Beer Review: Backlash’s Catalyst


Sometimes I get jealous of people in other craft beer Meccas like Colorado or California or Oregon. They get all these awesome brews from places like Russian River that we just can’t get out here. But then I think of all the amazing local breweries we have around Boston and New England, and all the great beers (like Heady Topper, which better than Pliny. BOOM. Open the floodgates of backlash, Internet) we get that they don’t.

And speaking of “backlash” and great local breweries: Backlash out of Holyoke, MA has been making some great beers for about a year and a half now.  Their latest is Catalyst, a “grapefruity anthem to the Amarillo hop.” And I grabbed batch 1 of 2. Check out the B.S.D. on me. Beyond having my dream life that involves brewing all day, having a kick-ass dog and chillin’ Alternate Captain Planet, Andrew Ference, founder/head brewer Helder Pimentel is also making some excellent beers.

Backlash Catalyst 1

From Backlash:

A few weeks ago we announced that we were going to let the Double IPA train roll with something we’re calling the Uprising! series.  The concept is to basically keep the malt bill from Salute the same and feature different hops in each brew.  Through some serious underground-hop-market-hustle we were able to stockpile some really killer hop varieties, so we figured we would use this opportunity to show them off.  The names of these beers are going to be Catalyst, Outbreak, and Riot — in that order — a naming convention which kind of keeps with our core-beer-naming-theme.

Catalyst is the first one and it features primarily the Amarillo hop.

And that’s about all you’re going to get from the website. The bottles that it’s 8.5% ABV. I reached out to Helder on Twitter, and got a little more information:

It’s about 70 IBU, a mix of Columbus, Simcoe, Centennial and Amarillo (mostly Amarillo though).

He also mentioned that Ference is an awesome dude. No shock there. The scores…

BeerAdvocate: N/A, N/A
RateBeer: N/A, N/A
Untappd: 4.11

Look at all those N/A’s! And I’m only #130 to check it in on Untappd. Who am I going to plagiarize my reviews from now?

Appearance: Golden, bordering on a light amber. It photographs more orange, and there’s definitely more orange when held up to certain light. I usually check against white pixels on my laptop and my office wall light; the latter shows more orange. The head is short, but a nice bubbly white that leaves some nice lacing on the glass. It looks pretty in my Pretty Things glass.

Smell: Grapefruit is your major player here. There’s citrus notes, and maybe a little pine. It’s a pleasant aroma that hints at a little sweetness, perhaps from the malt and/or alcohol. Not as powerful as I expected, but that could be my weak sense of smell.

Taste: The Amarillo hops are at work again. Grapefruit and citrus first, and I’m still getting some pine on the finish. That could be the Simcoe hops. A little resiny but not overly bitter. Crisp, tart finish. As it warms I get a little more sweetness and a tinge of alcohol but the grapefruity bitterness persists.

Mouthfeel: This feels great. I don’t feel like my palette is being scorched, but I know I’ve been drinking a DIPA. There’s a linger on the tongue, but it’s more mellow but not quite mouth. The carbonation is nice and the body is just firm enough. You don’t feel the 8.5% at all. If I had 3-4 of these, they’d be gone before I knew I was drunk.

Final Verdict: 4.75 out of 5. Buy this motherf’er.

Okay, so what’s up with the funky score? Here’s the deal. In terms of taste, I think this is a straight 5. It’s a great representation of the style without going too “West Coast” (i.e. palette-shredding). This is what a bitter, hoppy beer should be. My only knock is the aroma; it’s just not as strong as I’d like. And theoretically a perfect score can only go to a “perfect” beer (obviously nothing is perfect, but whatever). My tongue says 5, my nose says 4.5 and my brains says “why the hell do you have so many talking body parts?”

Great beer. If you’re in MA and you can find it: grab a Catalyst.

Backlash Catalyst 2

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