Double Baggin’ It

Long Trail Double Bag (7.2 ABV bottle)- Altbier- Long Trail Brewing Co., VT
Grade: A- BREW OF THE BLOG!

Poured into an imperial pint.

Appearance: Crystal clear, chestnut brown with amber touches. Inch thick off-white head settles to a thin covering with nice lacing. A really good looking beer.

Smell: Subdued aroma. Some floral notes and hop twang. Alcohol in the back.

Mouthfeel: Full bodied, but not thick. Slightly dry finish. Nice mild alcohol warmth.

Taste: Very nice balance between hop bitterness and biscuity malt. Some sweetness and alcohol spice.

Drinkability: Very smooth and quaffable.

Overall: This brew doesn’t drink like you would think a 7.2 ABV would. Double Bag is a solid yet subtle beer. Some might dismiss it because there’s nothing really over the top about it, but that’s why I like it. Sometimes you need a beer that is well crafted but not a test of your mouth’s endurance to drink. This is a balanced beer that is far from boring and is very drinkable. If you come across this either in a pub or liquor store do yourself a favor and give it a try. Just watch out for that ABV; it will sneak up on you. 

Kudos to Long Trail for another winning brew. 

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Jan/Feb Quick Hits

Lack of Internet at home combined with the seasonal upswing at work have left me little time to update with any length or depth. I still wanted to get some beers up so here’s some brief notes on brews that passed my way lately.  

Export Ale (5.1% ABV bottle)- American Pale Ale- Shipyard Brewing Co., ME
Grade: C-
     I’ve had this beer before. Many times. It’s a chameleon. If it’s the first beer I have in a session, no food, just straight to it, it tastes OK. Not a lot to write home about, except for a bit of butteriness underneath its general beer taste that is intriguing an yet a little off putting. No real hops bitterness. If I drink it after something else or after I’ve eaten, it tastes a bit sour like sweat. Basically unpleasant. And yet I still drink it.

Long Trail Hibernator (6.0% ABV bottle)- Scottish Ale- Long Trail Brewing Company, VT
Grade: C+
     Drinkable, but not exactly enticing. Though it is pretty when poured; a nice ruby-tinged brown. Taste is fairly middling. I don’t see myself grabbing this from the store again when it shows up next winter, but if someone handed me one I wouldn’t turn my nose up at it.

Mayflower Pale Ale (? ABV draft)- American Pale Ale- Mayflower Brewing Company, MA
Grade: C+
     Mayflower is a new brewery to MA so I figured I’d have a got at it. Yep, it’s a pale ale. Not bad, but not great either. We’ll see what else this brewery can bring to the table in the future. Hopefully something with a bit more presence.

Stoudt’s Scarlet Lady Ale (5% draft)- Extra Special/Strong Bitter (ESB)- Stoudt’s Brewing Co., PA
Grade: B-
     I’m not real familiar with ESBs, but this Scarlet Lady didn’t strike me as anything all that fancy. Kind of a standard micro brew ale. Not overly hopped, but not completely bland either. A beer to drink without having to think about it.

Weihenstephaner Hefeweissbier Dunkel (5.3% ABV bottle)- Dunkelweizen- Brauerei Weihenstephan, GER
Grade: A+
     As if a hefe couldn’t get any better, it’s dunkel (dark) cousin has a touch more malt than the traditional making one of my favorite styles of beer even more drinkable. Love this stuff. Highly recommended!

Bananas for Long Trail Hefeweizen?

Long Trail Hefeweizen (bottle)- American Pale Wheat Ale/Hefeweizen- Long Trail Brewing Company, VT, USA
Grade: B+ 
     The first thing that hits you is the incongruous fruity smell wafting from Long Trail Hefeweizen. As you pour there is the unmistakable smell of ripe bananas which your brain refuses to accept. Alas it is the truth: Long Trail’s hefe just happens to smell a lot like bananas with a tang of lemony citrus and earthy yeast underneath. Of course smell and taste being so closely intertwined the banana is still there in the front when you take your first few sips confusing the taste buds, but that’s not to say it is overpowering. No, it’s just out of the norm so your brain keeps coming back to it, but by the time you are through the first quarter of your beer everything settles down into balance and you will find the notes you expect from an American wheat/hefes: hints of clove, lemony zest, and yeast with a nice bit of crispness at the finish. 
     There’s solid flavor to the Long Trail though it does lack complexity and its mouth feel is a bit on the thin side. Those minor slights aside, this would be a nice session beer (I envision this being my go-to grilling beer come summer), but those slips keep the Long Trail Hefeweizen from the “Duuuude, you’ve gotta try this!” category.
     Overall, I’m thankful I stumbled onto Long Trail’s hefe in the cooler at Woody’s. It won’t steal any thunder from the upper echelon wheat/hefes, but it’s a solid brew that in my ranking I’d put in the second tier just ahead of Blue Moon and Harpoon’s UFO.

Find it, try it.

Cheers! -John