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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

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BA SCORE
85
very good

393 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 393
Reviews: 60
rAvg: 3.79
pDev: 11.08%
Wants: 17
Gots: 79 | 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: 393 | Reviews: 60 | Display Reviews Only:
Photo of Sammy
3.5/5  rDev -7.7%

Photo of UCLABrewN84
3.96/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 3.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 4

Best by 3/5/15. 8.8% ABV per the label.

Pours a hazy orange with a foamy tan head that settles to a partial film on top of the beer. Foamy swaths of lace form around the glass on the drink down. Smell is of malt, citrus fruit, citrus zest, and slight herbal hop aromas. Taste is much the same with citrus fruit, citrus zest, and grapefruit juice flavors on the finish. There is a mild amount of hop bitterness on the palate with each sip. This beer has a lower level of carbonation with a slightly crisp mouthfeel. Overall, this is a good beer that is tasty and easy to drink without any real alcohol presence despite its higher ABV percentage for the style.

Serving type: bottle.

Photo of djrn2
3.6/5  rDev -5%

Photo of zestar
3.75/5  rDev -1.1%

Photo of acurtis
3.25/5  rDev -14.2%

Photo of nmann08
3.25/5  rDev -14.2%

Photo of kjkinsey
3.75/5  rDev -1.1%

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 olradetbalder
3.64/5  rDev -4%

Photo of kylehay2004
3.25/5  rDev -14.2%

Photo of ygtbsm94
3.74/5  rDev -1.3%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Aroma tangerine, oranges, floral,faint dank & grassiness, hint caramel. Taste lemon & orange zest, herbal, floral, grass, biscuit. Nice!

Photo of brentk56
3.39/5  rDev -10.6%
look: 4.25 | smell: 3.25 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.25

Appearance: A nice bubble show produces a two inch head; the liquid underneath is hazy and honey colored; spotty lacing abounds

Smell: Caramel and dough tones forward, with vegetal, earthy hop tones; just a touch of pith

Taste: Doughy with with a tilt toward the caramel, up front, with vegetal, earthy hop tones building; there is a touch of stone fruit and pith in the middle but the finish brings a return to the sweeter malt tones; surprisingly, the assertive balsa wood bitterness is what lingers in the aftertaste; very bitter but not particularly flavorful

Mouthfeel: Medium body with moderate carbonation

Overall: Can't say I much care for this and if this is what the Ballantine IPA tasted like, it is no wonder that macro lagers took over

Photo of SocalKicks
3/5  rDev -20.8%

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

Photo of Kegatron
3.75/5  rDev -1.1%

Photo of oline73
3.9/5  rDev +2.9%
look: 4 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Photo of DrunkinYogi
3.75/5  rDev -1.1%

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 DrBier
4/5  rDev +5.5%

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 Georgiabeer
4/5  rDev +5.5%

Photo of ejimhof
3/5  rDev -20.8%

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 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 billab914
3.75/5  rDev -1.1%

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Smuttynose Stone Cluster's Last Stand from Smuttynose Brewing Company
85 out of 100 based on 393 ratings.