Smuttynose Stone Cluster's Last Stand - Smuttynose Brewing Company

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Smuttynose Stone Cluster's Last StandSmuttynose Stone Cluster's Last Stand

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BA SCORE
85
very good

413 Ratings
THE BROS
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no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 413
Reviews: 67
rAvg: 3.79
pDev: 11.08%
Wants: 18
Gots: 83 | FT: 1
Brewed by:
Smuttynose Brewing Company visit their website
New Hampshire, United States

Style | ABV
American IPA |  8.30% ABV

Availability: Rotating

Notes & Commercial Description:
Beer added by: johnnnniee on 07-28-2013

Old, new? It’s all the same, really. Cluster’s Last Stand defies the commonly  accepted notion that strong, hoppy beers are recent arrivals on the US beer landscape. Smuttynose has teamed up with Stone Brewing Company to recreate the original, post-Prohibition Ballantine IPA recipe. That’s right; strong, 60 IBU beer was brewed in the 30’s. How do we know? We read it in Stone Brewmaster Mitch Steele’s excellent and well-researched book, “IPA, Brewing Techniques, Recipes and the Evolution of India Pale Ale.” The only difference  between this beer and more contemporary IPAs are the hop varieties: Cluster, Brewers Gold, Bullion and East Kent Goldings. None of these are trendy and we were a little surprised to find out that all four were readily available. The result is a rich, copper-colored ale with a strong, refined hop profile of spiciness with a hint of grapefruit.
Beer: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 413 | Reviews: 67
Reviews by RacerX5k:
Photo of RacerX5k
4.22/5  rDev +11.3%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Based on the original post prohibition Ballantine IPA recipe and a privlege to try this one. Must have been one kick ass beer back in the day. I'm old enough to remember the Ballantine advertising and may have even had one of their beers as a kid.

Beautiful golden color, haze. Big bitter hop aroma and taste, pine and grapefruit. Simple, straightforward, in your face with a big malt presence to back it up. Drinkable, creamy mouthfeel and pretty damn thick. Beer sizzles on the palate. Very dry and yes, very bitter, the bitterness lingers the way my favorite ipas do. This is beer. Really enjoyed reading all about the history of Ballantine brewing yesterday. Good to revisit something from earlier, simpler times.

More User Reviews:
Photo of Stinkypuss
4.02/5  rDev +6.1%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a copper color with a white soapy head that leaves sheets of lace. The aroma has pine, woods, tea and a faint lemon citrus. The taste reminds me of a modest barleywine or a rather large ipa. Pine, grapefruit pith, and tea meld with brown sugar, toffee and caramel. Full bodied, big assed brew. Overall, this tilts the tide towards modern Double IPA territory from a classic English barleywine. Kind of an Albatross but that's not a bad thing.

Photo of ErockRPh
4.5/5  rDev +18.7%

This beer is a collaboration brew based on the Ballantine's IPA recipe in Mitch Steele's IPA book. This tastes nothing like the typical West Coast IPA, but it is fantastic. The nose is catty, with lots of black currant and some lavender floral notes. Flavor is resin, with some fruity currant notes and a bit of floral hops. The malt is on the light side, but some bready Munich notes provide the right balance. Bitterness is sharp and sticky, but fades nicely on the finish leaving you wanting another sip.

Photo of kojevergas
2.88/5  rDev -24%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 2.75 | feel: 2.75 | overall: 3

BOTTLE: 650ml brown glass. Generally appealing label art. Branded pry-off pressure cap. Best by: 03/05/15.

Reviewed live as an IPA, as Smuttynose's website identifies it as such (specifically as a post-prohibition Ballantine IPA recreation). Expectations are average; I like Smuttynose but Stone's involvement always makes me suspicious.

Served cold into a pilsner glass.

No bubble show forms as it's poured.

HEAD: 1 finger wide. Off-white/beige colour. Decent creaminess, frothiness, fullness, and consistency. Nice (~3-4 minute) retention. Leaves an uneven coating of lacing on the sides of the glass as it recedes.

BODY: Standard for an IPA: clean copper colour of average vibrance. Translucent and transparent. Clean, with no visible yeast particulate or hop sediment.

Appears well-carbonated. Very average looking for the style, with no stand-out characteristics. There's nothing egregiously wrong with it.

AROMA: Has more tropical leanings than I anticipated given this is a recreation of a Ballantine brew. Tangerine, melon, clementine, orange, orange zest. It really overdoes it on the caramalt, which concomitantly brings way too much sweetness into play. Thankfully, though, the hop profile seems robust enough to check that malty sweetness with enough bitterness. Pale malt is also present. Some floral character.

