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Belt’s Beer Garden: Hazing Myself

Two hazy IPAs - Ellicottville Somethin’ Hazee & Boulder Beer Co Due East

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This week, as football season finally comes back, I have a couple hazy IPAs to share.

First up, a brew from western New York that our friends of the Buffalo Bulls might know...Ellicottville’s Somethin’ Hazee.

Ellicottville Brewing Co. has been brewing up tasty treats in Ellicottville, New York since 1995. They now have a few locations across New York state and opened a huge new brewpub in 2013. Today they offer two canned brews and three bottled beers year-round along with a slew of seasonal/specialty releases. You can find them throughout New York and in parts of Pennsylvania and other nearby states.

Today I have one of their two canned beers – Somethin’ Hazee, a New England IPA that was first released in April of this year. It’s sold in four-packs of 16-ounce cans that run about $13. I couldn’t find which hops/malts it was brewed with but the can claims it’s made with a “sophisticated combination of American hops.”

This New England IPA poured a murky, super hazy, dark straw color with very minimal head. In fact, no more than half a finger of off-white bubbles ever appeared as, almost as soon as they appeared, they fizzled away; leaving just a razor thin line of foam around the edge of the glass and a small dusting across the top.

Somethin’ Hazee had a beautifully juicy aroma that featured big notes of tropical fruits with just a slight hoppy backing. Grapefruit, pineapple, mango, and tangerine filled my nostrils as some lighter floral notes and a dash of that hoppy bitterness sat behind the citrus, just so you didn’t mistake this brew for some sort of juice.

My first swig began with a slight zip of carbonation and had a creamier, heavier mouthfeel than I was expecting. However, the hop flavors almost immediately made an impact on my taste buds.

Bright and bold notes of orange and grapefruit started it all off and slowly expanded across my tongue until every inch was covered in a slightly sticky, somewhat juicy feeling. Nipping at the heels of the citrus were more fruit flavors – mostly pineapple, a light melon, and some mango – but there was also a sting of bitterness that came with the tropical fruits.

At 100 IBU, this is one of the more bitter/hoppier New England IPAs. And, unlike most, the hop bite isn’t hidden quite as well, as towards the backend of each sip there is that bitter sting that lingers at the back of the throat.

However, as the sip progresses, there is more than just citrus in this unfiltered IPA. A biscuity malt adds some more sweetness and the hops add a somewhat floral flavor that really calms down the bitterness as the beer begins to fade away.

As Somethin’ Hazee ends, there is a low-level resinous feeling (with some orangey/citrusy notes) that clings to my tongue with just the tiniest hint of dryness.

But all in all, this was a decent New England IPA. The fruity, tropical flavors were very tasty but the high level of bitterness and lower ABV detract some from this brew (at just 5% ABV and 100 IBU, it is on the lower side of booze and higher side of bitterness).

If you’re in western New York or their distribution area though, it’s a solid option to try.

Next up, we head to the mountains of Colorado and to a brewery started by a couple of Colorado Buffaloes professors...Boulder Beer Co.

Colorado has a long and storied craft beer history but there is no older brewery in the state than Boulder Beer Company. They were founded in 1979 in Boulder, Colorado, by (as I mentioned earlier) two professors at the University of Colorado and, at that time, there were only 42 other operating breweries in the United States…thank God that number has changed!

Since that time, they have continued to grow and expand to multiple locations, including one located inside Denver International Airport. They can be found in 34 states and D.C. and offer eight year-round brews – including their newest one, which I have for you today: Due East.

Due East is a New-England style IPA made with Ekuanot, Mosaic, and Simcoe hops and Pale and Wheat malts and flaked oats. A six-pack costs the usual $10 with each individual can packing a solid 6.9% ABV.

It poured a slightly hazy but pretty translucent straw color with about a finger of eggshell white head. The foam quickly dissipates, leaving nothing but a thin layer around the edge of the glass and nothing else.

On the nose, Due East has some juicy qualities to it and features peach, pineapple, and other citrusy fruits but, interestingly, there is also a huge oaty aroma from the addition of those flaked oats and some malty sweetness backing them up.

Due East started with a sharp fizz of carbonation before the hops were allowed to shine. It begins with the citrus fruit peeking out, with pineapple and peach leading the way. Following those two, a light melon and some zesty orange and lemon flavors came next with a bouquet of floral hops sitting behind the fruit.

There was a bitter zap that stung my tongue and a slightly soapy, slightly tea-like taste that came next. It seemed to be a strangely out of place flavor in a New England-style brew.

The soapy, floral flavor continued on and even another burst of juicy orange and tangerine couldn’t quell it…only slow it down.

As the beer’s flavors were beginning to fade, a hint dryness came creeping in (nothing too much though), as did a slightly resinous feeling that coated my tongue for a few moments after the sip had vanished.

Overall, this was a moderate beer. Some sips had a lot of juicy tropical fruit flavors…and those were the good ones. However, far too many had the soapy floral taste that overpowered the citrus and made a bad impression on my taste buds. At times (on a sip or two) it reminded me of a childhood punishment of washing out my mouth with soap after say a bad word. But…at least this one can get me tipsy.