Of the holy triumvirate of Vermont brewers, Lawson’s Finest Liquids seems to be the smallest and most obscure. The Alchemist puts out a ton of Heady every week (that it sells out every week is another matter, but they’re still at least a couple orders of magnitude bigger than Lawson’s), and Hill Farmstead manages to distribute the occasional keg to Philly, meaning that they seem to have something to spare every now and again. The same cannot be said for Lawson’s. When I made my trek to Vermont the other day, the Warren Store had received 19 cases of Double Sunshine IPA, 16 of which had sold by the time I arrived at about 10:30 am. As near as I can tell, this is a weekly occurrence. As of a few years ago, Lawson’s capacity was two 1 bbl batches a week, which is absolutely minuscule by industry standards (even craft standards), almost like a slightly scaled up homebrewing operation. I suspect that Sean Lawson has increased capacity since then, but it’s still tiny.
All of which is to say that I’m pretty fortunate to have snagged a few bottles of this gem, a Double IPA that is prized like few others. It holds the #12 slot on Beer Advocate’s top beers list with sky high ratings and plenty of ISOs. It’s so popular that Lawson’s has declared August “Double Sunshine Month” and is distributing nothing but Double Sunshine all month. Details on the brew are a bit sparse, but I’m guessing a significant presence of Citra hops, that most hallowed of trendy hops. Let’s see how it fares:
Lawson’s Finest Liquids Double Sunshine IPA – Pours a mostly clear golden orange color with a finger or two of white, fluffy head that fades quickly but leaves plenty of lacing. Smell is filled with herbal, floral, grassy, and citrus hop aromas, quite nice and complex. Taste follows the nose, very sweet with tons of hop character, plenty of those grassy, floral notes along with pleasant citrus, followed by a light, balancing bitterness towards the finish. Mouthfeel is smooth and velvety, medium bodied, tight carbonation, refreshing, almost quaffable (well, I’m drinking it pretty damn quickly). No real evidence of booze here at all. Would be great to drink out in the sun (or, uh, double sun). Overall, yep, it’s fantastic beer. A complex array of aromas and flavors that are mostly due to just the hops, which is awesome. Top tier stuff. A-
Beer Nerd Details: 8% ABV bottled (22 oz. bomber). Drank out of an Only Void snifter on 8/23/13.
With my first taste, Lawson’s Finest Liquids lives up to their name (which I love) and proves themselves worthy of the excessive detour. I will gladly go far out of my way to get some more of their stuff, and you’ll definitely be hearing more about these folks in the future. Hopefully the near future, but damn, Vermont is far away!