Craft beer aficionados of Massachusetts should be aware of the Craft Beer Cellar, a group of stores started by Kate Baker and Suzanne Schalow in 2010, currently in Massachusetts with plans of further expansion in the coming years. They have four locations including the recently opened store front in Newton, MA. On my commute home from work this past Friday I had the chance to stop by and check out the new store on only their third day of business. It was absolutely mind-blowing. This is – without question – the largest craft beer store I’ve ever set foot in. For those who are familiar with the Belmont location, Newton is 2 to 3 times larger. The selection is also impressive and I’m slightly ashamed to say how much I spent in one* visit.
* I suppose, technically, you could call it two visits since I left to put my first purchase in the car and came BACK and bought more beer. I
may have a problem.
Anyway, as it happens they were doing a tasting with Tröegs out of Pennsylvania. I’d heard of Tröegs and I’ve had a few of their beers (The Mad Elf is a delicious Christmas-y beer), so I hung around for the tasting. They poured Dreamweaver Wheat (a hefeweizen that I actually loved despite not liking the style), Hop Back Amber (a hoppy amber ale), Dead Reckoning (a Fall seasonal porter), Java Head (a coffee porter with very strong coffee flavors), and the subject of today’s review: Perpetual IPA (Imperial Pale Ale).
Alcohol by Volume: 7.5%
Hop Bitterness (IBUs): 85
Color (SRM): Straw / Golden
Availability: Year Round
Malts: Pilsner, Crystal, Munich
Hops: Bravo, Chinook, Mt. Hood
Hopback Hops: Mt. Hood, Nugget
Dry Hops: Citra, Cascade
In our constant evolution as a brewery, we’ve developed an undying drive to meld the organic and the mechanical. Perpetual IPA utilizes our hopback and dry-hopping to engineer a bold Imperial Pale Ale. It features Bravo, Chinook and Mt. Hood hops in the boil, Mt. Hood and Nugget hops in the hopback, and is further dry-hopped with Citra and Cascade hops.
“Straw in color and bittered with an abundance of citrus and spicy hops, Perpetual IPA is a tribute to building our new brewery and our desire to continue exploring,” says John Trogner.
Appearance: Straw yellow to golden is a solid description. Very clear, especially for a dry-hopped IPA, with a nice heavy white head with nice, medium sized bubbles.
Smell: Before I had tasted this, I had recently brewed an IPA with my friend Mike (tentatively called “Mike IPA”, until I can come up with a better name), that used Cascade and Citra hops. Smelling this beer – dry-hopped with Cascade and Citra – I got a beer-boner for my own creation. This smells incredible. Piney notes mix with big citrus aromas. There’s some orange, some mango. A really nice tropical fruit smell.
Taste: This is definitely a case of the Alstrom “Bros” being too pretentious for their own good. A rating of “85” is a slap in the face to this beer. This is an excellent IPA. I would say this contends with Ballast Point’s Sculpin for best, readily available IPA. The bitterness is strong and prickly, but very well balanced. The hops add a nice citrus flavor that borders on orange juice, and the Crystal and Munich malts add a great balanced sweetness that rounds out this beer. The taste is dank and bitter without being palette stripping.
Mouthfeel: Prickly bitterness but with a solid medium body and good carbonation. The bitterness lingers on the tip of the tongue long after the sip, but not in an unpleasant way. This is a very clean, creamy taste that ends with a nice punch of hoppy bitterness at the end.
Final Verdict: 4.5 out of 5. Buy it. Buy it in bulk if you’re a hophead.
When I saw the tasting at Craft Beer Cellar was Tröegs, I was initially disappointed. Despite claiming to be a beer geek, instead of a beer snob, I was hoping for a brewery that was either more rare, or more renowned. What I got was what I needed: a good hard slap in the face. Much like the Sam Adams ad suggests, I needed the reminder that just because I’ve heard of a brewery and had a few of their beers doesn’t mean I know everything about them. I expected Perpetual IPA to be a run-of-the-mill, obligatory IPA offering – what I assume the Alstrom Bros rated it, without any real thought – and I was very, very wrong (and unlike the Alstroms, I’ll admit to it). This is an excellent beer, and the primary reason I went back for that second round of beer purchases. Worth it.