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Hill Farmstead Sue

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An overdue recap of Operation Cheddar VI: Night of the Living Cheddar (my latest foray into Vermont hunting for beer) is on its way, but in the meantime, let's look at a beer I drank in anticipation of that momentous undertaking.

Sue is a wine barrel-aged version of Susan, which is one of Hill Farmstead's trademark bright, juicy, tropical fruity IPAs. This is... not the most likely candidate for extended aging. However, after two years in the barrels, the beer picks up lots of wine character and lemony tartness, making it much better than what an "aged IPA" would normally conjure.

So let's get dressed up all in black, head over to San Quentin, and drink a beer named Sue*. "My name is 'Sue!' How do you do!?"

Hill Farmstead Sue

Hill Farmstead Sue - Pours a yellowish golden color with a solid finger of long lived head. Smells quite nice, oak, vinous fruit, lemons, and sneaking in the background are some of those dank, faded hops (very delicate aroma, it works). Taste has a nice sweetness to it, tons of that vinous fruit, wine, lemons, a bit of earthy funk, almost no sign of hops until well into the finish. MOuthfeel is medium bodied, crisp, and effervescent, with a relatively dry finish. Overall, much better than its description would imply - it feels like a solid, complex saison rather than an IPA (I'll slap the American Wild Ale label on this one, but you could easily call it a saison). A-

Beer Nerd Details: 7% ABV bottled (750 ml). Drank out of a charente glass on 7/28/17. Bottled: 2017 05 11.

Many thanks to Kaedrin beverage compatriot Dana for picking this up on her own invasion of Vermont recently. Several more Hill Farmstead offerings to come, as well as a full recap of Operation Cheddar VI, so stick around.

* Get it? Screaming hot Johnny Cash reference here. Somewhere I have a list of potential beer names, and one of them was A Beer Named Sue. I mean, not "Sue" (like the above beer) but literally "A Beer Named Sue". I have no idea what it will be, and at my current rate of 1 batch per year it may be a while, but I will brew a beer and call it that. Someday.

The Veil Quadrupel Feature (Again)

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The Veil occupies an interesting space in my beer consumption. I will gladly partake whenever I get a chance, but so far, I am unlikely to make the four hour (one way) trip to Virginia to hit up a release. Of course, I'm also unlikely to make the thirty minute trip to Tired Hands for a release, so that's the context here. Fortunately, I know people, and through their generosity, I sometimes bag a few cans of this stuff. Last time, we got somewhat uneven results. This time, we're remarkably consistent, but nothing really melting my face either. A nice mixture of styles though, and it made for a nice weekend of drinking:

The Veil Coalesce

The Veil Coalesce - Czech style Pilsner and someday I'll be able to tell the difference between Czech and German Pilsners blind, but alas, that day is not today - Pours a slightly hazy golden yellow color with a finger of white, fluffy head. Smells of earthy, spicy, floral hops. Taste hits those same hop notes, spicy, grassy, floral, with a hint of bready malt, finishing clean. Mouthfeel is well carbonated, light bodied, and crisp. Overall, solid little Pilsner that's a welcome change of pace from all these IPAs I've been downing. B+

Beer Nerd Details: 5.5% ABV canned (16 ounce pounder). Drank out of a willibecher glass on 7/21/17. Canned: 07/11/17.

The Veil Snozzwired

The Veil Snozzwired - This is The Veil's session chocolate milk stout Snozzwanger conditioned on a bunch of Lamplighter Coffee Roasters espresso - Pours ridiculously dark, one of the blackest beers I've seen, with just a cap of brown head that doesn't stick around long. Smells of deep roast coffee, roasted malt, dark chocolate, did I mention roasty? Taste is, yes, extremely roasty, spent coffee grounds, a little bitterness from that roast, hints of dark chocolate taking a back seat to, you guessed it, roast. Mouthfeel is medium bodied (more than you'd think), well carbonated, relatively dry, doesn't really drink like a 4.4% ABV beer, but it doesn't feel like a big imperial bruiser either. Overall, it's solid, but my general lack of coffee enthusiasm has its downsides. B

Beer Nerd Details: 4.4% ABV canned (16 ounce pounder). Drank out of a snifter on 7/22/17. Canned: 07/11/17.