I find the fruitiness raw and bit rindy, with an undeveloped young feel to it. It's nicely zesty, though.

Aromatic intensity is below average, but it's not a reticent aroma.

To style, no overt booze, yeast character, or off-notes are detectable. Fortunately, it's not soapy or anything. Suggests a slightly imbalanced brew with some nice fruity tones.

TASTE: The abovementioned rindy raw hop bitterness dominates, to the beer's detriment, with plenty of tropical fruit and zesty character in there as well: tangerine, melon, orange, clementine, orange zest. Hopwise, it also has some floral notes and maybe a bit of overly bitter grapefruit. Lime emerges more and more as it warms. Heavy on the pithiness and bitterness.

It has too much caramalt, which lends the beer too much sweetness towards the end of its second act. Otherwise, the beer is imbalanced in the other direction (i.e. it's overly bitter on account of the overhopping). Pale malts fill out the body nicely but lend little in terms of flavour.

It's uneven structurally and imbalanced throughout, but I do find myself drawn to some of its flavours - particularly the clementine. It does veer briefly into that stale orange juice character you usually find in older IPAs, which I despise.

It's an unpleasantly aggressive brew, and suffers for it. If this is an authentic recreation of a Ballantine IPA, consider me shocked - I had no idea beer was this aggressive back then. But I suspect the overhopping is all Stone's doing, and that this isn't really authentic (regardless of what Mitch Steele has to say on the matter).

Average depth and duration of flavour, with an unexpectedly high flavour intensity. It's the opposite of mellow, and is hard to enjoy as a result. It's complicated for an IPA - which is to say it has plenty of complexity, there's just not much order or focus to it.

I can't say I care for it much, but it does have attributes I appreciate.

TEXTURE: Overcarbonated to the point where it's biting - an unpleasant characteristic especially alongside its overaggressive hop bitterness. That aggressive edge is manifested in the texture as much as it is in the taste, with an unwelcome coarseness emerging in the mouthfeel. Wet but unrefreshing. Medium-bodied but too weighty and thick on the palate. If it had more depth of flavour, its heaviness might be warranted.

Overall, this texture fails to elevate the beer or accentuate any of the constituent notes in the flavour profile (or at least any of the pleasant ones), but it suits the taste decently in a general sense. Some custom-tailoring is needed.

OVERALL: I'm not a big fan of the hop profile showcased here, nor do I think it's an authentic recreation of Ballantine's IPA (but take that with a grain of salt, as I never tried Ballantine's IPA). The whole Ballantine IPA recreation premise does fit Stone's ruthless marketing focus, though, and I don't think it a stretch that Stone - more a marketing company than a brewery - would take advantage of older drinkers' awareness of a historical recipe to ship product. (For the record, other recreations of Ballantine IPA put the ABV much lower than 8.3%). With that in mind, it's nowhere near as drinkable as it should be if it's truly 8.3% ABV. Far from a great brew in the style, and far from Smuttynose's best brew, but I'm not unhappy I tried it once. I've had worse and I've had better, but this is ultimately an average brew. I wouldn't recommend it to friends, and I won't be buying it again.

C

Photo of superspak
4/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

22 ounce bottle into tulip glass, best before 3/5/2015. Pours lightly hazy/cloudy bright orange color with a 1-2 finger dense off white head with good retention, that reduces to a small cap that lingers. Light spotty soapy lacing clings around the glass. Aromas of grapefruit, tangerine, lemon zest, orange peel, herbal, floral, grass, light pine, light caramel, toasted biscuit, and floral/grassy earthiness. Very nice aromas with good balance and complexity of citrus/floral hops and moderate dark/bready malt notes; with good strength. Taste of grapefruit, tangerine, lemon zest, orange peel, herbal, floral, grass, light pine, light caramel, toasted biscuit, and floral/grassy earthiness. Fair amount of herbal/grassy bitterness on the finish; with lingering notes of grapefruit, tangerine, lemon/orange zest, herbal, light caramel, toasted biscuit, and floral/grassy earthiness on the finish for a good bit. Damn nice complexity and robustness of citrus/floral hops and moderate dark/bready malt flavors; with a great malt/bitterness balance and zero cloying flavors after the finish. Medium carbonation and body; with a very smooth and fairly creamy/sticky mouthfeel that is nice. Alcohol is well hidden with only a light warming present after the finish. Overall this is a damn nice historical IPA recreation. All around great complexity and balance of citrus/floral hops and moderate dark/bready malt flavors; and very smooth and crisp to drink for the big ABV. A very enjoyable offering.

