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Sunday, January 27, 2008

New England Sea Hag IPA

The legend of the Sea Hag? Bogus, according to Fortune. Excellent book material, according to me. But really...who the hell wants read it when they can drink it instead?

New England Brewing has revived under the can-filling hands of Rob Leonard. I remember drinking my share (and more) of the brewery's excellent oatmeal stout and stock ale back in the late 1980s and early 1990s; my first and only tour of the Norwalk brewery in 1993 was when I met Phil Markowski, who was the head brewer at the time. The brewery flailed and failed, Leonard bought the rights and recipes in 2001, and started canning soon afterwards.

Sea Hag IPA was not one of the recipes he bought. That was created in 2006. I realized tonight, as I was casting about for something to post about to make my goal of an average of a post a day for my first year of blogging (you can make up for lost time), that while I've talked about the other three canned beers I took along over New Year's Day -- Oskar Blues Old Chub, and Sly Fox Pikeland Pils and Phoenix Pale Ale, I hadn't said a word about the Sea Hag. Happily I had two cans left in my frigid garage, so bang, done! I popped one and poured it into the slick Budweiser gimme glass I got at the Cheers Conference last week (we got a lot of glasses: this was the only one I didn't leave in the hotel room, it just felt good in my hand...I mean, is anyone surprised that A-B can afford a nice glass?).

Sea Hag is coppery-translucent, which kind of gives you that premonition that it's chock-full of hop-stuff. The nose confirms it: citrus/grapefruit/orange, with a strong underlying juicy malt sweetness. The body's rather light, which I guess surprises me: this is more in the light-framed IPA category where I place Bell's Two-Hearted, but it's not as brisk as Bell's. The hops are definitely bitter-forward, maybe a bit too blaring, but the malt sweetness, even in the light-bodied frame, puts the contrast to it. As we noted in Virginia, the Hag is awfully drinkable, sliding down pretty quickly. And wow, some of the best hop belches I've had in a while. (Don't go "eeeewww!", you know what I'm talking about!)

Verdict: good, even very good, but not great. The aroma's real nice, and I like the light body, but there's just something a bit rough about the way this one integrates. Might be better on tap, and I look forward to trying that. Because, you know, "very good" sure ain't bad at all.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I agree it's a little rough...and I think it's because of the caramel malts used. It's a basic mix of Hallertau and Cascade hops throughout...and like you said, a good beer altogether. Could it be better? Sure. But as a works for me.