220. Stone Ruination IPA

The third beer from Ebenezer’s Pub draft list and probably my favorite of the afternoon. Should not be a surprise as I really like the double IPAs. Pour is a nice light orange with single finger white head. Tons of aromas coming from this one; mostly hops – pine, tropical fruit and only a hint of sweet malts. Taste mirrors the smell with the sweet malts up front and then the hops kick in and do no stop. Loads of fruity hop flavors here and a nice dry finish which only makes you want more. Alcohol content is hidden well in the complexity of the beer. This one went down easy after lunch and left me feeling quite good.
Pros: Loads of hop flavor
Alcohol Content: 7.7% ABV
Calories: ???
IBU (Bitterness): ??
Rating:  ★★★★☆
Brewers Website: Stone Brewing
Brewers Description: So called because of the “ruinous” effect on your palate! This massive hop monster has a wonderfully delicious and intensely bitter flavor on a refreshing malt base. One taste and you can easily see why we call this brew “a liquid poem to the glory of the hop!” Those who seek, crave and rejoice in beers with big, bold, bitter character will find true nirvana in Stone Ruination IPA!

219. Thornbridge Raven Black IPA

This is another one enjoyed at Ebenezer’s Pub in Lovell, ME. Not sure it is actually from Thornbridge as I do not recall it listing the brewery on the menu. If someone from Ebenezer’s happens across this post please let me know and I will update accordingly.
Appearance is nearly black with slight tan head. Aroma has more malt than hops and is fairly subtle overall. Taste goes in the opposite direction with lots of hops with some hints of dark malts; chocolate, coffee that lingers a bit. Overall a quality black IPA but as I mentioned in my prior review of the Pitch Black IPA from Widmer I still prefer a nice double IPA to the new black IPAs coming on the market.
Pros: Great dark color
Alcohol Content: 6.6% ABV
Calories: ???
IBU (Bitterness): ??
Brewers Website: Thornbridge Brewery
Brewers Description: website does not appear to be working today.

218. Oxbow Saison Noel

Monday I made my first visit to Ebenezer’s Pub in Lovell, ME. I went with my wife, her sister and her husband and we were basically the only ones there which was surprising. They had 35 different beers on tap including the Oxbow Saison Noel which was great as I had not had a chance to try this one.
Appearance is a very dark almost black with some hints of red, minimal lacing on the glass and the aroma was full of dark fruit. Taste was complex with plenty of dark fruit flavors and a slight bitter finish. Definitely worth trying if you can find it somewhere or if they bring it back next year. Really enjoy the stuff from the guys in Newcastle.
Pros: Complex flavor
Cons: Hard to find
Alcohol Content: 7.0% ABV
Calories: ???
IBU (Bitterness): ??
Brewers Website: Oxbow Beer
Brewers Description:
Mash:   Wheat, US Pale, Peat Smoked, Crystal
Hops:    American
Fermentation:    Saison Yeast
Flavor Profile:   Wet Stone, Dark Fruit, Leather, and Tobacco

217. Sierra Nevada Pale Ale

This is only my third beer from Sierra Nevada but I still do not understand why so many love this brewery. Maybe I am just spoiled by great beer from small local breweries that I cannot get into these national filtered options from the likes of Sierra Nevada and Blue Moon. These may be great options to transition someone from the mass produced Buds, Miller and Coors to something closer to craft beer but for me they just do not measure up. I like my beer cloudy, hoppy and fresh.

The appearance of this one is a nice orange with a thick white head. Aroma is minimal with some malts up front and light citrus/pine notes at the end. Taste is slightly bitter with a good balance of malts and hops but nothing too special. Maybe if I had reviewed this before othe pale ales from Maine Beer Company, Hill Farmstead and Oxbow I would have been able to give this one a better score but it simply does not measure up to these small local brewer options.
Pros: Available everywhere
Cons:  Kind of bland
Alcohol Content: 5.6% ABV
Calories: ???
IBU (Bitterness): 37
Brewers Website: Sierra Nevada
Brewers Description: Our most popular beer, Sierra Nevada Pale Ale, is a delightful interpretation of a classic style. It has a deep amber color and an exceptionally full-bodied, complex character. Generous quantities of premium Cascade hops give the Pale Ale its fragrant bouquet and spicy flavor.

“Sierra Nevada Pale Ale is the flagship beer, the one that made Chico famous. It is a flawless beer that opens with bright, perky high notes of maltiness and orange blossom and segues into a delectable hoppiness.”

