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Belt’s Beer Garden: All Juiced Up

Harpoon’s Juicer 2 & Frost Beer Works’ Lushsicle

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Today I have a few New England-style brews to share with you.

First up, a Vermont brewery that’s grown a cult following - Frost Beer Works and a variation of one of their staple beers.

Frost Beer Works is a newer brewery situated in Hinesburg, Vermont. They opened back in 2015 and specialize in pale ales, IPAs, and DIPAs but occasionally with brew something else (like a blonde ale). Currently they only distribute in Vermont but hopefully other states will start seeing their beers soon.

Today I have a variant of their main-stay double IPA, Lush, called Lushsicle.

To get Lushsicle, they simply brewed Lush and then added a little bit of lactose to provide a sweeter, creamier feel to it. A four-pack of 16-ounce cans runs a little on the higher end, at $14, but each can does pack a very solid 8% ABV and has roughly 80 IBU.

This double IPA poured a really bright, slightly hazy dark orange color with just about a finger of quickly disappearing white head. The foam fizzled away incredibly quickly with the exception of a half inch of bubbles around the edge of the glass.

You could immediately smell why it was called Lushsicle…it had a super creamy, super soft aroma of tropical fruits, light hops, and just a dash of lactose sweetness. Mango, papaya, pineapple, and melon really stood out with just a hint of bitterness lingering on behind.

My first sample started with a very creamy, somewhat heavy, mouthfeel and a dash of fizzling carbonation.

From there the hops took control and provided a surprisingly strong bitter twinge that was accompanied by a very resinous pine flavor that somehow remained hidden in the smell.

The tropical fruit flavors battled it out with the resin and, about midway through, finally broke through and provided a plethora of citrus flavors like orange rind, mango, papaya, and some honeydew melon.

It was here that the addition of lactose really made a difference. There was a pop of sugary sweetness, orange rind, and some hoppiness that really made this brew taste like a bitter version of a Creamsicle.

As the flavors began to slowly fade away, it was the orange and saccharine sweetness that stuck it out the longest with the hoppy bitter bite that had settled at the back of my throat.

Lushsicle also finished relatively dry and sat kind of heavy, making it hard to drink this DIPA quickly. But, with a completely hidden 8% ABV, it’s probably for the best that these cans can’t be downed quickly.

Overall, this was a pretty solid double IPA. It had some really nice, albeit sweet, flavors with a moderately bitter characteristic and, actually, seemed to get better the more it warmed up. So best not to drink it too quickly.

It’s a little on the pricier side, but still a very solid DIPA…especially if you’re a fan of the new lactose/creamsicle IPAs.

Up next, from a place with two NE locations, Harpoon and their second take at a super juicy IPA.

Harpoon is one of the oldest independent breweries in the US, starting up back in 1986 when three friends who loved beer but were tired of the same few brews available at the time. They took matters in to their own hands and received Brewing Permit #001, first brewing permit in Massachusetts, and Harpoon officially opened in Boston in June of 1987.

Over the last 30 years they have grown and even opened up an expansion in Windsor, Vermont. Today you can find them in 25 states – the entire eastern US and Indiana, Louisiana, Minnesota, Ohio, Texas, and Wisconsin.

Today I have one of their newer brews – Juicer 2, a New England IPA made with a couple yet-to-be-named experimental hops. A 16-ounce can has a solid 6.6% ABV and 58 IBU with a four-pack of cans running about $11.

Juicer 2 poured a pretty hazy, quite bright orange color with just over a finger of pure white head forming. The bubbles don’t hang around too long and, with in a minute or so, all that’s left is a dusting across the top.

I was a little surprised by how subtle the aroma was here though. Of course, it had the typical characteristics of a NE IPA – sweet, tropical fruit with a light hop presence that almost resembled an adult juice box – but it was very muted and not nearly as prolific as most brews of this style. The few scents that I could pick up were that of mango, melon, grapefruit, and some berries.

On my first sip I was greeted with a sharp carbonated bite that quickly fizzled out and gave way to the flavors.

And, just as the smell had indicated, it popped with a plethora of citrus fruits. Grapefruit, lemon, blackberry, and mango swirled together to create a tropical medley that washed over my palate.

Then, about midway through, there was an earthy and peppery quality that sprung up, competing against the juicy aspect of the beer.

On some sips the citrus would win and outshine the pepper but on others the spice would push the tropical flavors aside and bring a slightly bitter twinge to the taste.

But, regardless of what quality was more prominent, Juicer 2 always ended the same: with a very dry, resinous orange peel flavor and some light bitterness. The 58 IBU just barely showing up here.

Juicer 2 was an interesting brew for me. On the sips that the citrus won, I loved it. It was juicy, tasty, and easy to drink. But, when the peppery notes broke through, it amplified the dryness and dropped it down to a typical IPA.

I’m just glad the fruit won most of the time.