Photo of jlipin8622
2.88/5  rDev -24%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 2.5 | feel: 2.5 | overall: 2.75

Pours a beautiful opaque golden orange. In a beer-clean IPA glass, the head maintains at least ten minutes without taking a sip. After taking my initial tasting notes and sipping some more, the head still maintains very well in the glass.

Nose shows orange peel, melon, the slightest bit of overripe banana, and other citrus fruits.

The body is light-medium. Flavors of orange peel and other citrus immediately engulf the palate and linger long after the finish. Wouldn't be able to tell by flavor by itself that this beer comes in at 8.3% ABV, but the body gives more of an indication.

Overall, it's a nice beer, but not something I would continually seek out. The packaging is really cool, but it gave me no indication whether this would be a strong ale or double IPA, and no indication of why they chose "Cluster's Last Stand" as the name. I'm sure it's on the website, but part of the allure of these beers is why they chose the name (even though I bought it anyway!)

Photo of maximum12
1.9/5  rDev -49.9%

Thanks to Joe_Grizzly for this extra in a recent trade box that should really have exploded from the force of the hops contained within. 22 oz. doomed bottle split with my wife.

The pop brings foam fizzing right up to the edge of the bottle: these two breweries didn’t skimp on the carbonation bill. Fake tan orange. Smells orange too, and mango, sweet.

Cluster’s Last Stand is a pretty good name for a beer, but this brew falls to LCCD syndrome (least common collaboration denominator). Butter-sweet malts greet my palate. Sourdough pretzels, orange Tang, nasty earthiness which roars in mid-palate & drowns out everything else. I’ve let it warm up a bit to confirm, but doctor, the patient is dead.

Separately, these two breweries kick some serious IPA ass; together, I’m not sure their foot could reach my ankles. A collaboration gone seriously wrong. Drain pour.

Photo of oberon
3.58/5  rDev -5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.5

Pours into an impy nonic a dull hazed burnt orange with a thinner but well sustained white head atop.More of a juicy fruitiness to the hop aromas like orange and tangerine,big caramel and sweet dough as well.A big malt forward IPA I have to say here,yeasty and doughy,almost like a sweeter midwestern style pizza dough,some juicy tangerine and orange hoppiness comes in the finish.This is a big MALTY IPA,maybe the most malt driven of the style I have had.

Photo of lordofthewiens
3.75/5  rDev -1.1%

A solid beer, not spectacular.

Photo of sourd
3.25/5  rDev -14.2%

12 oz on tap at the beach club

light orange, like a proper nuevo style double ipa

smells like a mango...not mango scented hops, an actual mango.

boozy...tropical boozy

thin and boozy, stickier and stickier as it comes to temp...relatively dry for the style. not a lot of residual sweetness

a slightly above average new style dipa (dirtwolf, sucks, chillwave, etc...). not quite ready to play with the big boys, but close.

Photo of Roguer
3.79/5  rDev 0%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 3.75

Beautiful clear, just slightly hazy orange and copper brew topped by a nice, firm, off-white head. Very good retention, and big flat lines of lacing.

Grapefruit, orange, and pine hop aromas shine through, riding a wave of caramel malt and wheat bread. Very straight forward and direct IPA aroma.

Flavor reflects the aroma. Very bitter and dry up front, followed by a barely sweet caramel malt and grain presence, and finished nicely by bitter citrus peel. A bit of pulpy tangerine and floral notes lighten and sweeten it up from mid to finish.

Lively and bright feel, medium-light, with an oily retention.

This is an old fashioned, straight forward, bitter IPA with a classic profile. Mostly dry hop flavors.

Photo of RickS95
3.72/5  rDev -1.8%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

Pours a golden copper color. Reasonably clear liquid but still dark enough to keep most light out. The head is a dirty white up front, then invisible as it dissipates quickly, leaving just tiny bubbles around the edge.

Mostly piney resins in the nose, with some citrus and grass hiding in the background. The IPA scents are fairly gentle, allowing a bit of the pale malt to come through.

The hops are very prevalent, but kind of hide their indentity as I can't quite pick up all the flavors from the nose. No one flavor distinguishes itself from the hop side, so you can pick up the malt fairly easily.

Very bitter, but not a palate wrecker. There is no transition from sweet or citrusy to bitter, it starts off bitter and stays that way. It scrubs your palate clean with each sip, making it a good beer to have with dinner. Medium bodied.

This is a good collaboration beer, and a manly one at that. Nothing is ever over the top, stopping just short of it.

