Smuttynose Smistletoe

Apparently this beer is no longer just released at the brewery. I’m not sure if this was a change just for this year, or they will be distributing it going forward.


ABV: 8.5%

Style: Biere de Garde

Trivia: According to the brewery website. “Ridiculously complex ribbons, flashy wrapping paper and scenic gift bags are some of the best parts about Christmas presents, but nothing is more of a let down than when the actual gift doesn’t live up to the promise of its presentation. This Christmas, why not offer a delicious New Hampshire-brewed gift that does both? Smuttynose Smistletoe is the inaugural Christmas beer from the Granite State’s leading craft brewer. Available in two different 750ml screen-printed bottles (ceramic or champagne-style) which is a radical departure from our signature photograph-centric label design. Like the entire output of Santa’s workshop, each bottle has been lovingly filled by hand. The beer itself is a festive take on Bière de Garde, a more robust variant of the farmhouse ale family tree; brewed with sweet cherries, black currants and plums then aged on lightly toasted American oak. But act fast, because even jolly ole St. Nick won’t be able to deliver this beer to your house as it’s far too limited (and he can’t fly with alcohol on the sleigh). The special edition ceramic bottle will only for sale at our brewery at Towle Farm in Hampton, NH. But don’t worry – we don’t care if you’ve been naughty or nice, as long as you’re over 21. Join us in celebrating Christmas the Smuttynose way and if you play your cards right, you might just get a holiday kiss under your Smistletoe… Merry Christmas!”

Random: The bottle is really cool. It stood out on the shelves.

This beer poured with a half a finger of white head that dissipated quickly. It left no lacing on the glass, but a slight crown. The body was hazy and a bright ruby color. There was light carbonation visible. The nose had tart berries and currants. It also had vanilla and toasted oak. The taste had some spice, specifically clove and nutmeg. Then, berries came through. Specifically, I picked up sour cherries and raspberries. It also had some oak and vanilla. The body was on the light side. It had high carbonation. The booze was very well-hidden. The finish was lengthy and filled with tart berries. A bomber of this set me back $11.99, which came to $.55 per ounce. This was a nice beer, but could have used a bit more balance and had too many flavors going on.

Untappd Rating: 3.5/5.0

Two Roads Two Evil Geyser Gose

One of the cats decided to try to go in the fireplace. He managed to get his paws all ashy, which wasn’t fun since Val vacuumed today. Anyways, let’s talk about this beer.


ABV: 5.5%

Style: Gose

Trivia: According to the brewery website, “Two Roads and Evil Twin sourced local ingredients during a trip to Iceland for this collaboration including: Icelandic moss, rye, herbs, sea kelp, skyr (Icelandic yogurt) and birch-smoked sea salt to create a Two + Evil twist on a gose beer; a sour wheat-style ale with a hint of smoke, light lemon color, dry finish and thirst quenching appeal.”

Random: I can’t say that I’ve ever had skyr. I’d be interested to try it on its own.

This beer poured with a half a finger of white head that dissipated quickly. It left no lacing on the glass. The body was slightly hazy and straw yellow in color. There was light carbonation visible. The nose had more depth than I expected. There was some tartness, then a little funk and then brine. It also had light citrus. The taste started sour with lemon pith and then went into mild sweetness. There was brine as well. It also had some green vegetal notes that added depth. The body was on the light side with high carbonation. It had a quick finish with salt and tartness. A can of this was $2.00 and broke down to $.12 per ounce. I enjoyed this beer a lot and it had really nice flavor for a gose. I wish it had a bit more of the smoke that the description said it had, though.

Untappd Rating: 4.0/5.0

Anderson Valley Highway 128 Session Series: Blood Orange Gose

This beer got a lot of attention when it came out. It was rare to see a bad review and everyone championed the flavor as well as the low ABV on it. But, it was really hard for me to find, so this is the first time that I’m getting to sample it. Let’s see how it was.


ABV: 4.2%

Style: Gose

Trivia: According to the brewery website, “Our Blood Orange Gose is a tart, refreshing wheat ale that is kettle-soured with lactobacillus and brewed with sea salt and coriander. However, unlike traditional versions of the style, ours features liberal additions of blood oranges during fermentation. This imparts tangy citrus notes that complement the champagne-like flavors, creating a complex and sessionable ale perfect for any occasion.”