The Veil Henry From Monkish

The Veil Henry From Monkish - IPA made with Galaxy and Simcoe in honor of Henry Nguyen of Monkish brewing, who, if this can is any indication, is a frost giant from the Thor movies - Pours a turbid, murky orange yellow color with a solid finger of white, fluffy head that has good retention and leaves some lacing. Smells great, typical NEIPA juicy citrus hops, mango, tropical fruit. Taste again hits those South Pacific citrus hop notes (guessing Galaxy here), lots of mango and tropical fruit, finishing with a bit of a bitter bite. Mouthfeel is low to medium bodied, ample carbonation, relatively dry. Could perhaps use a hint more heft, but otherwise this is overall pretty damn nice! B+

Beer Nerd Details: 5.9% ABV canned (16 ounce pounder). Drank out of a tulip glass on 7/22/17. Canned: 07/10/17.

The Veil Broz Night Out

The Veil Broz Night Out - An imperial version of The Veil's low ABV Citra IPA Broz Day Off - Pours a similar turbid, murky orange yellow color with a finger of white fluffy head, good retention, and some lacing. Smells of sugary sweet citrus, like candied fruit, with some floral notes and maybe even some of that booze. Taste is sweet and citrusy, with plenty of floral hops too, juicy, and a little boozy. Mouthfeel is well carbonated, almost creamy, medium bodied, a little sticky nonetheless, and hints of booze. Overall, rock solid DIPA. I tend to like them with a little less booze, but this is nice. B+

Beer Nerd Details: 9% ABV canned (16 ounce pounder). Drank out of a tulip glass on 7/23/17. Canned: 07/10/17.

Many thanks to fellow beer nerd Sheik for being a great American and trading me these cans.

Tree House Julius

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Oh brother, another top tier Northeast IPA. How big is this tier!? Look, this is definitely one of those tiny breweries with high demand and thus ridiculous hype, so I'd love to be able to wave you off of this stuff, but damn, it seems that the top tier can accommodate this one. Structural integrity appears to be holding.

This is a NEIPA apparently inspired by "Trader Joe's Unsulfured Just Mango Slices" and made with copious, unspecified hops (not sure what the big secret is, my guess: Citra). Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your beers. All hail Caesar! Or at least Julius.

Tree House Julius

Tree House Julius - Pours an opaque, murky orange yellow color with a finger of white, tight bubbled head that sticks around a while and leaves lacing as I drink. Smells great, huge waft of juicy citrus, grapefruit, orange, with some dank pine lurking in the background. Taste hits those citrus hops hard, a little more floral here, but juicy citrus is the driver, with a nice dry bitterness in the finish. Mouthfeel is very well carbonated, tight, crisp, medium bodied, very well balanced, and relatively dry, making this utterly quaffable. Very flavorful but not a palate-wrecker. Overall, well shit, it's living up to the hype. A

Beer Nerd Details: 6.8% ABV canned (16 ounce pounder). Drank out of a tulip glass on 7/15/17. Canned 07/06/17. Batch: I'VE BEEN TOLD TO EXPECT IT.

A good beer to drink in July. Many thanks to Kaedrin friend Danur for the can! I obviously need moar.

Exhibit 'A' The Cat's Meow

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It seems like I've been covering this sort of thing a lot lately. What do you know, a new Northeast brewery that I've never heard of making great IPAs, will wonders never cease? This is far from Exhibit 'A' in the ongoing trial of the People vs. Northeast IPA (both in timeframes and quality), but it's probably a worthwhile exhibit that is worth pursuing if you're in Massachusetts and feel doing some courtroom sketching or something.

Objection! Speculation. Overruled... but I better be going somewhere with this.

And I am: This appears to be a flagship IPA of sorts, a relatively straightforward NEIPA made with Citra, Mosaic and El Dorado hops. Your Honor, I present The Cat's Meow:

Listen, I inadvertently took a picture of the back of the can, which shows the cats ass and tail and I want to pretend like thats cool and everything and that I totally meant to do that but in reality I did not. I know you are not really reading this though, so it is probably not an issue. Or maybe it is. Oh no, what have I done.

