Can lines and Beer Tastings, Oh my!

  by Jenny D.

In preparation for my family’s summer beer tasting, I stopped at Deciduous Brewing Company in Newmarket, NH for their double can release. I arrived just five minutes after they opened and the line was out the door by about seven people who were mostly dads with their young children (how Freecoast-y!). While in line, I decided it would be a good idea to get the maximum allotment of 12 cans of both Field Work 7.0 and Sun Day 3.0. After purchasing my cans, I stayed for a drink at the bar, ordering the Antonym, which was an excellent sour IPA that I rated 5.0. The brewery itself was cozy and had a very chill atmosphere that I would definitely seek out again.

Delicious Deciduous!

The following day, my friend Dan and I stopped at Tree House to try our luck at acquiring additional cans. But while they started with four different types of beer for sale, there was only one left by the time we got to the front of the line (which again stretched into the parking lot). This beer was Eureka, a blonde ale. I bought a case of this, and we each got a beer on draft. I ordered the Present Moment, a light-tasting American pale ale. Dan ordered the Green, a hoppy American IPA. After trying both, I was not too disappointed that both had sold out of cans that day.

Cans upon cans of Eureka!

Next, we headed to my sister’s house in western Mass for my family’s BBQ and beer tasting. For the tasting, we each bring as many beers as we want to share. I usually try to bring some local NH beers to represent my neck of the woods. This time, I brought two Great Rhythms: Resonation Pale Ale and Tropical Haze, two Deciduous: Sun Day and Field Work, Ommegang Rosetta, and Tree House Eureka. My father and sister contributed some western Mass and other beers, for a record-breaking 15 beers in the sampling.

One by one, we sample each beer and rate them on a 1-5 scale, writing down the ratings on our own individual pieces of paper. Next, the papers are collected, the results are averaged, and the beers are ordered from best to worst. The best part is what comes next: The award ceremony. I go in order from the lowest rated beer to the highest, discuss the ratings and the comments made about the beers (i.e. this one tasted like dish soap, I only brought this one to get rid of it, etc.) Sometimes, funny videos are recorded. My father, who does not own a smart phone, chimes in with a hand written list of ratings he previously looked up on Beer Advocate. There is also some debate as to whether the milk from the milk sugar comes from cows.

The lineup – from highest rated to lowest.

Comically, one of the beers I brought, the Ommegang Rosetta, got last place, with several people choosing to spit it out on the lawn rather than finish it (my sister said, “I wanted to kill those weeds anyway”). An orange IPA my dad brought, the Sierra Nevada Sidecar, didn’t fare much better (this was the “dish soap”). The other beers that I brought ranked higher, with Eureka taking the number 3 spot. While I rated it a 4.25, this smooth, citrusy IPA averaged a 3.21 at our tasting. Founder’s All Day IPA won second place. This was another drinkable low ABV IPA which I gave a 3.00, but it averaged a 3.25. Our winner was Abandoned Building Brewery’s Jubilation IPA, conditioned on pink guava and brewed in Easthampton, Massachusetts. Sweet, hoppy, and refreshing, it averaged a 3.44 (I gave it a 4.25).

Here are the final rankings with average scores from our panel of seven:

1. Abandoned Building – Jubilation 3.44
2. Founder’s – All Day IPA 3.25
3. Tree House – Eureka 3.21
4. Great Rhythm – Tropical Haze 3.08
5. (three-way tie) Deciduous Fieldwork, Great Rhythm Resonation Pale Ale, Founders Breakfast Stout 3.07
6. Deciduous – Sun Day 2.86
7. Grey Sail – Captain’s Daughter 2.83
8. Fort Hill – The Pianist 2.67
9. Spencer IPA 2.64
10. Grey Sail – Pour Judgement 2.57
11. Iron Duke – Generosity 2.46
12. Sierra Nevada – Sidecar 1.96
13. Ommegang – Rosetta 1.93

And here were my favorites:

  1. Deciduous – Sun Day 3.0 (my score: 4.50, Untapped score 4.15, Beer Advocate score N/A)
  2. Abandoned Building – Jubilation (my score 4.25, Untapped score 3.92, Beer Advocate score N/A)
  3. Tree House – Eureka (my score 4.25, Untapped score 4.15, Beer Advocate score 4.28)

Overall, I was pretty happy with how my beers fared in the tasting, despite the strong critics in my family. I think the Sun Day would have done better if it had been colder, but it had been in my car all day so it was a bit on the warm side. I was pleased with the quality of the beers from Deciduous, and it is much closer to me than Tree House for when I want to wait in a can line! Additionally, Deciduous now has two strong contenders for my favorite beer: Both their Antonym and Lollipop Forest are 5/5 for me!

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