop flavor and warming alcohol. This is where my Top Chef comparison comes in, there are a number of things to like about this beer but I think it’s a little overdone, more doesn’t always equal better. If they dialed back the hops just a little and brought the booze down to ~8% I think I would have enjoyed it more. As is it’s good beer with the potential to be great with a little tinkering. Hoppy Boston score: 4.0/5.

Previous Sam Adams Reviews:

Sam Adams Rebel RouserSam Adams Double Bock, Sam Adams Cold Snap, Sam Adams Octoberfest

Fiddlehead Second Fiddle

For the last two and a half years my wife and I have lived on the top floor of a split level house, a common feature in many neighborhoods in metro Boston. Anyone who has lived in a similar situation knows that a huge piece to the satisfaction in your apartment is the neighbors you end up with, good neighbors can be fun and helpful while inconsiderate neighbors will make you want to move. We have been fortunate in our current situation, the couple downstairs is easy going and friendly, just the type of people you hope to meet when you move into a split level. They also know that I am very into beer and brewing, we’ve chatted about it and I’ve shared some of my homebrew. This paid off in a big way recently, our neighbor went on a trip to VT and came back with a case of Fiddlehead Second Fiddle. Second Fiddle is a highly sought after DIPA, one of the stable of top-shelf DIPAs that lead hop-heads from around the country to Vermont. When he offered to share a few cans we immediately jumped at the opportunity. I realize this article is breaking my rule again and reviewing a “whale”, but I was given the beer and thought I should pass along my opinion of it. Fiddlehead Second Fiddle is sold on draft and in 16 oz. tallboy cans in VT, but it tends to sell out quickly.

Fiddlehead Second FiddleFiddlehead Second Fiddle pours a clear deep orange with a moderate off-white head. The scent is full of hops, mostly citrus fruit with a little pine. The hops lead the way in the flavor too, notes of orange, papaya, resin, cut grass and lemon along with a moderate bitterness (by DIPA standards). There is just enough malt for balance, touches of crusty bread, crackers and honey. You also get a hint of booze, not shocking for a beer with 8.2% ABV. Second Fiddle drinks pretty easy for a bigger beer, with a crisp finish that leaves some hop flavor and bitter bite on your tongue. Fiddlehead Second Fiddle is a very well crafted DIPA. I know that many people head to Vermont just to seek out some Heady Topper, but this beer further proves that there are so many other great beers to try in the state. Hoppy Boston score: 4.5/5.

Mayflower Alden

I have stated many times that I am not the kind of person to wait in line at a brewery for a bottle release, I am too busy and there are so many good beers to try that you don’t need to wait for. That being said, I try to keep track of the non-wait-in-line beers being released by my favorite local breweries and try as many as I can when they hit the shelves. Occasionally I pass on new beers, either it’s a style I am not feeling at the moment or I am focused on buying for the blog and it doesn’t fit a story I want to tell. Many times I regret passing later when other beer enthusiasts tell me how great the beer is. Usually I’ll just go out and grab it afterwards, but limited release beers can sell out quickly, especially when they build some buzz. Mayflower Alden, a double IPA released as part of the phenomenal Cooper’s Series, was a beer I missed on it’s first release, and I regretted that quickly. Mayflower originally announced that the beer was a one-off, so it looked like I was out of luck. Fortunately Alden was so popular that Mayflower brewed and bottled another batch this winter, and I didn’t make the same mistake twice. Mayflower Alden is available for a limited time on draft and in 12 oz. bottles, grab some before it’s gone!

Mayflower AldenMayflower Alden pours a clear hay-yellow with a solid white head. The scent is a huge hit of New World hops dominated by citrus and tropical fruit. The beer is very hop forward, notes of grapefruit, mango, orange and pine. The beer is solidly bitter, more of a West Coast style DIPA, but it doesn’t overwhelm the palate. There is enough malt to add notable balance, touches of cracker and whole grain bread. Alden is very clean and incredibly easy to drink for a DIPA with 8% ABV. The finish is crisp with some lingering hop flavor and late bitter bite. This beer is outstanding, I am really glad they brought it back and hope that it becomes a rotational release as part of the Cooper’s Series. Hoppy Boston score: 4.75/5.

Previous Mayflower Reviews:

Mayflower Standish, Mayflower Daily RationMayflower SquantoMayflower PorterMayflower Scotch AleMayflower Spring Hop, Mayflower Oatmeal Stout

Trillium Scaled Up

I wish I could drink each beer 3-4 times from different batches before I reviewed it. I suppose I could, but it would mean writing far fewer articles. Every so often I try a beer and something about it tastes “off” to me, it can be actual off flavors in the beer (oxidation, contamination, etc.), that the beer was too old (or occasionally too young), or just something off with my palate at the time when I sampled the beer. Yes, even seasoned and respected beer writers have off-days (which means hacks like me have them all the time). If there is something wrong with the beer I am usually hesitant to write it up until I try it again, nothing would feel worse than trashing a beer in writing and then enjoying it on a second try. I guarantee this happens with the crowd-sourced beer reviews, especially when people are tasting a ton of beers at a festival and logging in each sample on Untappd or a similar site. How can you properly evaluate something by trying a 3 oz. pour in the middle of a festival?

I recently visited the new Trillium Brewery in Canton and picked up a case of different bottles including a couple bottles of Scaled Up, their new DIPA celebrating the increased capacity that comes with opening the new brewery. I bought two bottles, and tried one almost immediately. The first beer was OK overall, but there was one hop flavor that was aggressive and astringent on my palate (for the record my wife tasted it too). It wasn’t strong enough to ruin the beer, but it didn’t seem right so I hesitated writing about the beer until I could try the second bottle. I waited a couple weeks for the second sample, and that aggressive flavor was gone, the rest of the hop flavors and aromas remained in tact and the beer was very good. I am not sure if the beer was young and something needed to mellow out, or if it was a combination of the hop flavor with something we ate for dinner, but I am glad we had the second bottle to enjoy. Trillium Scaled Up is brewed with Galaxy, Mosaic, Nelson Sauvin and Columbus hops and is available for growler fills and in 750 mL bottles on a rotating basis.

Trillium Scaled UpTrillium Scaled Up pours a clear bright orange with a mild white head. The scent is a big hit of hops, predominantly tropical and citrus fruit aromas. The taste is very hop forward, notes of grapefruit, stone fruit, apricot and tangerine along with a soft bitterness. Some malts round out the flavor, touches of toast, honey and a little boozy sweetness. The beer is medium bodied and goes down very easy for 8% ABV. The finish is crisp and clean with some residual hop flavor. Scaled Up fits perfectly in the stable of good to great IPAs that have made Trillium so popular that they needed to increase production and build a second brewery. I am really glad I grabbed a second bottle. Hoppy Boston score: 4.25/5.

Previous Trillium Reviews:

Trillium Launch Beer, Trillium PM DawnBREWERY OVERVIEW, Trillium Sinister Kid, Trillium Congress St. IPATrillium Farmhouse AleTrillium Wakerobin Rye