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Smuttynose Stone Cluster's Last Stand - Smuttynose Brewing Company

Not Rated.
Smuttynose Stone Cluster's Last StandSmuttynose Stone Cluster's Last Stand

Educational use only; do not reuse.
very good

59 Reviews
no score

(Send Samples)
Reviews: 59
Hads: 426
Avg: 3.82
pDev: 29.58%
Wants: 16
Gots: 88 | 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: Reviews & Ratings
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Reviews: 59 | Hads: 426
Reviews by seplo:
Photo of seplo
4.25/5  rDev +11.3%

More User Reviews:
Photo of Stinkypuss
4.02/5  rDev +5.2%
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.

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Photo of ErockRPh
4.5/5  rDev +17.8%

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.

 507 characters

Photo of kojevergas
2.88/5  rDev -24.6%
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.


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Photo of superspak
4/5  rDev +4.7%
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.

 1,496 characters

Photo of jlipin8622
2.88/5  rDev -24.6%
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!)

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Photo of maximum12
1.9/5  rDev -50.3%

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.

 879 characters

Photo of oberon
3.58/5  rDev -6.3%
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.

 456 characters

Photo of Tiernan
4/5  rDev +4.7%

Photo of woodchipper
4/5  rDev +4.7%

Photo of lordofthewiens
3.75/5  rDev -1.8%

A solid beer, not spectacular.

30 characters

Photo of Afroman
3.5/5  rDev -8.4%

Photo of petewheeler
4/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Photo of mmcurran
3.44/5  rDev -9.9%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

Photo of olradetbalder
3.64/5  rDev -4.7%

Photo of alienlifeforcecube
3.75/5  rDev -1.8%

Photo of bpfrush
4/5  rDev +4.7%

Photo of BurgeoningBrewhead
3.75/5  rDev -1.8%

Photo of Tilly
3.94/5  rDev +3.1%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Pours a nice orange colour with a small white head.
Fruit and hop aroma.
Nice taste of tropical fruits, caramel, citrus, and slightly peppery.
Crisp, slight bitter finish. Very nice drinks.
Great collaboration from Smuttynose and Stone.

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Photo of acurtis
3.25/5  rDev -14.9%

Photo of sourd
3.25/5  rDev -14.9%

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.

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Photo of Carlalwin
3.68/5  rDev -3.7%

Photo of Neil_dockery
3.04/5  rDev -20.4%

Photo of dmachado
3.75/5  rDev -1.8%

Photo of Griffith
3.75/5  rDev -1.8%

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Smuttynose Stone Cluster's Last Stand from Smuttynose Brewing Company
86 out of 100 based on 59 ratings.