Norm and I go on an East Coast kick this week as we bring you beers from New York and New Hampshire.
I'll start first with a special hoppy saison.
This generously hopped saison won't be around long, as it's a special brew from Smuttynose, who is celebrating their 21st year of making beer. So let me just say HAPPY BIRTHDAY! Or is it Hoppy Birthday?? Sorry...I'll just let myself out.
All puns aside, and since you're still reading, I guess I'll tell you about this beer. Smuttynose began, for those who can't/refuse to do math, back in 1994 in Hampton, New Hampshire. They have six year-round brews but love making season and special beers like this one. Most of the country (28 states) has access to their beers, including every MAC state, the entire East Coast, and Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, and California.
Spank pours a dark amber, almost orange color with about a finger of head that dissipates rather quickly for a saison.
The aroma of grapefruit, tangerine, other citrus flavors, and honey filled my nose with a tad bit of hops and some earthy malt undertones. The first try was a little bubbly from the carbonation but, after the fizz died down (which was pretty quick), it was a really smooth sample - the hops didn't overpower the malts at all. For a "butt-smackingly delicious hoppy saison" this beer hides the hops really well.
There is a nice balance of lemon, honey, and floral flavors peaking out. But there was so much more that just that...it's a quite complex brew. After having a few more sips, there were hints of pepper, spices, pine, wheat, and pear all ending with a slight grassy finish.
Spank, which brings a 7.8% ABV to the table, hides the alcohol really well. The many tastes all working in harmony to create a really easy to drink saison that is not too carbonated or yeasty.
The first half of the beer was more pale ale than farmhouse, however, the further down you drink the more Belgian-y and saison-ish it becomes...showing its true colors.
The 22-ounce bomber set me back $8.99 but, for a limited release brew like this, it was worth the price. To be perfectly honest, I bought this beer because of the cool bottle - a black matte finish with two red handprints making up the design. A matte finish makes everything look better...plus Huskie colors! How could I not buy it?!
But it turns out this beer has more than just a cool outfit (much like NIU)...it's a winner as well. The complex flavors and smoothness of Spank make it a really nice hybrid pale ale-saison. Celebrate Smuttynose's birthday by getting a bottle yourself (while you still can)! 8.5/10
Next up, Norm has a new style to share with you.
Always on the look out for any beer style I don't recall trying, I noticed a beer listed as a cream ale. Hmmm, don't really recall having a cream ale before. Sounds kind of like a desert or something extra sweet. Let's give it a go.
So I ended up with a beer by the name of Sweet Action, by Sixpoint Brewery out of Brooklyn, NY. It cost me $9.99 for a six pack of cans and a carries a mild 5.2% ABV.
Turns out this is a beer style that originated in the good ol' US of A. It's mostly an ale, but it's also a lager. It also happens to be mostly delicious but also easy to drink. While maybe not the most popular style, it's so easy to drink and enjoyable, I'm a little surprised it's not brewed more. If you've had a Spotted Cow, you've had a cream ale.
As cream ales tend to be, Sweet Action poured a vibrant copper color, contained a decent amount of carbonation, but don't leave much lacing.
The aroma was sweet - floral with just a faint hint of hops. There was plenty of caramel in there as well.
The taste is very appealing. Only a tad malty with biscuit on the front, yet still sweet. The citrus of the hops are there but they don't grab you. Nothing bitter, just mild ale flavor combined with a good lager base. Sweet, smooth, and, somehow, fun.
Now sometimes I can get carried away when finding a new beer I really like. So as to not go over board, I'm rating this 8/10. There would be no way most anyone would not like this beer. I'm going to try it again very soon to confirm that I think it's slightly better than an 8...but for now that's more than enough to recommend it.