Photo of bisonfort
4.5/5  rDev +18.7%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.5

Very good. Ipa recipe from the 30s. Got bottle at whole foods.

Photo of scootny
4.33/5  rDev +14.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

A golden amber ale that pouurs frrom a 22 oz bottle. Huge head and chunks of lace on the glasss. Lovely nose offers up aromas of lighe malt, a bakery full of bread, light caramel and tropical fruits. Light citrus and mild peppery alcohol. Taste is caramel and doughy white bread. Crisp bitter finish leaves lingerig notes of alcohol. Supremely drinkable and surprisingly light and crisp. Mild but pleasant carbonation. This seems like a great approximation of old classic Ballentine IPA

Photo of gillagorilla
3.74/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Had on tap at Max's Hopfest (from notes, 8/16-18/13)

A: Golden yellow with a decent head and lacing.

S: Citrusy and floral.

T: Sweet and citrusy. Nice balance with some pine.

M: Even carbonation with a bit of coarseness.

O: It was great to taste a Cluster hopped IPA. Different.

Photo of smakawhat
3.98/5  rDev +5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Poured from the bottle into a Spiegelau IPA glass.

Bright red like orange, with some much lighter lemon yellow hue and highlights through a very nice clear body. Good ample but not overboard carbonation that rises from the bottom very slowly. Head is a bit fluffy and small, with light retention, but settles to a thick two finger cap, smaller than the three finger creation off the pour. Soapy puck and retention, with minimal lacing and no clumps.

Solid hop front. Spicy hop and hints of pine, with a bit of wood and weed like character. Some smoke like embers a bit and not much malt presence. Sort of reminds me a little of the 18th Anniversary by Stone but a little more fruitier on the hop angle and a touch of sweetness giving to orange/tangerine citrus as it warms up. Minimal but basic malt IPA presence presented.

Palate surprisingly lighter than expected, almost like a session IPA. Crisp and some hinting biscuit, but a lighter hop flavor than the nose indicates. Mild juice but fleeting of some tropical notes. Much of the distinct smoke and pine bent seems lost in favor of some small tangerine orange. Very big spicy and peppery like hop finish on the aftertaste, kind of fun.

It at first comes off like a watery session IPA but saves itself a bit with a very unique hop angle. A decent collaborative brew and IPA that I could drink again.

Photo of GreesyFizeek
4.05/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap at the Old Toad in Rochester, NY.

Pours a hazy, nearly opaque orange, with a small, half inch head, and a little bit of lacing.

Smells quite piney and earthy, "dank" would be the word, with some bitter-smelling grapefruit.

This definitely somewhat mirrors the new Ballantine IPA, but is a bit more fruity, than the all-out bitter/oak assault that Ballantine was. I do get lots of pine, flowers, and grassy flavors here, earthy but tasty, with some bitter grapefruit, and juicy orange. There is a sturdy malt backbone here, bready and toasty, but not sweet at all, which is nice. This is quite a steely beer, which I like.

This is medium bodied, with a crisp mouthfeel, and a higher level of carbonation. It is really drinkable, I gulped it down quite quickly.

I think I like the Ballantine IPA better, but this is a really good effort anyway.

Photo of cindyjeffsmith
4/5  rDev +5.5%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Look: Hazy apricot peach. Big fluffy off white head. Nice, messy lacing.
Smell: Subtle pine and floral. a little fruit.
Taste: Much like the nose. Mostly dry. Something different in the finish that must be the Cluster hops.
Overall: Interesting brew.

Photo of metter98
3.56/5  rDev -6.1%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.5

A: The beer is slightly hazy yellow in color and has a moderate amount of visible carbonation. It poured with a half finger high bright white head that quickly died down, leaving a thin layer of bubbles on the surface and a collar consisting of large bubbles around the edge of the glass.
S: Moderate aromas of catnip-like hops are present in the nose. Notes of caramel malts become apparent as the beer begins to warm up.
T: As in the smell, the taste seems to be dominated by Cluster hops, having flavors of catnip and notes of spiciness from the Brewers Gold hops. There is a moderate amount of bitterness.
M: It feels medium-bodied and a little crisp on the palate with a moderate amount of carbonation.
O: This beer was nice and bitter, but the "catty" flavors from the hops weren't really my cup of tea. It's not often that you see Cluster hops so I'm not sure if this becomes an acquired taste.

