Tag Archives: IPA

Mystic Voltage and Echo

It is no longer news when a brewery starts canning their beers, in fact I’m struggling to think of any Massachusetts breweries with a significant distribution footprint that don’t can. One of the last hold-outs was Mystic Brewing in Chelsea. For years Mystic brewed a lineup dominated by flavorful saisons and other Belgian styles, mostly distributed in large format bottles. Many of these beers are stellar, but unfortunately almost all of the buzz (and the sales that go along with it) is focused on hop-bomb IPAs. Mystic’s lineup has slowly incorporated hoppy beers over the last year or so. They started with a rotating selection of brewery-only DIPAs and now they’ve revamped their brand by producing cans of a number of these hop-forward offerings. I really wish a brewery could thrive making entirely Belgian styles, but hopefully this change will lead some hop heads to branch out and enjoy some beer styles outside of their comfort zone. I also hope that Mystic still sticks with some of their classics, even if it’s on a rotating or limited release schedule. I guess we’ll see how this all shakes out. I was able to try a number of Mystic’s new beers including their NEIPA Voltage and Echo, which is called a session IPA on the can but seems to be a hoppy saison. Both beers are available on a rotating basis on draft and in 16 oz tallboy cans.

Mystic VoltageMystic Voltage pours hazy light yellow with a solid white head. The scent is a huge burst of fruity New World hops. The hops also dominate the flavor, notes of mango, grapefruit, peach and tangerine along with a mild bitter bite. This is complemented by a light malt backbone, hints of bread dough and crackers. Voltage is medium bodied and very easy to drink but solidly boozy at 7.0% ABV. The finish is crisp and smooth with lingering hop flavor that keeps you coming back for more. This is a top notch IPA, not a straight juice-bomb but plenty of the fruity hops that have become so popular. This will quickly become a go-to IPA for me, just a delicious beer. Highly recommended.  Hoppy Boston score: 4.75/5.

Mystic EchoMystic Echo pours slightly hazy bright yellow with a full white head. The aroma is a mixture of fruity and floral hops with expressive Belgian style yeast. These two elements lead the flavor as well. The hops add notes of orange, spruce and herbs with just a little bitterness. The yeast contributes hints of apple, apricot and peppercorn. Touches of wheat bread and cereal from the malts round out the flavor. Echo is light and super drinkable, very much a session beer at 4.3% ABV. The finish is crisp and dry with lingering hop and yeast flavors. I am a big fan of mixing late hops with expressive Belgian style yeasts, and this is a solid version of the style. Mystic is so good at building beers around these strains of yeast, I hope to see more hoppy saisons in their future releases. Hoppy Boston score: 4.25/5.

Previous Mystic Reviews:

Mystic Kanzu, Mystic Sauvignon Blanc Barrel SaisonMystic Vinland 4Mystic De Varenne, Mystic India Wharf Pale Ale, BREWERY OVERVIEW, Mystic Flor ZMystic Melissa, Mystic DescendantMystic Vinland ThreeMystic Brewery visit and Day of Doom, Mystic Hazy Jane, Mystic Mary of the Gael, Mystic Vinland Two, Mystic Table Beer

 

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Lone Pine Brightside IPA and Oh-J DIPA

The beer scene in Portland, Maine is insane, both in the sheer quantity of breweries for a small city and for the  high quality of the beer being brewed. Portland has a wide range from stalwarts like Allagash to buzzy upstarts like Bissell Brothers and Foundation. The popularity of these breweries has made Portland into a destination beer city for beer fans from around the world, and this had led to even more new breweries opening up shop. One newer addition that has started to build significant buzz is Lone Pine Brewing Company. Lone Pine makes a variety of beers with a focus on IPAs that showcase new world hop varieties. I was able to stop at Lone Pine  on a recent trip north and I grabbed a selection of cans to go. The brewery features a small tasting room with indoor and outdoor seating, and it’s an easy stop off of I-295 if you are driving through the city on your way north or south. Among the beers I grabbed was their flagship IPA Brightside and one of their double IPAs named Oh-J, which uses citrus forward hops to give the beer it’s distinctive juicy flavor and aroma. Both beers are available on a regular basis on draft and in 16 oz. tallboy cans.

Lone Pine Brightside IPALone Pine Brightside IPA pours slightly hazy light orange with a solid white head. The scent is a big burst of fruity hops that makes you want to dive right in. The flavor is also very hop forward, notes of tangerine, guava and melon along with a little bitter bite. This is complemented by a mild malt backbone, hints of crackers and bread crust. Brightside is light bodied and has the smooth drinkability you look for in a NEIPA, but it packs a little punch at 7.1% ABV. The finish is crisp with some lingering hop flavor that keeps you coming back for more. This is a stellar IPA, well crafted with huge hop flavor. It has a little more bitterness than some NEIPAs, but I would still put it into that sub-style. Brightside guarantees that Lone Pine will become a regular stop on trips to Maine, it is on par with any Maine IPA I’ve sampled. Hoppy Boston score: 4.75/5.

