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

415 Ratings
THE BROS
-
no score

(send 'em beer!)
Ratings: 415
Reviews: 67
rAvg: 3.79
pDev: 11.08%
Wants: 16
Gots: 84 | 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.
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Ratings: 415 | Reviews: 67
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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 johnnnniee
3.97/5  rDev +4.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

On tap at the Southern New Hampshire Brewers Fest 7/26/2013
Pours a slightly cloudy light golden color with a smallish head that shows minimal retention. Smells of earthy spicy and floral hops with a moderate amount of bready caramel to back it up. The flavor follows the aroma quite well, lots of hops with a twinge of bitterness backed up by a solid malty backbone. Medium body with a moderate level of carbonation and a sweet slick mouthfeel. Very nice IPA I'm glad I got a chance to try it before the keg evaporated.

Photo of GarthDanielson
3.85/5  rDev +1.6%
look: 3.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 3.75 | overall: 3.75

Poured from a bomber into a shaker pint, the beer is a hazy, caramel-copper coloring, with a fluffy, light, off-white head, and a steady flow of carbonation bubbling throughout the body. Aromas of tangerine and orange peel forward, with pine and resin to follow, and a subtle biscuit backbone. Very balanced and fruity nose. Flavors are caramel tangy sweet forward, with a citrus blend not far behind. Orange peel and tangerine lighten everything up, but there is a pine pitch and bitter hops resin characteristic that heavies up the palate a bit. Dynamic taste profiles. The beer is robust, but remains on the light side in mouth thanks in part to the carbonation. The aftertaste is more of the bitter, piney, sticky hops character, but the citrus has some lingering power, too. Dry, bitter, slightly astringent finish. Good beer!

Photo of Brad007
3.53/5  rDev -6.9%
look: 3.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 3.25 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.75

I've read about this ale and figured I'd finally pick it up.

Pours a cloudy reddish-blonde hue with a big, frothy head into my glass. I didn't realize how strong this was.

Lots of pine bitterness in the nose. Relatively fresh. A hint of buttered bread underneath.

Pine tar on the tongue followed by bitter citrus and buttered bread at the back of tongue.

Bitterness dominates the mouthfeel and it stands out with the use of clusters.

I've seen this beer and Ballantine IPA mentioned in the same breath. I believe the Cluster hops are just one thing in common. This is an old school IPA, perhaps a DIPA in the eyes of some. Worth a shot.

Photo of rudzud
4.34/5  rDev +14.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 4.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.5

Enjoyed on tap at the dive, poured into a tulip.

A -Poured a nice hazy honey orange hue with a one finger creamy white head that fades to leave nice creamy side lacing and a good creamy blanket. Solid, solid.

S - Aromas of some fun hops. Getting faint pine, supper faint dank, light tropic notes, light orange, and I swear I'm getting melon (cantaloupe). Super intriguing!

T - Taste is much more market than the aroma suggests, sweet rich caramel notes, bitter hops, more grapefruit rind than anything. Melon tries to make another appearance though towards the finish. It's pretty fun, though a bit maltier than I like.

M - Mouthfeel is pretty nice for the style, crisp, alcohol is hidden nicely, quite drinkable.

O - Overall I enjoyed this beer a lot, just wish it wasn't as malty. Still though, worth the try.

Photo of clayrock81
3.95/5  rDev +4.2%

Poured an orange body with two finger head that dies slow with lace ring.
Dry, citric hop aroma with some minimal grape and malty sweetness.
Mostly a textbook with a couple of nuances, sharp citric hops dominate taste profile with some floral earthiness and then there's a little grape (tropical fruit) and malt sweetness to add balance.
Finishes dry and worth trying as ABV is hidden and this is a dangerously easy sipper (I killed my draft in no time).

Photo of VelvetExtract
3.69/5  rDev -2.6%
look: 4.75 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.5 | overall: 3.75

A-Pours a hazy orange color. Body still glows however. Big, fluffy white head that refuses to flatten out and laces with incredible consistency.