Random: All three cats are asleep on the couch. Normally, at this time, they’re all chasing each other around the house, sounding like a herd of elephants.

This beer poured with a half a finger of white head that dissipated quickly. It left no lacing on the glass. The body was slightly cloudy and a bright orange color. It had moderate carbonation. The nose was fragrant and had the most authentic blood orange scent that I’ve ever smelled on a beer. Some tartness was apparent on the nose as well with regular, pulp-free orange juice. The taste had some sourness, blood orange juice, and a touch of salt. Again, regular orange juice came through too. The body was light with high carbonation. It had a long finish with blood orange juice and salt. A single can was $1.69 ($.14 per ounce). This beer was amazing. It went down way too easy and had a lot of flavor. I would definitely have this one again.

Untappd Rating: 4.5/5.0

Maine Mead Works HoneyMaker Ram Island Iced Tea Mead

For some reason, when I’m really hungry, I watch cooking shows. This inevitably makes me more hungry. I’m watching “The Pioneer Woman” make dorm room meals. Conceptually, it makes sense, but what college student is going to have fresh mint in their dorm room? Now that I’ve gone on a tangent, let’s talk about this mead, which I sampled at the source in Portland, Maine.


ABV: 7%

Style: Mead

Trivia: According to the brewery website, “Inspired by a family iced tea recipe, this “session” style mead drinks like a craft beer with the prominent flavor of black tea, hints of lemon and of mint. The sweetness of honey balances the tannins of the tea and acidity of the lemons for a refreshing, full-bodied craft tea beverage that can be enjoyed anytime of year.”

Random: She’s making chocolate cake in a cup now.

This mead (which was carbonated) poured with a half a finger of thin, white head that dissipated quickly. It left no lacing on the glass. The body was a clear, amber color with moderate carbonation. The nose was filled with black tea, herbal notes and lemon. The taste was much better after I let it warm for a few minutes. I picked up the same black tea and lemon. Honey gave it some nice sweetness. The body was light with lots of carbonation. It had a long finish with black tea. The bottle was $8, which came to $.47 per ounce. This was really nice, and better than when I had it at the source. I would have this one again.

Untappd Rating: 3.5/5.0

Bantam Wunderkind

This was a cider that I picked up in Maine and have never heard anything about it. Let’s see how it was.


ABV: 6%

Style: Cider

Trivia: According to the brewery website, “We are proud to introduce our first cider, Wunderkind. Bantam’s maiden voyage is named in honor of one of the greatest modern adventurers, Amelia Earhart. She was bold and courageous and never settled for anything less than achieving the extraordinary. It is her fearless spirit and sense of adventure that inspires our own quest. Wunderkind is bright and crisp and gently lingers on the palate. It is made from a blend of local apples, slowly fermented to capture subtle esters, and delicately balanced with a hint of flower-blossom honey. It is the result of countless test batches on dozens of apple varieties and yeast strains to arrive at just the right combination of flavors, aroma and body. Wunderkind isn’t simply a new twist on a familiar theme, it’s a new story altogether.”

Random: Val drank it, but wasn’t a big fan of it.

This cider poured with a half a finger of white head that dissipated instantly and left absolutely no lacing on the glass. The body was a clear, greenish-yellow. There was moderate carbonation visible. The nose had apples, but they weren’t intensely sweet. Some honey came through as well. The taste was slightly sweet with honey to aid in the sweetness. Apples obvious came through, but they weren’t intense. The cider wasn’t dry, but it wasn’t a sugar bomb either, which I appreciated. The body was light with moderate to high carbonation. It had a quick finish with soft apples and honey. This was on the pricier side at $3.00 for the single bottle ($.24 per ounce). I enjoyed this cider a lot and wish it was distributed to New Jersey.

Untappd Rating: 4.0/5.0

Stone Sorry Not Sorry IPA

I’ve been having a lot of beers from Stone lately, and this is another one from their Collaboration series. Since it highlights peach, which is one of my favorite fruits, I couldn’t wait to pry the cap off.