Exhibit 'A' The Cat's Meow - Pours a hazy yellow orange color with a finger of head that has good retention and leaves some lacing. Smells nice, tropical citrus and dank pine hops. Taste is sweet, with that mango citrus hop character coming through in the middle, followed by some more dank flavors and a little bitterness in the finish. Mouthfeel is well carbed, medium bodied, pretty easy going. This was great when I first poured it, but seemed to lose a little steam as I drank. Overall, this is a good IPA. Not quite top tier, but if I lived in Framingham, MA, it'd be a solid go-to (perhaps at intervals with lagers from that other Framingham brewery, Jack's Abby). Worth checking in on if you're in the area. B

Beer Nerd Details: 6.5% ABV canned (16 ounce pounder). Drank out of a snifter glass on 7/16/17. Canned: 6/29/17 (I think? Hard to read...)

Pretty good for right now. Dammit, I should have said "right meow", what's wrong with me?

Burley Oak Quadruple Feature

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Every summer, I find myself vacationing in Ocean City, Maryland. I'm not one of those people who go to the beach every weekend (I don't like sand. It's coarse and rough and irritating and it gets everywhere. /Vader), but I enjoy it every once in a while, and it's a way to get out of my Philly rut in many ways. Including beer! A couple of years ago I discovered Burley Oak Brewing, just a hop and a skip away in Berlin, MD, and it just so happened that this year's OCMD trip perfectly coincided with a can release of four different beers.

Such releases come in many flavors. There are infamous national attractions, like Dark Lord day, that are more like festivals, but the grand majority of releases at most breweries tend to be relatively mellow affairs. You maybe go a little early and wait in line, but often even that level of committment isn't needed. Then there is a kooky tier of relatively small breweries that nevertheless generate an insane demand. Local Kaedrin favorite Tired Hands falls into that category, and while their releases have calmed down somewhat on the whole, they still get insane for certain beers (notably Milkshake variant cans and Parageusia bottles). There are some other PA breweries that generate a lot of angst over releases (i.e. Voodoo, Bullfrog, etc...) but in general, these are the events that make the normals think that beer nerds are degenerates (and, well, they're not wrong).

All of which is to say, I was expecting something akin to a low-level Tired Hands release for this Burley Oak event (i.e. people in line, but nothing bonkers). A friend cautioned me to get there two hours early, which was certainly a surprise for me. I've had a bunch of Burley Oak beer in the past, but with all due respect, nothing that warranted this sort of crazy. Then again, a big release of popular beers on a holiday weekend is just asking for trouble. Fortunately, the timing of my independently planned departure from OCMD perfectly aligned with that recommendation, so that's what ended up happening. And I'm glad it did, because that line got all kinds of stupid as time went on (it basically encircled the entire brewery and parking lot). Let's dive in:

Burley Oak 100

Burley Oak 100 - Double IPA tripple dry-hopped with Mosaic and named after an emoticon? My kinda stupid. - Pours a murky golden yellow color with a finger of white, dense head. Smells nice, lots of tropical fruit, mangoes, pineapple, and the like. Taste follows the nose, lots of tropical fruit, juicy citrus stuff, mild finish. Mouthfeel is medium bodied, well but tightly carbonated. Overall, this is the best Burley Oak IPA I've had, it compares favorably to the typical NEIPA purveyors, worth waiting in line. And I've had a couple more of these over the past couple of weeks and damn, it's only grown in my estimation. A

Beer Nerd Details: 8.5% ABV canned (16 ounce pounder). Drank out of a tulip glass on 7/1/17. Canned: 7/1/17 (nailed it!)

Burley Oak Blueberry Strawberry J.R.E.A.M.