Lone Pine Oh-JLone Pine Oh-J pours slightly hazy light yellow with a large white head. The scent gives you a huge whiff of citrus and tropical fruit from the hops. These fruity hops lead the flavor too, notes of orange candy, lemon and peach but minimal bitterness. There is also solid malt flavor, touches of bread dough, honey and a little residual sweetness, although I’m not sure if it’s from the malt, the booze or the fruity hops (probably some combination of the three). Oh-J is medium bodied and drinks very easy for a DIPA, especially for a beer with 8.1% ABV. The finish is somewhat crisp with some lingering hops. I’ve heard lots of buzz for this beer and I understand why people like it, although that sweet flavor was a slight minus for me (personal preference). Still worth a shot for fans of New England style DIPAs. Hoppy Boston score: 4.25/5.

Bissell Brothers Pine Tree Agronomics

I am a huge fan of Bissell Brothers Brewing in Portland, I don’t think I’ve ever had a bad beer from there and everyone from the brewery has always been awesome, back to the early days on Industrial Way. I’m clearly not the only Bissell fan, even with the increased capacity enabled by the opening of their new brewery that place is a madhouse for can releases, especially in the summer during peak tourist season. Last summer I stopped on the way home from a family visit and waited in line for well over an hour for cans, not an easy sell when traveling with family. For that reason I skipped Bissell on both Maine trips this summer, opting for other breweries that wouldn’t have the wait. Fortunately I had to come north for a wedding a couple weeks ago, and I was travelling solo on a Friday mid-day, so I made a noontime stop at Bissell Brothers. In less than 15 minutes I was loaded with cans on their flagship IPA The Substance and a new release, Pine Tree Agronomics. Bissell Brothers Pine Tree Agronomics is an IPA brewed with 100% Maine products, malt, oats, wheat, Cascade and Nugget hops, and even Maine maple syrup. It is available on a limited basis on draft and in 16 oz cans.

Bissell Brothers Pine Tree AgronomicsBissell Brothers Pine Tree Agronomics pours murky light orange with a solid white head. The aroma is solidly hoppy, but more floral and pine then fruity. The hops also lead the flavor, notes of resin, spruce, herbs and grapefruit along with a solid bitter bite. This has the hazy appearance of a NEIPA but drinks more like a West Coast IPA. There is a solid malt backbone too, hints of bread crust, cereal and just the faintest hint of maple. Pine Tree Agronomics has a medium body and packs a little punch at 7.5% ABV. The finish is crisp with a lasting hop flavor that keeps you coming back for more. At first I was a little thrown off by this beer, it isn’t what I expected from a Bissell Brothers beer, but after getting over the initial surprise I really enjoyed Pine Tree Agronomics. Great to have some Bissell Brothers beer in the fridge and I hope to make another stop when I am in Maine in November. Hoppy Boston score: 4.5/5.

Previous Bissell Brothers Reviews:

Bissell Brothers Seed, Bissell Brothers The Substance

 

Old Planters Crop Rotation IPA

I typically keep a solid list of beers that I’ve heard good things about but haven’t had a chance to try. For a while I kept a physical list (or at least a memo stored on my phone) but I’ve gotten away from that and now I  try to set aside a small piece of my already overworked brain for the task. Fortunately I frequent bottle shops that specialize in quality beer, so a quick walk around the store can usually jog my memory. One beer that I finally found on a recent stock up run was Crop Rotation IPA from Old Planters Brewing Company out of Beverly, MA. Old Planters was started by a couple of Beverly natives and named after the first settlers in the town. The beer was initially brewed out of the cellar in one of the founder’s homes, but due to increased demand they now contract brew at Ipswich. One of their most popular beers is Crop Rotation IPA, a modern hop-forward take on the style brewed with a rotating selection of hops. Old Planters Hop Rotation IPA is available year round on draft and now in 16 oz. tallboy cans.

Old Planters Crop RotationOld Planters Crop Rotation IPA pours hazy light yellow with a small white head. The scent is a big burst of fruity hops, loads of tropical and citrus fruit. The flavor is extremely hop forward, notes of mango, tangerine, grapefruit and papaya along with a crisp bitter bite. A mid malt backbone rounds out the beer, hints of whte bread and cereal. Crop Rotation is medium bodied and drinks easy, and at 5.6% ABV it is on the light side for a modern IPA. The finish is crisp and clean with some lingering hop flavor and bite. This is a really nice IPA, has the fruit forward flavor that has made the NEIPA style so popular along with enough bitterness to keep it from being straight juice. Definitely worth a shot for all of the hop heads out there. Hoppy Boston score: 4.5/5.

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.

Big Elm Thunderlips

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 ThunderlipsBig 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