Mystic Freak Scene

Two things I love: Mystic beers and gruits. Hopefully this goes well.


ABV: 7%

Style: Scottish Gruit/Ancient Herbed Ale

Trivia: According to the brewery website, “While we like experimenting with ingredients all year long, February 1st is the day we really get to have fun with our recipes. Along with other like-minded breweries around the world, we will be delving into a style nearly lost to time, gruit. Like the original brewers, we forgo hops in favor of herbs, spices and other rarely-seen brewing ingredients. This year we’re especially excited to debut this year’s selection, which will have been brewed in our new brewhouse by our new head brewer Charlie Cummings. Charlie’s lineup incorporates the traditional ingredients of ancient gruits with modern flavors. All of these will be brewery only and in extremely limited quantities so if you want a taste, make sure to drop by our Chelsea location on February 1st! Our tap room will be open from 4-9, but usual hours will resume Wednesday.”

Random: The website had no information about this beer.

This beer poured with a two finger, slightly off white head that dissipated quickly. It left no lacing on the glass with a quarter finger of crown. The body was a murky, dark brown, almost like dirty pond water. There was still a lot of carbonation visible. The nose started with a musty yeast note and then had a burnt maple flake. It also had an herbal note with tea. The taste started with the same musty yeast note and sweet malts. The next flavor to come through was honey and then the herbal tea flavor came through. It had a rather thick body, but a lot of carbonation. There was no alcohol detectable. The finish was quick with the honey and tea flavors. A bottle of this was expensive at $24 ($1.09 per ounce). This was interesting and drinkable, but not the best selection I’ve had from the brewery.

Untappd Rating: 3.5/5.0

Ninkasi Expo 58

Beer gifts are the best. Whenever Val travels without me, she always brings stuff home and this was one of the singles she brought me back.


ABV: 5%

Style: Belgian Pale Ale

Trivia: According to the brewery website, “Marking the return of the World’s Fair after World War II, Expo 58 in Brussels brought inspiration, innovation and pleasure to the people of Belgium. With all the flavor, finesse, smoothness, and subtle clove esters of Belgian-style ales, this beer is our way of emerging from winter’s cold occupation. Enjoy! Expo 58 was born out of our brewers’ interest in Belgian-style ales. Similar to a Belgian Tripel, but with a much lower alcohol percentage, this beer has a spicy, floral aroma from the Belgian yeast and use of Saaz hops. With a biscuity backbone, the notable characteristics of the Belgian yeast shine through, bringing forth subtle notes of clove and banana in a sessionable Belgian ale.”

Random: My paternal grandmother used to tell me about going to the World’s Fair when I was a kid.

This beer poured with less than a finger of white head that dissipated instantly and left no lacing on the glass. The body was a light, lemon yellow with slight cloudiness and high carbonation. The nose had some skunk to it, almost like it was seriously light struck. It had grain and bread, but I didn’t get any Belgian notes. The taste was filled grain and the same skunk that was in the nose, but it was dialed down slightly. It also had white bread and some floral notes, but the Belgian spice aspect of the beer was missing. It tasted more like a Pilsner than a Belgian-style beer. It had a really thin body with high carbonation. The finish was lengthy with skunk. Since I received this beer as a gift, I don’t know how much it was. I also think it was a bit old since this was a Winter seasonal and I got this in March and drank it within a month (as mentioned before, I post awhile in advance). I would give this one another shot fresh.

Untappd Rating: 2.0/5.0

Anderson Valley Briney Melon Gose

I’ve been recruiting like crazy at my job. Since I’m a site manager, it’s one of the responsibilities we have. The phone screens that I’ve had lately are hilarious. I did a phone screen today and the candidate hung up on me, but then resubmitted her application multiple times. I tried to call them back and even left my office number on the voice mail, but no response. I guess the job market had really improved.


ABV: 4.2%

Style: Gose

Trivia: According to the brewery website, “Born from our passion for experimentation, our Briney Melon Gose boasts a thirst-quenching tartness that is perfectly balanced by subtle watermelon flavors and aromas. Gentle additions of sea salt create a refreshing harmony between the acidity and fruity sweetness leading to clean, dry finish.”

Random: This beer uses Bravo hops.