S-So apparently this is what Cluster hops brings to the table. Clementines, oranges, lemon zest and some flowers and herbs. The aroma is interesting but its not very strong. I do enjoy the doughy malt backing.

T-The hops start off sweet and orangey but then the get very grassy and piney. Its an interesting transformation on the tongue. The hops also present a spruce, herbal and spicy element which is very noticeable. The hoppiness is quite odd and I am unsure if I enjoy it. The malt has texture and plays with notes of dough and caramel.

M-A bit chewy. Sneaky bitterness. Soft bubbles. Booze comes off pretty hot.

O/D-Definitely unique. The hop profile is strange and the malt is very forward. I probably wouldn't buy this again but I am happy I tried it once.

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 lordofthewiens
3.75/5  rDev -1.1%

A solid beer, not spectacular.

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 fredmugs
3/5  rDev -20.8%
look: 3 | smell: 3 | taste: 3 | feel: 3 | overall: 3

3 = good and that's the best thing I can say about this. Had this on draft and it was devoid of aroma and flavor.

Photo of RonfromJersey
3.31/5  rDev -12.7%
look: 3.5 | smell: 3 | taste: 3.5 | feel: 3.25 | overall: 3.25

Burnt orange, a bit murky, lots of carbonation in the body, but a rapidly decaying head that converts to an oil slick with in minutes.

Floral aroma, but weak and unimpressive.

Solid semi-sweet beginning. Earthy hops. Good big bitterness with a snap.

Prickly medium mouthfeel.

An interesting curiosity. Been there, done that, moving on.

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

22 oz bottle best by 03/05/15, so drank it from a stemmed glass nice and fresh, great balanced beer.

Photo of Flounder57
4.05/5  rDev +6.9%
look: 4.75 | smell: 4 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Served on draft in a tulip at the Union Brewhouse in Weymouth.

Appearance: This beer poured a one finger head was poured that reduced to a thin layer. It is a copper color with great clarity and vision of bubbles coming up through the glass. Nice frothy awesome lacing down the glass as the beer was drank.

Smell: Floral, herbal, citrus, tropical, caramel and bready malts. No sign of alcohol. This beer smells great too.

Taste: Balance, balance, balance. This beer tastes as food as it smells and is balanced on top of that. Love it. Need another sip.

Mouthfeel: Smooth, slight booze, medium to full bodied, slight tingly bitterness, and medium carbonation.

Overall: Pretty awesome DIPA. Balanced and deceiving. What else would you want? I know I want more of this soon.

Photo of Kendo
3.89/5  rDev +2.6%
look: 4 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 3.75

A: Poured from the bomber into a Piraat tulip/snifter-type glass. Body is hazy orangey-amber with a small whitish film on top.

S: Nose is very subdued: touch of florally hops is about it. Some modest caramel malt underneath.

T: Begins with a honey/caramel malt foundation. Followed by juicy, fruity hops - not overwhelmingly bitter, just fruity. Touch of bitterness at the finish and lingering into the aftertaste.

M: Medium-to-full in heft; carbonation is smooth and fine, though bringing a touch of sharpness.

O: Good, but not great.

Photo of BEERMILER12
3.87/5  rDev +2.1%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 3.75 | feel: 4 | overall: 4

Best By 03/05/15

A: Pours a golden orange color with 2 fingers of head that retains for a good while

S: A nice mix of citrus and piney hops balanced by a light sweetness and some maltiness

T: Follows the nose. Balanced from the start, with the mix of citrus and pine from the hops riding right alongside the lightly sweet caramel maltiness. Alcohol extremely well hidden by the sweet and bitter notes. Finishes with a very light bitterness

M: Medium bodied with moderate carbonation. Soft, but firm

O: Extremely drinkable and quaffable for being 8.3%. So very well balanced and rounded that it keeps you coming back for more, despite the lack of any relative complexities. Definitely worth a try, if only for the history of the recipe

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Smuttynose Stone Cluster's Last Stand from Smuttynose Brewing Company
85 out of 100 based on 415 ratings.