BeerCast #70 – MrB in NE

Posted by on Jun 2, 2012 in American Beer, BeerCasts | No Comments

It’s podcast time again here at the BeerCast – and we take a slight diversion from our ‘Best of British’ theme for 2012. MrB was dispatched to work in New England for several weeks around Easter, so as we’re never off duty he loaded up the ol’ suitcase for the trip home. We sample four US beers from small microbreweries – beginning with New England Brewing Co’s Sea Hag IPA (6.2%). Next up is Sixpoint’s Bengali Tiger (6.4%), before we move onto the bottles for Cambridge Brewing Co’s The Audacity of Hops (8.5%). As ever, we finish on a big note – this time courtesy of New Hampshire’s Smuttynose S’muttonator (9.6%). Thankful that MrB had a hefty luggage allowance are Shovels, Richard and Grooben.

1. Sea Hag IPA
New England Brewing Co, Woodbridge, Connecticut.
355ml can

MrB’s base for most of his trip was the leafy college town of New Haven, Connecticut. One of the local brews he chugged (knowing him, at a raucous frat party) was a canned IPA from local Woodbridge producer New England Brewing. Started by an avid homebrewer who took the plunge – as with almost every American brewery, it seems – Rob Leonard worked his way up from the very bottom to end up owning the company. Their flagship is a steam beer called Atlantic Amber – but, as ever, MrB gravitated towards the hops. And pizza (New Haven having the best in the US, apparently).

What They Say
“A rich and full bodied India Pale Ale with complex malt character blended with cascade and noble hops. The end result is a beer that satisfies the “hop head” out there and won’t chase away the newcomer.” [Official Website]

What We Say
MrB – I drank this all the time there, it’s even better on keg 8
Richard – Vinous, a bit of grapefruit, sweetness arrives 8
Shovels – Has a hoppy character I can’t put my finger on
Grooben – Lemon juice bitterness, and it builds up as you go

2. Bengali Tiger
Sixpoint Brewing Co, Brooklyn, New York.
455ml can

Offices in New York were the prefect opportunity for MrB to indulge in a bit of sight-seeing – so after shinning up and down the Empire State Building (over-rated, apparently) he headed to Brooklyn and sought out some decent beer. After discovering the brilliant Barcade – craft beer and classic arcade machines – the second best thing he found was Sixpoint’s range of canned beers. Located in Red Hook, they were draught only until last year, when the large silvery cans first appeared. Bengali Tiger is their old-style English IPA.

What They Say
“Bengali Tiger has a hoppy snap upfront, but strides at a steady pace, and finishes balanced. The signature characteristic of the Tiger is the aroma… we use massive quantities of whole East Kent Goldings hops to dry hop in our conditioning tanks. The result? The essential oils from the hops are an enticing treat before every sip.” [Official Website]

What We Say
Richard – Bitter orange balanced by a nice caramel sweetness
Shovels – Disagree with the balance – it’s too bitter and lingering 6
Grooben – Citrus and resinous hops don’t meld well with the malt 6
MrB – It’s OK but tastes almost like a seasonal winter warmer 6

3. The Audacity of Hops
Cambridge Brewing Co, Cambridge, Massachusetts.
22fl oz glass bottle

Students the world over are a thirsty lot – and in Cambridge, Massachusetts there are plenty of them. Just across the Charles River from Boston, the town is world-famous for being the site of Harvard, MIT and many more seats of learning. All that brainpower requires refreshment – and at Kendall Square a brewpub delivers just that. The oldest brewery restaurant in Boston (founded in 1989), the Cambridge Brewing Co produce a range of beers, all meant to pair with food. The one selected by MrB is their Belgian IPA, said to be similar to his (and my) favourite beer in the world – Staminee de Garre’s House Tripel. Praise indeed!

What They Say
“Liberally hopped to an audacious degree, our Belgian IPA reaches across the aisle to bridge the seemingly contradictory brewing philosophies of the old world and new. Brewed with pale and Vienna malts, dry hop additions of Amarillo, Simcoe, Palisades, and Spalter put aside those differences to form a delicious coalition. All of these characteristics come together in the spirit of cooperation to form a beer that is righteously flavorful and drinkable.” [Official Website]

What We Say
MrB – I get Belgian tripel – such a perfect balance of flavours 9
Richard – Peppery like a rye beer, everything balances brilliantly 9
Grooben – That’s a complex beer, there’s so much going on 9
Shovels – A little bit of Belgian goes a long way 8

4. S’muttonator
Smuttynose Brewing Co, Portsmouth, New Hampshire.
22fl oz glass bottle

Taking their name from a nearby island – rumoured to be the place where Blackbeard spent his honeymoon (of all things) – Smuttynose are one of the foremost craft breweries in New Hampshire. Sporting their famously eager ‘Make mine a Smutty’ harbour seal, their beers usually pack a punch – and their double bock S’muttonator is no exception. Started by Peter Egelston, the brewery are currently trying to build larger premises in the town of Hampton, but are struggling with red tape. A few of their beers in the right hands should do the trick…

What They Say
” S’muttonator is a tasty mixture of German ingredients and good ol’ fashioned New England tenaciousness. Our brewers take 30 hours to brew a single batch of this traditional Double Bock. Take your time and enjoy its rich, malty, and deceptively smooth flavor.” [Official Website]

What We Say
Richard – Sweet hot chocolate, it hides the alcohol really well
MrB – Sweet is the anti-MrB – but this pulls it all back
Shovels – Could be really bad but is actually really great 8
Grooben – One of the sweetest I’ve had, but really nice 8

– (clockwise from top left) Grooben, MrB, Shovels, Richard

BeerCast panel verdict
Cambridge The Audacity of Hops 35/40
Smuttynose S’muttonator 33/40
New England Brewing Sea Hag IPA 31/40
Sixpoint Bengali Tiger 25½/40

  • Listen to the episode on Soundcloud here:

Please keep those comments and emails coming in, and check back in a couple of weeks for our next podcast. We have four beers from one of Scotland’s newest micro-breweries to review, plus there’s the Black IPA BeerCast waiting to be recorded. Or we might find another load of beers to put out…stay tuned! Many thanks, of course, to MrB for bringing these beers home. Incidentally, he’s now in Germany for four weeks…

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