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.
Last month, a fellow wannabe beer snob friend went on an adventure to Massachusetts and decided to make a pit stop at Tree House Brewing Company. It’s one of those top tier breweries you hear about often in the northeast and since there’s virtually no distribution footprint, getting your hands on some can be pretty tricky, so when he offered to pick me up some, I couldn’t say no. While he snatched up a total of two cases worth, for other people too, I asked for an assorted four-pack, knowing I planned to review one here. He gave me two limited releases and two of Tree House’s more standard releases – and ranked them for me. But I wanted to review the one I had long been curious about, a beer others could grab in the future, and so I set aside Mega Treat and Juice Project and turned my focus to one of the brewery’s most notable beers, Very Green.
Very Green was the first beer I cracked from the four-pack, my very first beer from Tree House, so obviously I was excited to dissect it a little bit and see what the fuss was about. Founded in 2011 in a small central Massachusetts barn, the brewery started with a five gallon cooler and has since evolved into three locations, plus an upcoming Cape Cod spot, including a 60-barrel, German-engineered brewhouse. Proud to call itself an independent craft brewer, Tree House continues to earn a slew of prestigious honors as one of the country’s greatest beer-producers. Working on a rotating release model, there’s a couple of beers you can find with regularity, like Tree House’s flagship effort, Julius, and everything else changes regularly depending on availability.
Ranked No. 7 on BeerAdvocate’s list of the best New England IPAs, a list where the brewery holds eight of the top 10 spots, Very Green is a 8.3% ABV Double IPA with what Tree House calls a “massive kettle charge of Australian and American hops.” It comes in an all green label, of course, with Tree House’s logo front and center. There’s nothing overly fancy about the look but since it’s a beer based on reputation, it makes the label even that much more eye-catching. Call it brand-awareness, if you will. And the best part is, Tree House gives a lengthy summary of what’s inside their cans, so Very Green’s description definitely boasts it being a massive juicebomb, thanks to sweet malt that “intermingle with straight Tropicana juice” which gives way to an abrupt pointed bitterness.
It had been canned almost a month ago on Nov. 3, so freshness wasn’t an issue.
I started by cracking this beer open and planning on pouring it right into my Northern Brewer IPA glass but I got a little distracted by the aroma. The nose on this beer is borderline perfect, with plentiful notes of dank citrus, from honeydew to cantaloupe to pineapple. There’s also an undertone of earthiness. If I’m drinking a DIPA, this is the smell I always hope to whiff. And the pour aligned with the smell, as something very on point, something I anticipated.
Very Green poured a hazy, orange juice-looking color, and has a heaping straw-colored head, about three fingers worth, though I did put a little extra elbow grease in my pour to get the best look. This beer is perfect for Instagram, from the label to the pour to the overall look – so go ahead and snap it.
The mouthfeel also shined here, with a complex carbonation that helped to accentuate a soft, pillowy and smooth texture. But what about the taste? Well, I got a lot of citrus on the front-end, mainly some melon and orange with the kind of dankness the label emphasized. There’s a lot more piney bitterness to this beer than I was actually expecting. It’s called Very Green and for a very good reason. I thought it was balanced quite beautifully, however – the piney, grassy bitterness and the dank, citrusy juiciness.
Very Green basically takes the kind of DIPA I loved a decade ago, one that tasted almost entirely like a pinecone, and time traveled in a DeLorean to present day to add in the juiciness of the New England IPA. I really struggled to find anything about this beer I don’t love. And when I went on to BeerAdvocate to see what the people think, it’s clear I’m not alone in my praise. The website itself gave Very Green a world-class 100 rating and the average score was 4.69 out of 5.0, based on 1,449 ratings. That’s an insane score for beer rated that many times. As for my score, I would have to give Very Green a 9.25 out of 10 and, if my memory is correct, I think only a couple of beers have earned a higher rating. It was a pleasure to drink Very Green and I cannot wait to try the other three but, sorry, I’m just going to keep those ratings to myself.
The last line of the label summary says: “This is the very best beer we can offer you.” I believe that’s true and now I know that Tree House isn’t just overhyped. Those folks know exactly how to make a memorable beer.
Stay tuned next week, because I might try something from your favorite brewery.