– Elaine Louie, Premier Beer—A Guide to America’s Best Bottled Microbrews

216. Widmer Brothers Pitch Black IPA

I am not really sure why the beer industry felt the need to create a black IPA but they did and I will drink them just like any other IPA. The theory is the black IPAs will blend the chocolate, coffee taste of the malts with the hops from the IPA but most I have tried are still hop heavy just darker than the normal IPA or DIPA.

The Widmer Pitch Black IPA follows this pouring a deep black with thin tan head, a very nice looking beer with only light aroma of citrus and pine. The second glass had a bit more malt smell as the beer had warmed slightly. Taste follows the smell with plenty of hops and a some malts coming through. Nothing too special here but a solid black IPA. Worth a try but don’t spend any time seeking out a bottle of it.
Pros: Appearance
Alcohol Content: 6.5% ABV
Calories: ???
IBU (Bitterness): 65
Brewers Website: Widmer Brothers
Brewers Description: Pitch black IPA takes you to the dark side with our take on Cascadian dark ale. Debittered black malt lends a midnight hue along with rich, toasty malt flavor. Generous doses of alchemy and cascade hops provide a complex herbal aroma and subtle citrus note, balanced perfectly by a smooth Widmer Brothers finish. Embrace the dark side.

215. Weyerbacher Double Simcoe IPA

I had high hopes for this one as I like double IPAs and Weyerbacher makes some very good beer. The bottle is very nice with cork and wire cage and it took me quite some time to actually get the cork out of the bottle. Could not find any bottle on date so I have no idea if this was fresh or had been around for a while. The appearance of the beer is great; unfiltered, huge head and a deep orange color. Lots of aroma with malts and hops which was surprising.

I figured it would be all hops as many DIPAs are. Taste is lots of hops and alcohol with an oily mouth feel. I had hoped for something a bit more balanced that masked the alcohol better. I have reviewed a lot of double IPAs in the past few months and this one will end up near the bottom of the list.
Pros: Appearance
Cons: Oily mouth feel, strong alcohol taste
Alcohol Content: 9% ABV
Calories: ???
IBU (Bitterness): ??
Brewers Website: Weyerbacher
Brewers Description: Double Simcoe IPA, 9.0% abv, is our incredible reward for Hopheads seeking the intense hop flavor in a Double IPA, without the harshness. It is brewed untilizing only the Simcoe hop variety. This hybrid hop, developed and trademarked by Select Botanicals Group, LLC in the year 2000, was created for its high alpha acid content, maximum aromatic oils, and low cohumulone(harshness) levels so that brewers can really put a lot of ‘em in a beer and not create an overly harsh taste.

Double Simcoe IPA is a full-flavored ale with hints of pineapple and citrus upfront, a good malt backbone in the middle, and a clean finish that doesn’t linger too long. Check it out, and you’ll soon see why everyone’s talking about it. Double Simcoe is available year-round.

214. Geary’s Summer Ale

The coolest thing about this beer is the contest they do each year for the label and packaging design. This year’s winner was from Vermont and there were many nice designs. You can see them all here. Personally I like #19 the best but this is certainly a brighter and more typical label for a summer brew.

Butter, that’s right butter is the one word I would use to describe this beer. Color is a nice light orange with thick white head. Light aroma including some sweet maltiness and a bit of fruit. Nothing to great in either the aroma or appearance. Taste is crisp but still buttery which seems odd to say.. Overall not a bad beer but the ABV may be a little high for a Summer brew.
Alcohol Content: 6.0% ABV
Calories: ???
IBU (Bitterness): ??
Brewers Website: Geary’s
Brewers Description: The style of our summer ale is traditionally European, similar to a German kolsch: full bodied with a spicy hop tang and a rich, crystal clear golden color.

213. Bar Harbor Lighthouse Ale

After work I was looking in my beer fridge wondering what to drink and my wife said “pick something I would like” so that quickly narrowed down the list of options; no double IPAs, stouts, porters, etc so I found my bottle of Bar Harbor Brewing Lighthouse Ale. This is a light ale with a very low 3.2% ABV and the perfect beer to share with my wife.