Burley Oak Blueberry Strawberry J.R.E.A.M. - Sour ale with lactose conditioned on blueberries and strawberries. Incidentally, the acronym stands for "Juice Rules Everything Around Me", just in case you were wondering. - Pours a cloudy but bright, almost luminous maroon color with a finger of bubbly head that doesn't last long. Smells of bright citrus and a little Berliner-like twang. Taste is very sweet, those strawberries an blueberries coming through in a sorta generic jammy way (not sure I'd pick them both blind, but I might get one), a nice lactic tartness pervades, especially in the finish. Mouthfeel is medium to full bodied, well carbonated, moderate to high acidity, but nothing untoward. Overall, a nice little tart ale here, though it kinda begs for oak. B

Beer Nerd Details: 4.8% ABV canned (16 ounce pounder). Drank out of a flute glass on 7/1/17. Released: 7/1/17 (nailed it!)

Burley Oak Apricot Raspberry J.R.E.A.M.

Burley Oak Apricot Raspberry J.R.E.A.M. - Sour ale with lactose conditioned on apricots and raspberries. - Pours a cloudy but bright reddish orange color with a finger of quickly dissipating head. Smells more of raspberry than apricot, jammy, a little of that lactic funk. Taste hits that raspberry pretty hard (with hints of apricot, but again, I doubt I'd be able to place that blind), very sweet, jammy, with a little less sourness, though it's still pretty puckering. Mouthfeel is rich, medium to full bodied, well carbonated, less acid than the other variant, but still moderate to high. Overall, I like this better than the blueberry/strawberry, but it still sorta begs for some oak to leaven things a little. B+

Beer Nerd Details: 4.8% ABV canned (16 ounce pounder). Drank out of a charente glass on 7/2/17. Released: 7/1/17.

Burley Oak Coffee N' Cream

Burley Oak Coffee N' Cream - Cream ale with Burley Oak's house made cold brew coffee. Hey look, this is apparently the first time I've written about a cream ale. Score? - Pours a clear golden color with a finger of white head. Smells strongly of roast coffee and not much else. Taste hits that coffee flavor pretty hard too, an underlying sweetness peeks out a bit too. Mouthfeel is medium bodied, well carbonated, and easy to drink. Overall, this is not a beer for coffee-ambivalents like myself, but if you do like coffee, you may enjoy. For me, I'll give it a C+ because I'm the worst.

Beer Nerd Details: 5.1% ABV canned (16 ounce pounder). Drank out of a tulip glass on 7/3/17. Released on 7/1/17.

So there you have it. I probably won't be going to far out of my way for these releases, but there is that annual trip to OCMD, so there's always a chance!

Interboro Premiere IPA

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Interboro Spirits & Ales continues NYC's beer renaissance. Less than a year old and I feel like they've joined their neighbors like Other Half, SingleCut, and Grimm (amongst others) as brewers to keep an eye on. Not to shabby for a region that used to be a bit of a wasteland for good beer (if my last trip to NYC a few months ago is any indication, they are greatly improved on all fronts, though still not where you'd expect for a city that big).

Premiere IPA is a well executed, clean, straightforward take on the style, but hopping it with Citra, Mosaic, and Galaxy certainly gives it a sheen that beer nerds can latch onto:

Interboro Premiere IPA

Interboro Spirits & Ales Premiere IPA - Pours a hazy pale yellow color with a finger of fluffy white head that sticks around for a while. Great aroma of tropical citrus with some floral notes and a hint of pine in the background. Taste isn't quite as intense as the aroma, but it's got that same citrus and floral one/two punch, with a nice light but dry bitterness in the finish. Mouthfeel is perfectly carbed, light to medium bodied, moderately dry, quaffable. Overall, this is one damn fine IPA. Not a NEIPA, but not everything has to be, you know? A-

Beer Nerd Details: 6% ABV canned (16 ounce pounder). Drank out of a tulip glass on 7/3/17.

NYC is killing it. Many thanks to fellow Beer Nerd Pete for gifting this can to me. Who knows if or when I'll get more, but I'll certainly be keeping my eyes open for moar of their wares.

Barrel of Monks Monk de Soleil

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I was impressed by Florida's Barrel of Monks when I sampled their Three Fates Tripel last year and have finally managed to procure more of their wares. Their wheelhouse appears to be straightforward Belgian styles or Trappist ales that don't inspire as much beer nerd enthusiasm as freaky sours or barrel-aged pastry stouts and the like. I'm as guilty of this as anyone, but it is genuinely nice to take a step back and try a straightforward Belgian Tripel or Dubbel. So when these two bottles came my way, I was ready.

