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.
The end of summer means one final vacation to relax, take in some new sights and try some new beer. A few weeks ago, I took a road trip to New England to stay on Cape Cod while checking out Plymouth Rock, Boston and Martha’s Vineyard in the process. While I sampled local efforts at Black Dog Tavern and toured the Samuel Adams brewery, there was little time to check out some of the hard-hitting breweries that have become notorious throughout the Massachusetts area – I’m looking at you, Trillium Brewing Company and Treehouse Brewing Company. But that didn’t stop me from doing a little research and making a quick pit stop at New England Brewing Company, which just so happened to be along my route home. It was early and pretty quiet at the brewery, so I didn’t stay for a pint but, instead, grabbed several four-packs for both myself and my friends, deciding almost immediately that Spin Cycle #22 needed to be reviewed.
Based just outside of New Haven, Connecticut, New England Brewing Company was founded in 2001 after a brewery with the same name closed its doors, leading then head brewer Rob Leonard to purchase the name, find a location and get to work brewing beer specifically in cans. One relocation, a slew of awards and almost two decades later, NEBCO has over 100 beers in its arsenal with a bunch of standard year-round efforts, which might be why the company claims to have “full flavored craft beer for every season.” The brewery was a cool little warehouse located right off of a busy road and featured a decent-sized taproom to sample what’s being pumped out.
Spin Cycle #22 is a rotating India Pale Ale, or technically a DIPA if you want to get technical about it, that is 8.0 percent ABV and features 50 IBUs thanks in part to Denali, Sabro, Mosaic and Citra hops. NEBCO calls it a “new school DIPA featuring flaked oats and wheat in the mash with Barbarian yeast giving it pineapple, mango and coconut with light bitterness.” Spin Cycle #22 is one in an on-going series of IPAs that features different hop configurations for an ever-changing taste and ABV.
From the looks of it, the packaging has remained mostly the same throughout the series, so if you’re wondering what number Spin Cycle you have in the back of the fridge, check the bottom – it’ll be printed right with the “best by” date. Featuring an orange top and a green and gray theme, this 12-ounce can has a large sudsy washing machine running with jars of hops sitting on top. There’s even a nice little description of the Spin Cycle series, to make sure drinkers are well aware: “What we have here is our ever-changing series of hop focused beers. We change the hops, malt, and ABV with each new batch. Check out our website for details on each batch. Drink it. It’s good.” There’s even a signature of Leonard below for a little more local feel.
The typical nose test offered a lot of the expected aromas like heavy on the tropical, with a little bit of coconut and pineapple mixed in, which is mainly brought about from the hops. But as a whole, it smells a little different than some of the recent DIPAs I’ve enjoyed but that’s not a bad thing and really didn’t come as much of a surprise after looking at it. Pouring this beer brought about a lot of off-white head to coincide with the more amber-looking color, a direct result of the Barbarian yeast, I believe. Honestly, before I even took a sip I could tell this one a slightly different beer than what is considered standard.
As for the taste, I was a little skeptical after the first two steps exhibited some unique results. It was clear Spin Cycle #22 had a medium mouthfeel but it also offered a front-end sweetness that petered off quickly in favor of an abundantly citrusy punch at the end. That punch slightly overpowered the bitterness flavor I normally expect in a beer of this caliber, one that’s had its recipe tinkered for an on-going series like this one. It was sweet, it was citrusy, it was lightly bitter and it was refreshing, checking off a majority of the boxes I look for typically. I think the one big setback was the drinkability. Spin Cycle #22 is complex and NEBCO did a good job with it but I think after one, maybe two, I would want to move on to something else. A little more bitterness wouldn’t have been a bad thing either, despite the company even saying it’s light on the bitterness. I just feel like it would’ve made it a little more of a well-rounded beer.
A four-pack of these cans was $12 at the brewery, which is a pretty good price. I’m not sure what it would wind up costing if you found some at your local beer store – and good luck, because I think NEBCO’s products are tough to find outside of the New England area. I asked about getting some in the Philadelphia area but they don’t distribute here. As for the scoring, there was only one rating on BeerAdvocate and that was a 4.21. I think that’s a little on the higher end. I give Spin Cycle #22 a 7.8 because I can tell that NEBCO put in the work for this beer’s complexity but I think the lack of drinkability hurts it a little here. I would have also liked a little more balance between the citrus and bitterness flavor as well. But still, next time I make that trip, I’ll make another stop and see what they’re brewing up – not to mention, I need to get my grubby mitts on Imperial Stout Trooper when it is in season later this fall.
Stay tuned for next week, because I might just try something from your favorite brewery.