2016 Beer Guide: The Northeast

Over six weeks, we tested 81 beers from 26 breweries located across nine states and Canada for the 2016 Beer Guide. Testers used the Beer Score Sheet from the Beer Judge Certifications Program (bjcp.org) to evaluate each beer. “Traditional beer judging is based on how close to a style a beer is,” said homebrewer and test manager Jeff Schwartz. “We were more subjective with it. Admittedly, there was quite a bit of personal preference.”

From backyard brews to big business beers, we have parsed out some of our selects from across the country. In this week’s installment of our 2016 Beer Guide, we look to the Northeast, where winters are harsh, but beers are smooth and refined.



Maine Beer Company

King Titus American Porter
Freeport, ME | ABV: 7.5%

The Maine Beer Company could be the Patagonia of the beer world, known increasingly for its social mission. Titus, for instance, is named after the silverback gorilla studied widely by The Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund. Testers didn’t know the backstory, though, and judged this beer purely on its merits. “Smooth and roasty aroma,” noted our resident pro brewer, adding further props for its “super smooth flavor and mouthfeel.” One of our beer judges said simply this: “Heavenly.”








Lawson’s Finest Liquids

Super Session #2
Warren, VT | ABV: 4.8%

The problem with a lot of “session” IPAs is while they are sometimes half the ABV of a “double” IPA, they’re also half the flavor. Like rock without the roll, it’s tough to get that big, bold hoppiness. And it’s taken even the best brewers a couple shots to get it right. In it’s second iteration, Super Session nailed it, according to our testers. “Feels like my mouth is waking up to Rush’s Tom Sawyer,” one tester said. “I don’t feel bad about drinking sip after sip like I do with (Lawson’s flagship brew) Sip of Sunshine (8% ABV).” Said our homebrewer, “The body is light but well masked by the hop flavor.”




Lost Nation Brewing

The Wind Bretta
Morrisville, VT | ABV: 4.3%

Hopped with Citra and grapefruit, The Wind is Lost Nation’s latest Gose—a style unique for its natural carbonation. Our testers, many of whom made references to drinking bubbly, styled it a celebration beer. “Drinks like champagne,” said one. “The salty Gose characteristics pair well with the Citra hops. Lots of subtle things going on here.” Said another, “Grapefruit, plus orange, plus lemon. Oh my! Fun beer, lots going on. Good beer to have with eggs and toast. I like it more with every sip.”






Simple Roots Brewing Co.

Citra and Amarillo
Burlington, VT | ABV: 5.1%

Fashioned in Simple Roots’ three-barrel brewery, Citra and Amarillo only comes out in 93-gallon batches, making it a hard find outside of the Green Mountains. But, said testers, it’s worth the search if you’re in northern Vermont. “A very easy drinking pale ale with a wonderfully big hop aroma and flavor,” said one fan. Another summed up the C&A this way: “Great aroma. Hops dominate the light malt. Dry. Lots of aroma, lots of flavor and a creamy, thick head.”







Von Trapp Brewing

Stowe, VT | ABV: 6%

Like with all von Trapp beers, inspiration for Trösten comes from the old world. Trösten, in fact, is German for comfort. After a few pints of this smoked lager, our testers were filled with gemütlichkeit: that German word with no direct English translation but conveying a state of warmth, contentment and good cheer. “The smoke flavor and malt character make this a great après-ski beer,” said our chief revelry officer. “The crisp and clean flavor makes it easy to enjoy more than one.”







Frost Beer Works

Heavy Imperial Stout
Hinesburg, VT | ABV: 8%

The overwhelming oatiness in Frost Beer Works’ Heavy Imperial Stout had our testers heading to the barn for more. While some non-stout fans were a bit “meh,” all agreed that this is a well-executed beer and full of character and complexity for such a traditionally simple brew. “Chocolate, refreshing, nutty,” said our staffer. One IPA-head was convinced: “Good ol’ stout,” he said. “It’s hard to go wrong. Not huge, not watery. Grab a growler or a couple of bombers and enjoy a few.”




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