Been too long

First off, I’m sorry to have been away from this for three years. I could make up some bullshit excuse, but honestly, I just grew tired of it. Life has started to even out a little lately, so I’m going to give this another try. Instead of trying to force myself into multiple posts a week like most blogs, I have decided to try to maintain a once a week update, but fully knowing that’s not going to happen and not beating myself up over it. 

I’m happy to announce my new endeavor, Sunday Suds. In this reinvented blog, I’m going to take part of my Sunday, when I have the free time, to sit back, relax, and review a brew. Really take my time and enjoy every sip. I realized that over the last few years, I was drinking beer as a way to unwind after the workday, and wasn’t actually tasting the beer. I think that at least a few Sundays a month if I can just focus on the beer I’ll be able to better enjoy my weekday drinks as well. So, for better or worse, here we go!
Sunday Suds #1. January 20, 2019. 

As you may recall, one of my favorite ways to buy beer is because I like the name or the packaging art. For SS1, the name won me over. Scottie’s IPA. For a period of my youth, I was known as Scottie (or Scotty, I was a never really sure how people thought to spell it), and while that’s gone, one or two people still call me that on occasion. It may be from a bygone era, but I still embrace the nickname when I have to. But enough about my past.

Moat Mountain Brewing Co., in the Mount Washingotn Valley town of North Conway, NH recently brought this one to market. They report that this is the brewer’s favorite recipe that, over the past eight years, has been honed to balance American and Australian hops. I think they’ve done a fantastic job. This isn’t a very strong smelling beer, giving off only a slight grapefruit accented pine nose. The first sip really opens things up, though. The pine gives way to a pleasant and mild green melon flavor and a slight effervescence that reminds me of the newest wave of haute-couture IPAs, the Brut IPA. (Writer’s note – I’m still on the fence about those). 

After a few minutes to warm up from my slightly-too-cold beer fridge, the melon yields to a pleasant hop resin mouthfeel. It’s the right amount. Sometimes the resin sort of sticks to your palate and it dictates the entire beer. This rolls around a little then wears off, allowing the other flavors to be experienced as well. Moat reports this brew to be only 45IBU, but it comes off feeling more like a 65-70. I’ll openly admit that I understand IBU as far as being a 0-100+ scale, but I have no clue how they measure or rate or whatever. I just base my feelings off of other 40-50IBU beers that seem less bitter than this. If anybody out there in interwebsland can enlighten me, I’d be happy to learn something new. 

Further into this beer, the flavor is still evolving, with mild lemon and grapefruit coming to the forefront while leaving the melon behind. As the temp comes up more, the resin subsides slightly, leaving a lemon-y tang with the pine. Overall, Scottie’s IPA is an amazing and eclectic beer that deserves any and all praise it receives. The flavor has evolved drastically, and I have thoroughly enjoyed this latest offering from Moat Mountain. 

I would 100% recommend Scottie’s IPA to anyone looking for a solid IPA that really shows what the style can offer.

<>BM
P.S. WineyWoman just handed me a Vermont Maple Puffed Corn, uh, thing, and it really complemented this beer!

White Birch Brewing – Nyx

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Dark and delicious!

This beer is dark. Like dark as night dark….hence the name. The aroma is super strong, too. Even before my first sip I can smell the malty goodness from a couple feet away. The head was a nice, thick, creamy, chocolate-colored foam that lingered for quite some time.

The first sip wasn’t at all what I expected. There’s no sharp attack from the malt, like you get with some dark beers. This is just smooth all the way through. It’s got a chocolate flavor to go along with the color of the head; and a slight coffee hint that rounds out the aftertaste, which is good since I love coffee, but not as much as I love beer. Part way though my massive tankard, I’m finding that there are some hints of hops beginning to poke though the wall of malt. It’s not a lot, just enough to take the pointed sweetness down a bit.

As I reached the midpoint of this one and the temperature came up a bit, the flavor changed massively. The chocolate started to wain a tad, with coffee coming to the nose, accompanied by a stronger hop scent. The end of this bomber offers another round of coffee-ish malt, with the hops fading into the background….and a yearning for more.

This was one simply awesome brew, and I can’t wait to try more of this unique creation next fall/winter.

Beer Man

Sea Hagg Distillery– North Hampton, NH

We went to North Hampton to look at BMW motorcycles, and when we were done looking at motorcycles, we made a quick detour on our way home to Sea Hagg distillery. Tucked into a business plaza, this cute little distillery serves a variety of rum, whiskey and brandy. When we arrived, we were greeted by Zoey the standard poodle, who led us to the tasting bar where they offered us a delicious taste of some hot buttered rum that was warming in a jury-rigged Mr. Coffee. It was scrumptious and I’m kicking myself for not snapping a pic of the recipe they had typed out in front of it.

