Welcome to Thirsty Thursday, a weekly column where we pick a beer from our fridge and review it, because in a world where two new breweries launch every single week, sometimes we need some help sifting through all of the hops.
This time of year typically dictates what I’m going to drink. From a purely social aspect, with the National Football League playoffs in full swing, I’m often getting together with others to watch the games. Last weekend was no different, when I had friends over to watch the Divisional Round and, of course, friends never show up empty-handed but instead bring all kinds of brews.
Now, before I delve into this week’s featured selection, which a friend found at a local beer store and brought over for the late afternoon game between the Philadelphia Eagles and New Orleans Saints, I’ll be brutally honest and admit that before I tasted this specific beer, I had never heard of the brewery and had no idea where exactly it was located. Having said that, this week’s selection is from Heretic Brewing Company – it’s a New England-style IPA called Make America Juicy Again, an obvious play on the now overused catchphrase of President Donald Trump.
Situated between Sacramento and San Francisco, Heretic was founded in 2011 by Jamil Zainasheff, a very distinguished homebrewer. The name, according to Brewbound, is because craft beer drinkers are different from the crowd, especially since 90 percent of consumers think mass market light lagers constitute the universe of beer. It’s certified independent craft by the Brewer’s Association but, outside of that, I wasn’t able to find all that much information on Heretic, other than it has an arsenal of nine year-round beers and another two dozen or so that are specialty releases – Make America Juicy Again is one.
Like many of Heretic’s beer, this one seems to almost have a backstory. The brewery claims that it’s not about big football commercials and fancy packaging but the liquid in the can, noting: “we spent our money (which is your money if you think about it) on an insane amount of the best hops available, so the can ain’t fancy, but the beer certainly is.” This beer is also described as being dry-hopped for a hazy, luscious taste, for a gentle bitter and juicy profile. I already feel like I’ve said juicy too many times but Heretic really drives that point home in describing this beer and if it’s like they say it is, I might be in for a treat.
As the company said, there’s nothing fancy about the can. It’s your standard 12-ounce aluminum can with a sticker label wrapped around it, looking more like something your buddy homebrewed in his basement than a beer available from one coast to another. No information, no art, just the name in orange, the company’s logo and the category of this 6.5 percent alcohol by volume beer. There’s something to be said about simple.
The first thing I do with a beer like this one is take a big whiff when I crack it open. The aroma was good but nothing really to write home about, in that it certainly featured a citrusy, orange peel smell but it was a little masked by a grain or wheat-like scent. I might’ve been hoping for a little too much given my recent kick of high ABV northeastern Double IPAs. Make America Juicy Again is gold in color and maybe just a little lackluster in the haze department but it’s really well (moderately) carbonated with a significant amount of white head upon pouring and both last until the end.
The taste really reflects the aroma, though it emphasizes the juiciness a bit more. You can really note the citrus peel. It’s a little more on the sweeter side which isn’t a bad characteristic for a New England-style IPA – not to mention that hint of bitterness at the tail end, which lingers. I enjoyed that. Still, the juiciness is fighting the yeast flavor.
Overall, I thought the juicy factor was nice but I would’ve perhaps liked it amped up maybe just a little, because I feel like it’s trying to overpower the yeasty taste that makes its way through. It’s a pretty drinkable beer, though probably one for after you’ve tried that top-end beer you’ve been saving for a while or purchased to impress you friends. I like the taste but I think Heretic missed the mark just a smidge, especially when touting its overall juiciness. I’m not exactly sure what a six-pack runs, so you’re on your own with this one. The average score on BeerAdvocate is 4.02 out of five, which I think might be a little high, so I give it a 6.3. It’s solid but wouldn’t be even close to my first choice if I’m looking for a NEIPA.
Stay tuned for next week, because I might just try something from your favorite brewery.