First up is actually something a little more trendy that might twixt beer dorks' nethers more than the straightforward stuff. Monk de Soleil (Monk of the Sun?) certainly starts off as a simple Belgian Pale Ale, but it then undergoes a secondary fermentation with added Brettanomyces Bruxellensis and then endures some dry-hopping. This collaboration with 7venth Sun Brewery certainly hits that funky sweet spot that beer geeks crave:

Barrel of Monks Monk de Soleil

Barrel of Monks Monk de Soleil - Pours a cloudy golden orange color with lots of head that sticks around for a bit. Smells fantastic, great earthy funk mixed with fruity esters and a little clove. Taste hits that funky Brett note pretty well, plenty of spicy phenols, a little bit of that fruit. Mouthfeel is highly carbonated, crisp, and effervescent, highly attenuated and dry. Overall, this is a great little Brett beer. A

Beer nerd Details: 7% ABV bottled (750 ml). Drank out of a charente glass on 6/24/17. Released 4/29/17.

Next, we've got a humble Belgian Dubbel. Not much else to it, except that like their Tripel, this is a very well executed take on a style most American brewers don't even try, let alone do well...

Barrel of Monks Abbey Terno

Barrel of Monks Abbey Terno - Pours a dark amber brown color with a couple fingers of fluffy, big bubbled head that sticks around for a bit. Smells nice, that trademark dubbel raisins and fruity esters, spicy phenols, clove. Taste has a great sweet and spicy character, a little caramelized dark fruit, raisins, plums, maybe a hint of toast in the background. Mouthfeel is highly carbonated, crisp, and effervescent, highly attenuated, relatively dry, making this dangerously quaffable. Overall, rich, c omplex, again one of the better American takes on a vaunted, traditional Belgian style. A-

Beer nerd Details: 7.5% ABV bottled (750 ml). Drank out of a teku glass on 6/27/17.

So these folks are 3 for 3. Not necessarily lighting the beer world on fire with trendy stuff, but I really appreciate the well executed Belgian styles.

Civil Society Double Feature

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It's a story as old as time. Or, like, 30 years. Something like that. Beer drinkers get fed up with expensive non-local beer, start homebrewing, get good at it, recognize the lack of a local brewing scene, and resolve to start up their own brewery.

Jupiter, Florida, probably most famous for housing a few baseball teams' spring training facilities, now has a growing hophead scene thanks to Civil Society brewing. When Kaedrin friend and beverage compatriot Steve moved to Florida, he was a little disappointed by the IPA scene (especially having been a fan of the vaunted Northeast IPA), but since these fellas have shown up, he's been having a better time of it. Let's dive into a couple of their common offerings, for a hoppy society is no doubt a civil society:

Civil Society Fresh

Civil Society Fresh - Pours a cloudy, pale yellow color with a finger or two of white, tight head. Smells great, lots of juicy citrus, a little pine. Taste is sweet, juicy, fruity, citrus hops, a little pine, just enough bitterness in the finish. Mouthfeel is medium bodied, well carbonated, quaffable. Overall, one damn fine NEIPA. A-

Beer Nerd Details: 6.2% ABV canned (16 ounce pounder). Drank out of a tulip glass on 6/23/17. No date on can, but I am assured that it was 1-2 weeks old.

Civil Society Blondes Make Me Hoppy

Civil Society Blondes Make Me Hoppy (Citra) - Bonus points for not putting a buxom blonde woman on the label! Pours a cloudy pale yellow color with a few fingers of fluffy white head that leaves a bit of lacing. Smells great, lots of citrus and a more floral component than Fresh. Taste hits that citrus and floral hop note hard, finishes with a more bitter bite. Mouthfeel is light bodied, well carbonated, crushable. Overall, a damn fine sessionable hop bomb. B+

Beer Nerd Details: 4.9% ABV canned (16 ounce pounder). Drank out of a tulip glass on 6/24/17. No date on can, but I am assured that it was 1-2 weeks old.

These are not the first Civil Society beers I've had, and they hopefully won't be the last. In the same league with the latest wave of NEIPA brewers, for sure.

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