One of the reasons that I enjoy single hop beers (or other beers that showcase a particular hop variety) is my love of homebrewing. I enjoy developing my own brewing recipes, but I occasionally get stuck in a rut with my hop selections. I have a few standout hop varieties that I tend to use in all of my hop-forward beers, Citra, Simcoe, Mosaic, Cascade, etc., but I am always on the lookout for new types of hops that can add different flavors and aromas to hoppy beers. Most brewers focus on single hop IPAs, it’s a hop forward beer and anything with the letters IPA is pretty much guaranteed to sell. I actually prefer single hop American pale ales, the lower bitterness, alcohol and malt content really allows the hops to shine. One of the newest releases from Long Trail is Stand Out, an American pale ale showcasing the Equinox hop. Stand Out is a spring seasonal release, and is a perfect fit into Hoppy Boston pale ale month. Long Trail Stand Out is available on draft and in 12 oz. bottles this spring.
Long Trail Stand Out pours a hazy copper with a small white head. The scent is a solid dose of fruity and floral hops. The Equinox hops lead the flavor, notes of orange, peach, mango, herbs and grass along with a refreshingly crisp bitterness. This is balanced by some light malts, crackers with a touch of honey. Stand Out is super light and easy to drink, not too boozy at 5.2% ABV. The finish is crisp and clean with some lingering hop flavor that keeps you coming back for more. Equinox hops are a very interesting variety, I will keep them in mind for future brewing sessions, and I definitely recommend that you give Long Trail Stand Out a shot. Hoppy Boston score: 4.5/5
Previous Long Trail Reviews:
Long Trail “Sick Day” IPA, Long Trail Harvest Barn Ale, Long Trail Limbo, Long Trail Ramble, Long Trail Double Bag
I have no idea how some people can drink beer while they’re sick. I’ve been fighting a nasty head-cold and I haven’t even felt like writing about beer, let alone drinking any. How can you enjoy the full sensory experience of a great beer when you can’t smell anything and your tongue is numb from cough drops? Fortunately I tend to drink a week or so ahead, so I have beers I drank last week (when I was healthy) to review this week. I’ll get caught up this weekend when I am feeling better. I had no idea when I sampled Long Trail’s new “Sick Day” IPA last week that I would get sick afterwards, (and not from the beer) so it seems like an appropriate beer to review considering my current circumstances. The “Sick Day” moniker is clearly a little tongue in cheek, referring to all the people who call in sick from work to go skiing in the winter. Long Trail is releasing “Sick Day” as their new winter seasonal, replacing their old winter beer Hibernator, a Scottish ale. This seems to be a trend, where many craft breweries are replacing malt-forward seasonal beers with hoppier offerings. Long Trail “Sick Day” IPA is available on draft and in 12 oz. bottles during the cold winter months.
Long Trail “Sick Day” IPA pours a deep amber with a mild white head. The smell is hop-forward, floral and foresty. The hops also lead the taste, with notes of pine, grass and earth. This hoppiness is balanced by a solid dose of malt, hints of caramel and whole grain bread. The beer is smooth and drinkable, with a full body and a pleasant bitter bite. The finish is clean with some pine and grass flavor in the aftertaste. While Long Trail’s Limbo IPA is more of the American/West Coast style citrusy hop-bomb, this beer is more of the English style IPA, hop forward with a solid chewy malt backbone. I actually prefer these heavier bodied and malty IPAs during the colder months, so this fits the season. Hoppy Boston score: 4.0/5.
Previous Long Trail Reviews:
Long Trail Harvest Barn Ale, Long Trail Limbo, Long Trail Ramble, Long Trail Double Bag
This weekend I did a bit of a stock up run at Craft Beer Cellar in Newton, and I noticed that many breweries were swapping out their fall seasonals for winter beers. This is actually reasonable, November is close enough to winter to justify starting this transition, this is nothing like pumpkin beers showing up on store shelves in July. With winter seasonals on the way in I’ll try to wrap up my reviews of fall beers over the next week or so. Long Trail Brewing Company in Vermont releases a brown ale called Harvest Barn Ale every fall. Brown ales have never been my favorite style, but the medium to full body and solid malt sweetness nicely complements the brisk weather of the fall. Harvest is brewed with the addition of one of Vermont’s signature products, maple syrup, which adds a little residual sweetness and helps the malty flavor of the beer sing. Long Trail Harvest is available in 12 oz. bottles and on draft during what’s left of the fall season.
Long Trail Harvest Barn Ale pours a clear deep brown with a mild off-white head. The scent is a mixture of brown sugar with a little floral hop kick. The taste is led off by a full complement of malt, notes of caramel, whole grain bread, toasted barley and maple syrup. This is balanced by just a hint of hops, some earthy and woodsy flavors with a touch of bitterness. The beer is very drinkable, medium bodied with a solid mouthfeel and a crisp finish that leaves a bit of malty sweetness on the tongue. At 4.4% ABV it is a session beer by most definitions, something you don’t typically find in a malty brown ale. Long Trail Harvest is a very well done fall beer, easy to drink but enough body to hold up to the chilly weather we’ve been experiencing as of late. Grab a pint before the last of the fall beers are edged out by winter ales and snow covers everything! Hoppy Boston score: 4.25/5.