ABV: 9%

Style: American Double/Imperial IPA

Trivia: According to the brewery website, “We make no apologies for the fact that we love brewing bold, flavorful, hop-centric beers. Naturally, we welcomed the opportunity to work with two amazing craft breweries that share our lupulin-fueled dedication: St. Louis-based 4 Hands Brewing Co., known for its innovative IPAs; and Bale Breaker Brewing Co., whose owners’ family has farmed hops in Washington’s Yakima Valley for generations. Since theirs was the first hop farm to commercially grow the beloved Simcoe variety, using that piney, stone fruit-like hop was a must. Pureed peaches upped the fruit factor, while experimental hops HBC 342 and fruit, berries and citrus to this IPA. Yes, we made another IPA. We concede it’s not surprising, but we are who we are: an unapologetic band of hopheads psyched to explore the ever-expanding IPA universe.”

Random: My cat, Simcoe sniffed this beer and immediately walked away.

This beer poured with a thin, two finger, off white head. It dissipated quickly and left limited lacing on the glass. The body was a clear, dark brown color. It had moderate carbonation visible. The nose had a lot of grassy hops. Citrus and stone fruit came through next. The taste had way more malt than I expected. It hit up front at the same time that the grass and grapefruit came in. The stone fruit, specifically peach was in the flavor as well, but not nearly as strong as I would have liked. As I mentioned, the malt was significant and gave the beer balance, which in turn, hid the alcohol exceptionally well. The body was on the thicker side with moderate carbonation. It had a long finish with hops and caramel malt. A bomber of this was $9, which came to $.41 per ounce. I enjoyed this beer and would definitely have it again. It went down way too easily for something with this high of ABV.

Untappd Rating: 4.0/5.0

Dogfish Head Pennsylvania Tuxedo

This beer is one that everyone has been reviewing and the blog reviews are very mixed. I tend to love beers with spruce or juniper notes, so hopefully it’s a good one.


ABV: 8.5%

Style: American Pale Ale

Trivia: According to the brewery website, “A spruce-infused pale ale, Pennsylvania Tuxedo pays homage to the flannel-suited hunters and gatherers who dwell deep in the backcountry of north-central PA. Brewed in collaboration with family-run outdoor clothing company Woolrich, Pennsylvania Tuxedo is a sessionable concoction with a grassy citrus kick complemented by the resinous conifer notes of fresh green spruce tips. We went into the forests of north-central Pennsylvania and Georgetown, Del., to pick these fresh tips ourselves. A dry yet doughy malt backbone lets the hops and spruce shine while still balancing out the bitterness, making this one an easy sipper.”

Random: I’m sorry, but how is 8.5% ABV sessionable?

This beer poured with a three finger, white head. It dissipated slowly and left significant lacing on the glass. The body was clear and the color of maple syrup. It had light carbonation visible. The nose was potent. It had a lot of hops and pine notes, but not spruce tips. Some citrus came through too and it was really hoppy. The taste had the spruce tips that I was missing in the nose and they dominated the flavor. It bordered on being a bit too much. The pine hops and citrus came through, but were mild in comparison to the spruce. Bready and lightly toasted malt was at the end of the sip. As I find with most beers from Dogfish Head, the booze was hidden. The beer drank with a very heavy body for the style, and the spruce flavor increased that feeling. It had the same light carbonation. The finish was lengthy with spruce tips and toasted malt. It was $2.42 for a bottle ($.20 per ounce). This beer was definitely interesting and I liked the addition of the spruce tips, but it needed to be dialed down a touch to be an outstanding beer.

Untappd Rating: 3.5/5.0

Downeast Cider House Unoriginal Blend

I picked up this cider in Maine. Val has had a few from them and liked them. This was not one of them. I popped open the can and she took one sip and took the beer that I reviewed yesterday. I was stuck finishing it.


ABV: 5.5%

Style: Cider

Trivia: According to the brewery website, “After three years of ignoring all traditional forms of making hard cider, we gave in. We looked to those who had been making cider for hundreds, if not thousands, of years and learned from them. We ferment fresh-pressed juice with champagne yeast, filter for a clean flavor, and add a touch of honey. This departure TO the norm is a Downeast departure FROM the norm. Unoriginal is clear and crisp with very little residual sweetness.”

