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Review by SAP on 05/03/09  
Score Appearance Smell Taste Mouthfeel Overall Impression Year
76 3 9 15 4 7 2009
Sampled March 2009
A solid pour into my 25cl tulip glass produces a three finger thick head that is a pale tan color and just crests the top of my glass. The head subsides somewhat quickly and completely disappears after a bit. The beer is a brilliantly clear, light ruby color that shows a deeply red stained, bright copper hue when held up to the light. The aroma smells of toasty malt and berry-like hops. There is a slight lemon like note to the nose that comes off as being a little washed out. Sweet malt aromatics form a backdrop to the up front toasty malt notes that remind me of whole grain crackers.

Up front the beer tastes lightly bitter and it picks up a malty sweetness through the middle, but then dries out in the finish where there is a strong bitter finish that also has a bit of menthol to it. The bitter hop notes in the finish can get quite sharp and almost astringent at times; it really lingers on the palate with a spicy, almost peppery bite. This has a medium fullness to it that helps to stave off the biting hop finish when the beer is actually in the mouth. Malt flavors of toasted whole grain crackers, a touch of caramelized malt sweetness and just a solid malt character really help this to balance out much of the hop notes. This definitely has that signature mint-like / menthol note that is characteristic of Northern Brewer hops.

This is actually pretty nice; at first I didn’t like how jarring the transition between the smooth, chewy malt notes in the middle and the harsher hop notes in the finish, but after a few sips it begins to get a bit more integrated and balanced (though the hop character is a bit more harsh than I might prefer). This definitely seems to be an under-appreciated beer though, but I suspect that the breweries consistency issues have to do with much of the problem; I am just glad that I got a stable / fresh bottle.

Served In: Tulip