This beer poured with a thin, three finger, white head. It dissipated slowly and left no lacing on the glass. The body was a cloudy, bright yellow with high carbonation visible despite the cloudiness. The nose was subtle, but had unripe honeydew, watermelon rind with salt. There was also a sour scent. The taste was tart watermelon rind and unripe watermelon flesh as well. The salt came through at the end. After a few sips, I picked up the honeydew as well with some white grapes. The flavors were all really bright and authentic, which is something that I was concerned about given that it had melon flavors. It had a thin body and high carbonation. The finish was swift with watermelon rind. A can of this was $1.83 ($.15 per ounce). This is a perfect summer beer to have by the pool or at a barbecue. This is going to be a cooler mainstay for me.

Untappd Rating: 4.0/5.0

Half Acre GoneAway IPA

I picked this beer up from a store in Pennsylvania by our local Target. From the outside, this place looked like a total dump. When I went in, I was pleasantly surprised that the selections were outstanding and plentiful. This was hidden in a cold case and I completely forgot that Pennsylvania gets Half Acre distribution.


ABV: 7%

Style: American IPA

Trivia: According to the brewery website, “Available September-March, this beer is a western charged firecracker, a conjuring of classics laid to rest on a bed of pale malt. Deep gold and ready to travel the distance. 7% ABV”

Random: This is a September to March seasonal.

This brew poured with a finger of white head. It dissipated slowly and left some lacing on the glass. It left a thick crown on top of the body. The body was a medium-yellow color and cloudy with moderate carbonation visible despite the cloudiness. The nose was really grassy. It also had some pine, but was mostly hay and fresh-cut grass, almost more like a pale ale. The taste was also really bright and grassy. There was some malt, but it manifested as crackers as opposed to sweet, caramel malt. There was also a green herbal note that tasted like mint. It had a medium thick body with high carbonation. The finish was lengthy and vegetal with mint and grass. A pounder can of this was $2.37, which broke down to $.15 per ounce. This beer was really easy drinking, despite the elevated ABV. I would definitely have this again.

Untappd Rating: 4.0/5.0

Modern Times Lomaland

Modern Times has been making an appearance in New York, so last time I was picking up beer in New York, this came home with me.


ABV: 5.5%

Style: Saison/Farmhouse Ale

Trivia: According to the brewery website, “Lomaland is an earthy, rustic Belgian-style farmhouse ale that’s both complex and quaffable. It smells like hay, pepper, and friendly sunshine. Its dry, cracker-like body and lightly-hoppy finish makes it a beautiful compliment to food. We named Lomaland after the brilliantly crazy utopian community that was the first settlement built in Point Loma, the San Diego neighborhood where our fermentorium is located.”

Random: My littlest cat is starting to get jealous when I pet the other cats. It’s pretty funny since he was the most skittish when we got him.

This beer poured with a three finger, thin white head that dissipated quickly. It left no lacing on the glass. It did leave a slight crown was left on top of the clear, straw yellow body with high carbonation visible. The nose was yeasty and had a note of musty basement. There was also lemon curd and old straw. I would characterize this one as rustic. The taste was equally rustic. Unlike the taste, it started with lemon zest and curd first. It went into notes of white bread, crackers and instead of being musty, it had an old dusty note. The body was on the thinner side with high carbonation. It had a quick finish with lemon curd and saltines. A pounder can of this was $3, which broke down to $.19 per ounce. This was a really drinkable saison and had some nice flavors. I would highly recommend this one.

Untappd Rating: 4.0/5.0

Founders Sumatra Mountain Brown

I am not a big fan of brown ales, but when Founders come out with one, I have to try it. Their beers are ridiculously good and I have high hopes for this one.


ABV: 9%

Style: American Brown Ale

Trivia: According to the brewery website, “This bold, imperial brown ale gets its body from a team of malts including Caramel malt for sweetness, flaked barley for dense foam, a bit of Chocolate malt for its deep color and Aromatic and Munich malts to add even more depth. German and Perle hops add a touch of bitterness to balance the malty sweetness. The addition of rich Sumatra coffee takes this perfectly balanced imperial brown ale to a decadent level.”

Random: The first beer I ever homebrewed was a brown ale.