Appearance is a great orange color with minimal white head. Minimal aroma with hints of malt and hops but very mild. Taste follows the nose with hints of a lot of things but nothing that overpowers anything else. Very well balanced beer but also quite simple compared with many of the others I have reviewed. That is not necessarily a bad thing as my wife really enjoyed this beer.
Pros: Low ABV
Cons:  Low ABV (yes it can be both a pro and a con)
Alcohol Content: 3.2% ABV
Calories: ???
IBU (Bitterness): ??
Rating:  ★★★☆☆
Brewers Website: Bar Harbor Brewing
Brewers Description: According to the judges at the World Beer Championships, one of the world’s best English Mild Ales comes from the opposite side of the pond. Once you savor this ale’s rich, roasted malt flavors and subtle aromatic hops, you’ll agree.

WBC tasting notes
“Chestnut amber hue. Rich, deeply roasted malt aromas follow through on a smoky and malty palate that packs a lot of flavor. Finishes with a lingering hoppiness. An amazingly well crafted beer for such a modest alcohol level.”
“The best version of mild ale the judges have seen outside of Northern England.”

212. Alchemist Brewery Heady Topper

The Alchemist Heady TopperIf you live in New England and pay attention to the craft beer scene than I am sure you have heard of Heady Topper from The Alchemist Brewery in Vermont. After months of wanting to get my hands on this beer and almost making the 3+ hour drive from Maine to Vermont on at least one occasion I was able to get 2 4-packs sent to me from a fellow craft beer enthusiast in Vermont. I ended up giving one 4-pack to a follower of my blog (actually traded for a very tasty lunch at Run of the Mill) and split the second 4-pack with another follower of my blog (although we have not connected yet for him to receive his 2 cans). The other 2 cans were enjoyed after long days at work and I have to say this is one beer that lives up to the hype.

Appearance is unassuming but nice unfiltered orange color with slight head. The aroma makes up for the appearance with tons of citrus hops and a bit of pine, a truly great smelling beer. Taste is a bit more reserved than the smell but still has plenty of hops and some malts there to balance things out. This is what a DIPA should be with a fair amount of carbonation to help smooth things out and finishes dry making it very easy to drink and it does not drink like an 8% ABV beer. Really enjoyed this one, nice can with good artwork. Makes me want to visit Vermont so I can buy more.
Pros: Easy to drink, well balanced, hoppy!
Cons: Hard to get outside Vermont
Alcohol Content: 8% ABV
Calories: ???
IBU (Bitterness): 120
Rating:  ★★★★
Brewers Website: The Alchemist
Brewers Description: Is our double I.P.A.! Loaded with hops, this one will put hair on your chest.

211. Hill Farmstead Edward

(Updated 7/10/2012) – Last week I took a 3-day trip to Vermont and the mini-vacation was mostly about beer. We ended up visiting 6 breweries including Hill Farmstead on the way home. I bought 4 – 750 ml bottles of Edward and it is just as good as I remember it. This is a great beer from a great brewer just too bad we cannot get it in Maine.

(Original Post 4/7/2012) After months of reading about Hill Farmstead and Alchemist Heady Topper I finally received a package of beer from Vermont. One of the insurance brokerages I work with is based in Vermont and some of their employees came to a conference in Portland Maine on Tuesday and we were able to work out an exchange of some beer only distributed in Maine for some local Vermont beers including this one from Hill Farmstead. This is a smaller growler than those sold by Oxbow and others I have reviewed but it is fresh beer poured from a tap, just the way I like it.

Color is a very nice orange with a very small white head. The aromas are plentiful with lots of citrus and pine hops, one of the best smelling beers I have had. At 85 IBUs this one is probably closer to an IPA than a pale ale but it really does not matter what style it is as this is a great beer.
Pros: Easy to drink, well balanced, hoppy
Cons: Hard to get outside Vermont
Alcohol Content: 5.2% ABV
Calories: ???
IBU (Bitterness): 85
Rating:  ★★★★
Brewers Website: Hill Farmstead
Brewers Description: Edward (1917-2002) is our grandfather; Hill Farmstead Brewery rests upon the land that was once home to him and his five children. In his honor, this American Pale Ale is dutifully crafted from American malted barley, a plethora of American hops, our ale yeast and water from Edward’s well. It is unfiltered, naturally carbonated, and dry hopped. Aromatic and flowery, with impressions of citrus and pine, this is the ale that I dream to have shared with Edward.

Ingredients: Pale and Caramel malt; Cascade, Centennial, Chinook, Columbus, Simcoe, and Warrior hops; Ale Yeast, and our Well Water. 13ºP