Every year the Brewers Association releases a list of the nation’s 50 fastest growing breweries.
The 2017 list, which was released back in April, features breweries from 25 different states and, today, I have brews from two of those fifty. So, if you haven’t heard of these guys yet…here’s your chance.
First up, a Tennessean brewery that’s making some noise.
Hutton & Smith (not to be confused with Sutton Smith of NIU…and yes, the similarity between the names might have been one of the reasons I purchased this beer) opened up in Chattanooga, Tennessee back in 2015. Joel and Melanie Krautstrunk, who opened the brewery, are big into rocks; Joel was/is an avid rock climber while Melanie has a master’s degree in geology, so it made sense that they named their brewery after the fathers of modern geology (James Hutton and William Smith).
Right now they only distribute beer throughout Tennessee but, in April, they just snuck onto that list and were named the 50th fastest growing brewery in the in the US by the Brewers Association.
Today I have for you their year-round New England-style IPA, The Promenade, which is brewed using four hop varieties. A six-pack runs $11, so it’s not too bad, with each can containing a solid 6.7% ABV.
The Promenade poured a very murky burnt orange color, the perfect color for a New England-style IPA, with about a finger of slightly off-white head. The foam quickly fizzled down to just ring around the edge of the glass with a dusting across the top.
On the nose, this brew was super tropical and juicy with just a hint of bitterness that stung my nostrils slightly. Pineapple, mango, grapefruit, and orange lead the way in the aroma with notes of wheat and oat underneath the fruit.
My first sip began with a rush of carbonation that quickly made way for those tropical fruit flavors. Up front it was loads of pineapple with mango, passion fruit, and orange following closely behind.
After the initial burst of flavors there was a quick lull in the citrus flavors as a malty sweetness slipped in with a cereal-like wheaty/oaty quality.
However, the hops quickly regained control of the sip and stormed back with an additional surge of tropical fruit. A light bitter sting hit the back of my tongue as the new wave of grapefruit, orange, and pineapple washed across my taste buds.
Once this beer began to warm up some the flavors became even more fruity. The juicy, tropical flavors popped even more while the light bitterness and cereal aspect disappeared almost completely.
As the flavors began to slowly fade away, The Promenade ended mostly clean. All that remained was a grapefruit/orange peel flavor and a tiny amount of dryness lingering on my tongue.
This was a really nice NE-style IPA. Juicy, tropical, and not too bitter. But, for as tasty as it was, there was nothing outstanding about it - just a really good, easy to drink brew that, if you can find it, is well worth the cost.
Up next is a southern brewery that’s been making some big strides as of late – Gate City.
Gate City comes from Roswell…not the alien infested one in New Mexico but rather Roswell, Georgia, a suburb of Atlanta and the eighth largest city in the state.
Two friends opened up Gate City back in 2015 and, since that time, they have experienced rapid growth. So much so that the Brewers Association has them listed as the 21st fastest growing brewery in the US.
Today I have their year-round “juicy IPA”, Aww Juice!!!. While I cannot find what hops/malts were used in the making of this brew, I do know that a four-pack of 16-ounce cans runs $14 (a tad higher than normal) and each can has a decent 7% ABV and 30 IBU.
Awe Juice!!! poured a super murky orangey/copper color with minimal head. No more than a finger of tan foam ever showed up and quickly faded down into a small accumulation around the edge of the glass and not much else.
The aroma was straight up amazing – sweet, tropical, and super juicy. Big and bold notes of grapefruit, mango, papaya, and orange filled the air. Hiding behind the fruit was some dank hoppy notes of pine and a malted barley characteristic as well. But it certainly smelled quite juicy and tasty.
My first swig began with just a tiny tingle of carbonation and a thicker, slightly heavier mouthfeel. Initially it was the hops kicked in with a bitter bite and some tropical fruit flavors. Lemon, grapefruit, and mango started it all off with a biscuity malt backbone and hints of pine.
As the flavor progresses light caramel notes mix into the taste but it’s the hops that still control the taste. Characteristics of pineapple, honeydew melon, and even a hint of berries kicked in midway through but it was still mostly the bitter grapefruit and mango that lead the way.
As Awe Juice!!! began to fade out there was some residual flavors left on my tongue. It was mostly a sticky, dry resinous flavor that had a grapefruit rind bitterness attached to it and lingered on well after the sip had ended.
Overall, this was a decent “juicy IPA”. While it started off with an amazing aroma and big, bold juicy notes, as the beer progressed it lost that juiciness and became really sticky and drier than most.
Gate City has a lot of beers to offer and I hope to find more of their brews soon. But, as for this one, it’s more West Coast IPA than juicy IPA. Not that it’s a bad brew just a dry, sticky IPA that I was expecting more from.
If you’re a hop head, then you’ll enjoy this one too. I just hoped for more after the aroma and the name.