This beer poured with a half a finger of off white head that dissipated instantly and left no lacing on the glass. It did leave a very small crown on top of the dark brown body. The carbonation was moderate and visible despite the color of the body. The nose was filled with dark, earthy coffee. It was like cold brew coffee with roasted malts and hazelnuts. The taste had notes of strong, cold brew coffee and brown bread with hazelnuts. The booze was insanely hidden. It had an almond note as well. The body was thick with high carbonation. The finish was lengthy with hazelnut coffee. A bottle of this was $2.75 ($.23 per ounce). This beer was outstanding. It could be one of the best brown ales that I’ve ever had. You need to try this immediately. It may change the way you feel about brown ales.

Untappd Rating: 4.5/5.0

Paradox Skully Barrel No. 35

Last time I went to The Craft Beer Outlet, they had some Paradox in stock. I didn’t know that Philly got their beers and was insanely excited to give it a shot.


ABV: 8%

Style: American Wild Ale

Trivia: According to the brewery website, “Salted and dried plums, or Saladitos, are a popular savory candy available in Mexican specialty markets. To create this drinkable homage, we’ve paired those satisfying sweet and salty plum flavors with the tart citrus peel bite of our white wine barrel-aged sour golden ale. What you are holding is a vibrant and piquant beverage meant to stimulate your mind and appetite.”

Random: I really hope the Eagles are decent this year.

This beer poured with a two finger, thin white head. It dissipated instantly and was gone by the time I took the picture. The body was a bright and golden-orange. It was very hazy, so I could not see any carbonation. The nose had a pleasant tartness to it. It had bright citrus along with a musty white wine grape note. After a few sips, it also had a wet dirt note that was unexpected, but not off-putting. The taste was a bit more sweet. I’ve never had Salditos, but I could pick up an overripe plum note. It had a sugary sweetness that overwhelmed the tartness. The alcohol was hidden. It also had a pepper note that didn’t seem to fit with the beer. After it warmed, there was also a warm, oak and vanilla note. The body had moderate thickness with generous carbonation. The finish was lengthy with sugar plums. I liked this beer a lot. It was unique and had incredibly amounts of depth. This is definitely worth a try, despite it being expensive at $18 ($1.12 per ounce).

Untappd Rating: 4.0/5.0

Nebraska Ale Storm

This is a beer that Val picked out for me because of my love of baseball. I thought the can art on this was incredibly well done. Unfortunately, I wasn’t a big fan of the contents.


ABV: 5.1%

Style: American Blonde Ale

Trivia: According to the brewery website, “New for 2013 – The perfect ‘baseball’ beer. A smooth, thirst-quenching beer that balances the delicate sweetness of Pilsner malt and lemony/spicy notes of Sterling hops. It was specifically crafted to be an approachable but flavorful addition to everyone’s favorite pastime.”

Random: Minor league baseball games are the best. Tickets are cheap and you can always get good seats. I need to go to a Trenton Thunder game next year. I haven’t been in a very long time.

The brew poured with a half a finger of thin, pure white head that dissipated slowly. It left no lacing on the glass. The body was very hazy and bright yellow with moderate carbonation. The nose had wheat,lemon and Pilsner malt. The taste started with a honey sweetness and bready malt. What I didn’t get was wheat or lemon, which would have significantly improved this beer. The body was thick, which didn’t help with the drinkability and the carbonation needed to be dialed up as well. It made this beer feel really heavy. It had a quick finish with white bread and crackers. A single can of this retailed for $1.83 ($.15 per ounce). I didn’t like this beer at all. There are so many better beers in this style. I don’t feel the need to have this one again.

Untappd Rating: 3.0/5.0

Flying Dog Fever Dream Mango Habanero IPA

More and more breweries are doing Habanero IPAs, but I find them to be hit or miss (see my review of Ballast Point’s version here). Flying Dog’s Brewhouse Rarity series is equally hit or miss, so let’s see how this one went.


