I was back at the Route 6 Liquor Store down the road a ways. I pop in in at least once a week to help Sue, the storekeeper, update her Beer Menus online. She writes down all the new beers that have arrived and I update her store online when I get home. These visits have been very beneficial to yours truly. Not only do I get to see what new releases have come down the pike, I partake in some wonderful conversation about beer distribution, life in India, Indian food and Indian culture. Sometimes I’m there for 20 minutes learning about life half way around the world. She has made for me a vegetable curry with chapati bread that was pretty damn good.
On this visit, I was surprised to see that she had taken delivery of a beer from Heretic Brewing called Make America Juicy Again. It was their stab at brewing up a hazy, juicy New England style IPA. I had been on a quest to find the NEIPA that came the closest to Heady Topper which reader John from NH send me in a beer trade a while back.
This brew tasting would be special for me. When I was working at the ol’ warehouse, I’d listen to Jamil Zainasheff’s and John Palmer’s podcast Brew Strong during my half-hour commute each way. I had many laughs, and learned quite bit about homebrewing from listening to Brew Strong.
Hey, howdy hey, my brewin’ brothers and sisters…
Jamil (after winning many awards for his homebrews,) turned pro and started up his own commercial brewery, Heretic. Their Evil Twin and Evil Cousin beers are their flagships.
Since I don’t commute to work anymore, I hadn’t listened to Jamil for quite some time, but I’m pleased to announce that Brew Strong is still active on iTunes. I urge you to check out a Brew Strong podcast whenever you can. I just noticed that there’s one on the topic of Whirlpooling from 2/29/16. I just might listen to that one later.
On to the beer at hand. What I know so far is that, in order to craft this NEIPA style of beer, no hops are used until the very, very end, quite possibly when the wort is either cooling or is cooled down. Bunches of hops are added. The wort is then sent to the “whirlpooler” or maybe a centrifuge where solids are removed. Finally off to ferment and ultimately get dry-hopped. That’s what I think happens. I’ll have to research this. Perhaps on a cozy Sunday afternoon when there’s no football on TV.
The name of this beer is perplexing. Make America Juicy Again is a sure imitation of that orange guy’s campaign slogan. But in our case, making America juicy again implies that at some time in the past, America was juicy, and now it’s no longer juicy. Not sure about that.
Enough yappin’. Let’s see what Jamil and company have in store for this admiring fan.
First off, the label on the can only covered half the circumference. The other half is just raw, silver aluminum. I prime candidate for a new updated SPT logo for the site. Alas, the pull tabs are very thin, I had to get a helper to pry up the tab in order to get a fingertip under it to open the can. As the can is finally opened, the beer contents splashed out on my fingers and hands requiring a lick of the beer and a wipe with a paper towel. I hope this is not what they’re talking about making juicy.
The beer poured with a hazy yellow color and filled up the glass with hazy roiling liquid. There was some very, very fine (as in sandpaper fine) silt floating about as a nebula. The head came up a brilliant white, nice and thick. The aroma was slight and it had that familiar sweet hoppy smell.
The taste was not quite what I expected. The mouthfeel was medium on the intake but went rather thin at the swallow (if you can imagine that.) The taste held hints of tropical fruit but there wasn’t a lot to talk about. The beer is definitely a New England style, but nowhere near the likes of Heady Topper or Focal Banger of Alchemist fame. The juiciness is a bit on the weak side.
The hop flavors in the beer are very similar to the other beers I’ve had of this style. Sierra Nevada’s Tropical Torpedo and DFH’s Liquid Truth Serum come to mind. Add MAJA to the list of close but no cigar in the juicy category. They all nail the hop flavor profile nicely. The haze is there as advertised. But the juicy is lacking.
There was a bit of hop zing at the swallow. The beer is said to have 40 IBUs. I can believe it.
Made with Belma, Mosaic and Citra hops. Big & juicy – a grapefruit, lemon, pineapple, mango & tropical fruit bomb with a hint of bitterness for balance.
Belma hops. A new one for me. Mosaic and Citra are a bit more famous and had their day in the sun a couple of years back. The Aussie and New Zealand hops haven’t caught the eyes of brewmasters yet, I guess.
They say that the secret to making a N.E. IPA is to add the hops during the whirlpool. I’m aware of the basics of whirlpooling, but adding hops during this process is something I can’t wrap my head around. Perhaps they mean centrifuge instead of whirlpool. Regardless, both of those devices are out of my financial range as a homebrewer. I’d rather help someone who is experienced in brewing a NEIPA so I can get a clearer insight into the process.
Back to the beer. While MAJA has all the earmarks of a NEIPA, it sadly lacks the over-the-top juiciness of what the best have exhibited. Everything else is great about it. The fruity sweetness and the slight bite at the end makes for good drinking.
If you discover Make America Juicy Again on the shelf at your local beer store, grab it instead of that go-to pale ale or IPA you usually have. Try some MAJA and decide for yourself whether the NEIPA should be its own style or not. There won’t be many left in the fridge when you finally make up your mind.
The SixPackTech summary for Heretic Make America Juicy Again:
Style: New England IPA
Taste: Delicious but slightly lacking in juicy.
Smoothness: Easy drinking with a small nip on the way down.
Bang for the buck: Good. On a Par with other craft beers.
Amount paid: $9.99 for six 12-ounce cans.
Get it again? Yes, I probably will.
Wife’s all-encompassing opinion: Cloudy, yellow. (sniff) Citrusy. (sip) That’s not half bad. (sip) A little dry and bitter but not bad. (sip) It’s actually refreshing. (Care to join me with a beer of your own? Hey! Where ya goin’?)
Heretic Brewing [1:03]