We tried a blueberry, strawberry, and then Beer Man tried their white whiskey and oak-aged brandy. The flavored rums would make excellent mixed drinks, particularly mojitos. The proprietor was extremely friendly and knowledgeable and we highly suggest a visit the next time you are near the NH seacoast.

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Winey Woman 🙂

Long Trail Brewing – Limbo IPA

Spoiler Alert — I know at the start we stated that this blog was going to be for the Average Joe, with no snobbery. I’m breaking that rule on this one.
Limbo IPA is a special new brew from Long Trail. They’ve used a “new variety” of hops, coming from Australia and the Pacific Northwest. Why. Why are they importing hops from across the country and half way around the world??? They’re ruining their “small-town brewery” image here. They could have found a local variety of hops, grown in the northeast, that is comparable to whatever they’re using from around the world (they conveniently don’t mention what “new varieties” they’re using). Many, no, most, of the other breweries I’ve been enjoying lately are clearly proud to let their customers know what hops they’ve used in their beers, but Long Trail is being secretive for some reason.

The beer isn’t bad, despite what my above diatribe may have indicated. There’s a quite strong nose of orange, with a little hint of herbs, too. The first sip offers up a nice hoppy fizziness on the tongue, followed by a slight bitterness. It’s not so bitter that you pucker up and reconsider what you’ve gotten yourself into, however. The overall mouthfeel is smooth with a slight bite from the new “mystery” hops. I did like it, but I’m just disappointed that they couldn’t be bothered to use local ingredients. I’d have to say with this gaff, Long Trail has now graduated from micro-brewery to craft brewer; and I’m sad to see this happen.

<>Beer Man

Smuttynose Brewing with Stone Brewing — Cluster’s Last Stand

wpid-20150120_053502.jpgThis beer is great. To start, it pours with a near-perfect head. The first sip starts out with a pleasant hit of malt, balanced with full citrus hops. Like the head I was able to achieve in pouring, the first sip is nearly perfect. This is a wonderful collaboration beer. The bitterness of the hops starts to poke though after a few swallows, but it’s nothing overwhelming; there’s still plenty of sweetness from the malt to keep things in check.

After a while, the bitterness dissipates somewhat, leaving behind a well-rounded beer. I imagine part of this is because the brew has warmed up a little (5-10 degrees maybe?), and partly because it’s got enough of an abv to make a dent in my sobriety as I sit on the couch watching Top Gear and writing this, relaxing after a marathon of a Monday at work. With a “man’s dinner” of steak and potatoes, this beer is excellent as well.

This is an all-around wonderful brew from two powerhouses in the craft/micro-brewery genre. I will definitely be seeking out more bottles quite soon.

<>Beer Man

Harpoon Brewery, Windsor, VT — something a little different this time.

Winey Woman and I decided to visit Harpoon Brewery’s Windsor, VT., location for lunch this weekend. I was smart enough to remember my two empty Harpoon growlers, as I usually find something worth taking home a lot of to share with friends. This visit was no exception. Being a Saturday, the place was PACKED, but even so, the wait for a table was only about 15 minutes. That gave us plenty of time to wander through the retail section to see the new clothing, beer glasses, sunglasses with pop-toppers built in, and of course, plenty of bottled and canned beer.

Harpoon Brewery, Windsor, VT

Harpoon Brewery, Windsor, VT

Upon being seated, our waitress was prompt and knowledgeable about the new beers on tap. Harpoon had two pilot batches ready to serve, Boston Tea Party and Humble Braggert. BTP was described as a porter brewer with black tea, and HB was a double IPA with tons of hops. I opted to get a taste of both, along with ordering one of my seasonal favorites, Long Thaw IPA. The BTP was dark…like really dark. But what did I expect of a porter with black tea? I’m not much of a tea drinker, and when I do, it’ll be herbal or white tea mostly. This one wasn’t something I’d personally seek out, but if you like dark beers with a far amount of bitterness, this one could be right up your alley.

From L to R: Hard Cider, Boston Tea Party, Humble Braggert, and Long Thaw

From L to R: Hard Cider, Boston Tea Party, Humble Braggert, and Long Thaw

Humble Braggert, on the other hand, was awesome. So much hoppy goodness in one small sip, I was blown away. Having only had a small taste, I can’t comment on how it’ll hold up throughout an entire pint, but my small taste was enough for me to get a growler to go. Winey Woman got her standard Harpoon Hard Cider, as having Celiacs Disease makes drinking beer a rather unpleasant experience.