Serving type: bottle

Photo of MisSigsFan
4.07/5  rDev +7.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Pours a golden yellow with a thick white head. The head dissipates quickly and leaves a bit of lacing. Smell is of orange and earth. A bit of pine as well. Taste follows the nose. Alcohol is hidden well. Mouthfeel is crisp yet a bit heavy. Easy to drink but it's obvious this can't hold up to the modern IPA. Overall a pretty good IPA. I have my doubts this is what the original Ballantine was like but I like it. Not something to go out of your way to get but it's a must try.

Photo of ColdOneKev
3.5/5  rDev -7.7%

A - Slightly hazy copper with a fluffy white head, leaves moderate/heavy lacing.

S - Dank hops, some light biscuit coming through from the malt, very light citrus.

T - More malt than the nose led me to believe, spicy hops, and yes some chalk and metallic characteristics. Slight warmth from the ABV appears very late after the sip.

M - medium body, low carbonation. Dry finish. Bitterness tickles the senses.

O - Definitely a good English style IPA, or pre-prohibition, as indicated by the label. I see more of the Smuttynose contribution than Stone in this brew.

Photo of are_doubleyou
4.15/5  rDev +9.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 4.25

L: Pours a rich golden orange with a moderate white head that vanishes into a fine lace exactly as I want from an IPA. But the beer is more opaque than I would like an IPA and there are minimal signs of carbonation bubbles.

S: A bit of a change from most of the American IPAs that I have been drinking lately. Strong herbal and earthy notes up front with citrus behind them. I don't smell any malt backbone, but it is a very enticing aroma.

T: A bit duller up front than the very crisp flavors that I am accustomed to from AIPAs, but the flavor there is very good and unique. Very nice balance between a bready malt and earthy herbal hops. There are some light citrus notes in the body, but they are more subtle than they are in the aroma. The finish is very earthy with some herbal and light pine resin notes. Very nice and a solid change from the fruity and resiny hop bombs that dominate this style.

F: The mouthfeel is thick and bready. Not what I would expect from an AIPA, but there is a nice tang to it.

O: I think the name says it all. I've heard that Cluster hops are unpopular these days and this beer is a nice showcase for them, but unlikely to convince brewers or consumers to demand more of it. I think this is a very pleasant spin on the American IPA and it's a very refreshing change up for me after the fresh hop season has been bombarding me with fruit and resin. I would highly recommend it to anyone who likes the more subdued English style IPAs or wants to widen their hop palate.

This beer was poured from a 22oz bottle into a Blind Pig mug and enjoyed at apx. 60F.

Photo of gonzo000
3.72/5  rDev -1.8%

Interesting beer - floral hops with a malt finish - wanted to try the original Balentine brew for the historic aspect.

Photo of TheManiacalOne
4.32/5  rDev +14%
look: 4 | smell: 4.5 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

On-tap 10/20/2014 at Doherty's Ale House in Warwick, RI, served in a snifter glass.

A: The beer is a deep amber color, with a large off-white head that fades slowly and leaves a thick lace on the glass.

S: The aroma is a nice blend of floral hops, fruity citrus and caramelized malts.

T: The taste starts out with sweet flavors of citrus and caramel. Then a strong piney hops bitterness comes in. The malt character is hearty and creates a good balance. The after-taste is slightly hoppy and slightly sweet.

M: Crisp and smooth, medium body, medium carbonation, finish is clean.

O: Very tasty, goes down very easily, not too filling, good kick, good representation of style, this is a very good IPA to drink for a long time.

Photo of neenerzig
4.29/5  rDev +13.2%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

Poured into one of my pint glasses out of a 22 oz bomber, this beer pours a fairly cloudy/hazy, medium copper color with a golden hue and a nice white head that is about 1/2 to 2/3 inch thick when first poured along with a somewhat steady stream of little bubbles rising to the top of das beer's surface. Settles to a nice thick ring lining the inside of the glass along with some good sized clusters of film foam layers on the beer's surface along with some pretty good lacing too. Aromas of some caramel, malty sweetness and a nice load of citrus, earthy hoppyness. Has a nice, fresh, floral, citrus hop flavor upfront that gives way to some oh so slightly toasted bready, caramel malt sweetness that gives way back to the hoppy flavors that are going on here. Weird in that regard. Never quite had that in a beer that I can recall before. Cool though. Has a crisp, yet smooth and somewhat frothy, slightly oily/syrupy, medium to full bodied mouthfeel with moderate to heavy carbonation. Easy to drink in the was good beer outh to be, a bit too easily drinkable for an ABV of 8.3%. A very good, solid effort here that is quite enjoyable.

Eric

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Smuttynose Stone Cluster's Last Stand from Smuttynose Brewing Company
85 out of 100 based on 413 ratings.