Previous Long Trail Reviews:
Long Trail Limbo, Long Trail Ramble, Long Trail Double Bag
The ever evolving tastes of American craft beer consumers presents a challenge for older breweries who need to balance brewing the beer that made them popular with making new and exciting brews. This is especially tough with IPA, the most popular type of craft beer but also a style that has evolved significantly over the years. The original English style was full bodied with a large dose of bitter and earthy Old world hops. Many early American craft brewers were inspired by traditional English styles and brewed their IPAs in this fashion. This started to change when a few breweries on the US West coast produced IPAs that highlighted the fruitier flavor and aroma of new hop strains grown in the Pacific Northwest. These West coast IPAs used extensive hop additions late in the boil and during fermentation to give the big hop flavor and smell that has come to define this style. Now many breweries that started brewing English style IPAs years ago are left with a choice to brew their classic beer or change with the times. Long Trail has decided to keep brewing their classic Long Trail IPA and also start brewing a new West Coast style IPA called Limbo. Limbo is brewed year round and sold on draft and in 12 oz. bottles.
Long Trail Limbo pours a deep amber, slightly hazy with a mild white head. The smell is a huge burst of American hops, tons of citrus and tropical fruit with a little pine. The taste is hops, hops and more hops. Grapefruit, mango, papaya, orange, lemon, with just a little floral and earthy flavor. Basically everything you love about New World hop varieties! There is enough malt to provide a little balance, but this is clearly a hop-bomb West coast style IPA. Limbo is solidly bitter but not tongue-numbing. The beer is medium bodied and drinkable, you don’t taste the 7.6% ABV at all. The finish is crisp with a pleasant bitterness on the tongue. This beer is delicious, it could hold its own against many of the higher priced, hard to find IPAs that people drive hours to wait in line to buy. I’d much rather grab some Limbo at the local beer store and I suggest you do too! Hoppy Boston score: 4.75/5.
Previous Long Trail reviews:
Long Trail Ramble, Long Trail Double Bag
Despite the snow this morning there have been some recent signs of spring in New England, including occasional sunshine and warm weather this past weekend. As this transition happens I like to switch out some of the dark stouts and porters for lighter bodied beers that complement the warmer weather. Local breweries also begin shipping their spring seasonals (sometimes far to early). Spring seasonal brews trend towards light bodied pale ales, witbiers and saisons. Expect a number of upcoming reviews of spring seasonals in this space, and hopefully some more warm weather to accompany these beers. One new addition to the local lineup of spring seasonals is Ramble from Long Trail Brewing Company in Vermont. Ramble is a German style kolsch, brewed with ale yeast then conditioned at low temperature. Ramble was originally a draft-only special release in 2013, but it was very well recieved and this year became their spring seasonal. Ramble is distributed in 12 ounce bottles and on draft. It is brewed with Carapils and wheat malts, Nugget and Hallertau hops, plus additions of lemon zest and freshly ground peppercorns.
Long Trail Ramble pours a crystal clear golden yellow with a mild white head. There is solid carbonation, evident as you pour. The smell is pretty mild, there are notes of grain, baking bread and a touch of lemon. The taste and body are both light and refreshing. The malts come through first with flavors of crackers, light malt, and a little butter. The German style yeast adds some clove and a little fruity ester character. There is also some mild bitterness from the hops. The lemon and pepper are both present but not assertive, they provide a subtle complement to the malt and yeast flavors. The finish is very clean, and at 5.25% ABV the beer isn’t too heavy. This is a great beer for the upcoming warmer weather. I can easily see myself sipping a few on the porch during a spring afternoon! Hoppy Boston score: 4.0/5.
Previous Long Trail reviews:
Long Trail Brewing started in 1989 with the goal of making quality local beer to compete with imports from Germany and England. Their brewery in Bridgewater Corners, VT now makes a variety of craft ales that are distributed all over the Northeast. The Long Trail lineup includes a number of year-long and seasonal ales inspired by traditional German and British styles. One of the most popular Long Trail beers is Double Bag, a strong version of a German-style altbier. Altbier is an interesting style, most German beers are lagers, using bottom fermenting yeast and cooler fermentation temperatures. Altbiers use a top fermenting ale yeast, although many undergo a secondary fermentation at lower temperature. Double Bag is a heavier, darker version of Long Trail’s flagship altbier. The altbier style originated in the lower Rhine region of Germany. Traditional altbiers are medium in color and balanced with low to moderate ABV. Many German breweries also made a stronger version of alt, called stickebier. Double Bag is made in the stickebier tradition, with a dark color and rich flavor from caramel and chocolate malts and higher ABV.
Long Trail Double Bag pours a light brown with red tints, very clear with a small white head. The smell is rich dark malts and caramel, along with a touch of earthy hops. The malts also come through strong in the flavor, with touches toffee, caramel, cocoa powder and toasted bread. The malt sweetness is cut with some mild hop flavors, contributing some floral, pine and earthy notes. It weighs in at 7.2% ABV, and you get a touch of warming alcohol in the flavor. Despite the high alcohol, the beer is crisp and easy to drink. The aftertaste is balanced, a mixture of malt sweetness cut by a touch of hop bitterness left on the tongue. This is a great winter beer, full bodied and warming, built well to pair with hearty winter dishes. Hoppy Boston score: 4.25/5.