Might as well try a few!

Might as well try a few!

WW interjection: Harpoon’s hard cider is decent. Drinkable, but much more like fermented apple juice in taste than a highly developed flavor profile found in some other hard ciders. I much prefer Harpoon’s honey version of their hard cider. They have also done a pilot batch of dry-hopped cider that was truly delicious. Hint, hint, Harpoon!!!

WW enjoying her cider

WW enjoying her cider

Our lunches came out looking awesome, I had a BLT with beer battered fries, and WW had a tuna melt on gluten-free bread. Like usual, both meals were great, and we enjoyed our time immensely. As mentioned above, I took home a growler of Humble Braggert, and I also got a fill up of Rich & Dan’s Rye IPA. I remember having this one a few years ago when it was launched, and felt it was time to reacquaint myself with it. I’ll be doing full reviews of both of these sometime soon.

The Beer Garden has a warm atmosphere- a really nice place to grab a brew and some food

The Beer Garden has a warm atmosphere- a really nice place to grab a brew and some food

Along with Harpoon’s northern location, the light industrial park (Artisans Way) they are in features a distillery and a shop featuring Vermont food products. Since we were there and didn’t have any time constraints, we decided to wander about some. In The Sustainable Farmer, they feature a smorgasbord of local Vermont products ranging from the obligatory maple syrup to cheese, sauces, spreads, and a recent addition – Putney Mountain Winery. Much to our surprise, one of the owners was there, pouring samples of their delicious wines. After having a taste of all eight they had in stock, we picked out two, a cranberry wine and a cassis dessert liquor. Both shall be reviewed shortly by WW and myself.

Silo Distillery- just across the driveway from Harpoon

SILO Distillery- just across the driveway from Harpoon

The other alcoholic offering at Artisans Way is SILO Vodka. A vodka distillery that now offers other options, including bourbon and moonshine. I decided to sample the bourbon and moonshine, as I’d only ever had their vodka, which is amazingly smooth. The moonshine was definitely moonshine, but was clearly thought out. It had a rough taste, but wasn’t so rough that you couldn’t enjoy it. The bourbon, on the other hand, was incredible. So utterly smooth and flavorful, it was possibly the best I’ve ever had. I wanted to buy a bottle, but the price was quite steep, so I guess I’ll have to wait for my birthday or something… 😦

Overall we had an awesome time in Windsor, discovered some new drinks and revisited some old, and I can’t wait to bring you my thoughts on Harpoon’s brews.

<>Beer Man

White Birch Brewing – Double IPA

Awesome. Despite being a double IPA, it’s really smooth. I was expecting a somewhat harsh brew, but this is well balanced. There’s a big wallop of hops right on the nose, and where a typical heavy IPA hits you with bitterness, this doesn’t. It’s more of a sweet bitter, if that makes sense. There are a bunch of flavors going on – plenty of the obvious sweet citrus from the hops, but also some savory, herbal notes. And it’s right up there on the abv scale, too. Not even half way though the 22oz bottle and I’m feeling pretty good 🙂 Because it’s a big bottle, you don’t have any choice but to nurse it a little, and as it warms up, the beer loses a lot of bitterness, letting the sweet and savory shine, as I’m sure the brewmaster intended.

<>Beer Man

White Birch Brewing Hop Session

White Birch Brewing, Hooksett, NH — Hop Session.

White Birch Brewing Van at the Brewery (Winey Woman made a quick stop there on NYE).

White Birch Brewing Van at the Brewery (Winey Woman made a quick stop there on NYE).

So good. Just such a wonderful hoppyness (yes, that’s a word….now.) The initial aroma is a little weak, brewer’s notes suggest serving at 50-55 deg and I poured it straight from a VERY cold refrigerator, but the citrus nose makes up for it. There isn’t an overpowering citrus profile, just enough to let you know this beer has plenty of hops. The malt is kept in check, and neither it nor the hops outwiegh the other; everything is well balanced.

Enjoying this brew with some tortilla chips is nice – the salt from the chips brings the pine flavors forward, completely changing the overall flavor. As the glass warms up, the aroma is released, much like red wine opens up as it sits in your glass. Overall another awesome brew from a simply wonderful nano-brewery where the norm is “Not NorMal.”

MINI Coopers and their owners are known for being "Not NorMal." Both Winey Woman's MINI (pictured here) and Beer Man's MINI have these stickers on their sunroofs.

MINI Coopers and their owners are known for being “Not NorMal.” Both Winey Woman’s MINI (pictured here) and Beer Man’s MINI have these stickers on their sunroofs.

<>Beer Man