ABV: 7%

Style: American IPA

Trivia: According to the brewery website, “Jim and Pam. Forest and Jenny. Snoop and Mary Jane. For our brewers, that couple that makes us all weak in the knees is Mango and Habanero. The combination of sweet mango and bold Habanero pepper has always been a favorite in casks of Raging Bitch Belgian-Style IPA, which inspired one brewer in particular to pitch a Mango Habanero IPA for our Brewhouse Rarities series. Brewhouse Rarities Mango Habanero IPA was released in February 2014 and flew off the shelves faster than we could brew it. We’re no psychics, but we took that as a sign that you wanted more. And after running it as a tasting room throwback late last year, our imaginary crystal ball was clear that this Mango Habanero IPA was ready to graduate to our year-round roster. Giving it a name that invokes the feeling of conquering an invading tribe, we now bring you Fever Dream. Fever Dream showcases a beautiful trifecta of fruit, heat and tropical fruit-forward hops. The balance of spicy and sweet that has been expertly dialed in, with the heat factor falling into the category where you can enjoy a few pints, rather than just one. We recommend trying this with your favorite Thai foods and curry, or on it’s own if food isn’t your thing.”

Random: I prefer jalapeno peppers to Habanero. I find jalapeno peppers to have a more crisp, vegetal taste.

This beer poured with a thin, one finger, ecru head. It dissipated quickly and left some lacing on the glass. The body was a bright orange and hazy with a lot of floaties and moderate carbonation. The nose started with grapefruit, mango and then bam, huge spice hit from the hot peppers. The taste started with a mango sweetness and malt quickly followed up in the form of lightly toasted malt. As I swallowed, the spice hit in the back of the throat with an astringent booze note that was unpleasant. Despite this being an IPA, the malt note was too strong and I wish it had more citrus flesh. The body was thick with moderate carbonation. It had a quick finish with malt and capsaicin heat. A bottle of this was $1.79 ($.15 per ounce). I found this beer to have citrus notes that were too muted and I wasn’t a fan at all. I won’t be having this one again.

Untappd Rating: 3.0/5.0

Brooklyn Improved Old Fashioned

I heard about this beer on one of the beer podcasts I listen to. I love whiskey cocktails, so despite the high price tag, I knew I needed to give this a shot.


ABV: 12.8%

Style: Rye Beer

Trivia: According to the brewery website, “Here at Brooklyn Brewery, we are, of course, beer people. But we are also ‘drinks people,’ and many inspirations come to us out of the deep and wondrous world of cocktails. While surely invented earlier, the modern cocktail emerged in the 19th century. The original—the ur-cocktail, if you will—was the Old Fashioned. A deceptively simple drink consisting of whiskey, sugar, and bitters (stirred, not shaken), usually with a bit of citrus peel, a good Old Fashioned remains a thing of austere beauty. By the 1860s, some bartenders, Jerry Thomas (aka ‘The Professor’) chief among them, became household names in America. A mixologist (believe it or not, the moniker is actually old) looking to make a name for himself would often make a change to an existing cocktail, perhaps adding absinthe, or curaçao, or a dash of maraschino liqueur. This new version would be rakishly referred to as ‘improved,’ as the upstart barman fervently hoped to eclipse his predecessor. Well, we’ve gone this idea one better. We have ‘improved’ the Old Fashioned by making it into a beer. Witness our strong rye beer, suffused with various spices and peels! Wonder at its long blissful rest in WhistlePig Rye Whiskey oak barrels! Marvel at its clever infusions of bitter gentian root and enticing botanicals! And then enjoy, as you are greeted by the silky spice of rye, the firm herbal bitterness, the brightness of citrus, and the sweet warmth of oak. Sit in your favorite chair, surround yourself with your favorite people, and imbibe this, our latest Brooklyn Quarterly Experiment. We can nearly guarantee that you shall feel that your day has, in fact, improved.”

Random: I loved Garrett Oliver’s book. It really opened my eyes to beer and food pairings.

This beer poured with a quarter finger of white head. It dissipated quickly and left no lacing on the glass. The body was a dark brown color with high carbonation. The nose was incredibly fragrant and complex. It started with rye spice and orange zest. Oak came through as well with maraschino cherry juice and orange oil. The taste started with warm vanilla and oak. It quickly went into orange zest and orange oil. Rye came through as well, but not as strong as the nose. There was a spice to it that was assertive. The maraschino cherry juice was there too, but not as strong as the nose. The body was thick, but the high carbonation made this really drinkable. It had a lengthy finish with rye and oak. A bottle of this was $23.99 ($1.09 per ounce), which I found to be quite expensive. This was a really unique, interesting beer.

Untappd Rating: 4.5/5.0