Random: Their can art is really nice. It’s simple, but attractive.

When I opened this can, it immediately exploded. Luckily, I didn’t lose too much of it. It initially had a quarter of a finger of white head, but it dissipated quickly and left no lacing. The body was a clear, green-yellow color. It had medium carbonation visible. The nose had notes of light apples, white grapes and yeast. The taste was very dry and almost bland. Apples were not the major flavor. It reminded me of a dry white wine spritzer. It had the same yeast characteristic and when I saw it utilized champagne yeast, it didn’t surprise me at all. The body was light with lots of carbonation. The finish was really quick and unremarkable. A single can of this ran me $2.74, which was $.23 per ounce. The cider was alright, but it just needed more flavor.

Untappd Rating: 3.0/5.0

ShawneeCraft Apiarius

I picked up this beer in a store outside of Philly. Once I did, I saw one of the musicians I follow on Facebook posed with a can because she was going to be playing there, although she didn’t make any comments about the quality of the beer. Val ended up not hating this beer, so she had it and gave me a few sips to review.


ABV: 5.5%

Style: American Pale Ale

Trivia: According to, “The first thing you’ll notice on this pale ale are the sweet floral notes, coming from the honey gathered from the beehives on the brewery’s premises along the Delaware river. This is a crisp, but malty, pale ale that has a hoppy, grassy backbone. Like the brewery, it’s an intriguing beer — the kind you might want to drink as you walk along a wooded, riverside path.”

Random: Yesterday I reviewed a honey wine (i.e. a mead) and today, a honey beer. And no, that wasn’t planned.

This beer poured with a half a finger of ecru colored head. It dissipated quickly and left no lacing on the glass. The body was a clear, amber color with light carbonation visible. The nose didn’t remind me of the typical pale ale. It had some nuttiness from the malt and honey. Cracker came through too. The taste had the same nuttiness from the malt. Honey came through next, but like the brewery said, it didn’t provide a lot of sweetness. The yeast came through as bread. The body was medium thick with moderate carbonation. The finish was quick and nutty. I picked up the can for $3, which was $.25 per ounce. This beer was drinkable, but nothing I feel the need to have again.

Untappd Rating: 3.0/5.0

Maine Mead Works Lavender Mead

We finally cracked open one of the meads that we got in Maine. They were right by Oxbow and we also picked up some cute slate coasters when we visited. Let’s see how it was.


ABV: 12.5%

Style: Mead

Trivia: According to the brewery website, “Made in the spirit of French botanical aperitifs, this aromatic semi-sweet mead invokes the most iconic scents of summer. Locally grown varieties of English lavender from Glendarragh Farms in Appleton, Maine, impart brilliant floral notes balanced with a distinctive minerality. Creamy, round finish with lingering citrus and pineapple. Medium to full-bodied, built on a foundation of smooth wildflower honey. HoneyMaker mead is handcrafted in small batches using our unique continuous fermentation process. Our mead’s exceptional clarity and lightness are the result of a perfect union of ancient tradition and modern technology. Oak aged for complexity and depth, HoneyMaker Lavender Mead rings in a new era in herb-infused wine making. Each bottle is hand-filled and labeled on-site at our meadery in Portland, Maine. HoneyMaker is ready to drink, or cellar to unlock new depths and dimensions.”

Random: Because of their distribution rights, they can’t market their meads and their “cysers” under the same name, or so they told us, as it appears they market one as “Maine Mead Works.”

The mead poured a clear, light yellow color. The nose was floral from the lavender and then went into sweetness from the honey. There was also a scent of alcohol. The taste started with sweetness from the honey and then quickly went into a floral note from the lavender. It also had an herbal note as well. The alcohol was present and there was a weird twang that I got from it. After a few sips, it was closest to mineral water. I didn’t get any of the citrus or pineapple, but the oak came through minimally at the end. It had a thick mouthfeel that was bordering on syrupy. The flavor lasted on the tongue for awhile. This was $15.00 for the bottle, which was $1.69 per ounce. This wasn’t my favorite mead that I’ve ever had and I remember enjoying it more when I sampled it in Portland.

Untappd Rating: 3.5/5.0