Smuttynose Stone Cluster's Last Stand | Smuttynose Brewing Company

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

Brewed by:
Smuttynose Brewing Company
New Hampshire, United States

Style: American IPA

Alcohol by volume (ABV): 8.30%

Availability: Rotating

Notes / Commercial Description:
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.

Added by johnnnniee on 07-28-2013

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Reviews: 59 | Ratings: 434
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.

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Photo of tjdrewry
4.5/5  rDev +17.8%

Drank this one side by side with the recreation of Ballantine's IPA. Both are excellent beers, and the malt profiles are remarkably similar. Cluster's differs in an enjoyable raw piquancy to the hop flavor- Ballantine's reliance on more contemporary hop varieties lends smooth, subtle pine notes whereas Cluster's use of traditional hops highlights flavors reminiscent of sharp fermented berries. I love the straight-up west coast hop-bombs, but these throw-back IPAs offer some nice diversity.

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Photo of rudzud
4.34/5  rDev +13.6%
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.

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Photo of scootny
4.33/5  rDev +13.4%
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

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Photo of TheManiacalOne
4.32/5  rDev +13.1%
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.

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Photo of neenerzig
4.29/5  rDev +12.3%
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.


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Photo of Chickenhawk9932
4.27/5  rDev +11.8%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4 | taste: 4.5 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Pours a light golden amber with a frothy white that hangs around a little and leaves some nice lacing.

Smell is pine and citrus vying for dominance with some subtle floral notes and underpinnings of musty earth giving it a dank aroma.

A bitter punch of resinous pine and bitter citrus up front with a faint malt middle and some ghost like biscuit notes. It finishes with a dry oily floral hop coating. This was not love at first sip but was enjoying it thoroughly half way down the glass. Not the greatest IPA but very good and unique. This one Stands Alone.

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Photo of brureview
4.25/5  rDev +11.3%

I was not expecting to fully enjoy this beer- I was quite surprised.

Pours an amber color in a tulip with a 2F head.

The aroma was earthy, mild citrus, and piney which eventually faded.

The taste is citrus and pine.

The focal point of this beer is the finish. It's excellent: piney, hoppy bitterness. Tart and refreshing.
There is a bit of dryness to the finish.

The Bullion and the Cluster hops give the beer good bittering notes. The Brewers Gold and East Kent add to the finish. Yeast: White Labs WLP-001 American Ale (widely rumored to be the original Ballantine strain) I haven't tasted the Ballantine IPA, an inspiration to craft brewing.

One drinks this beer for the finish and mouth feel. Worth checking out.

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Photo of JAFoley
4.25/5  rDev +11.3%

A - Hazy golden amber body with bubbly white head. Good retention and lacing.

S - Tangy sour citrus fruits

T - Fresh citrus and floral hops upfront. Not overly bitter. Sugary caramel malts come in but recede quickly leaving you with a hoppy aftertaste.

M - Medium body with moderate/high carbonation. Sticky and syrupy.

O - Really great brew. Love to see the Stone brewers connection. I'm really glad to see such a quality beer being brewed in my home town.

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Photo of RacerX5k
4.22/5  rDev +10.5%
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.

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Photo of Goblinmunkey7
4.18/5  rDev +9.4%
look: 4.25 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.5 | overall: 4.25

Bottle 974/1044.

Appearance: Slight haze on a bright dark gold/light amber color. Head is white and creamy. Leaves sheets and notches of sticky lacing. Decent retention leaves a 1/2 cm cap and collar. Moderate carbonation. It's pretty.

Smell: Straight up hit of fresh pineapple. Tangerine flesh and zest. Bright and tropical. Follows Smuttynose hopping closer than Stone, not too aggressive. Gummi worms and peach. Some melon as well. This is a crazy weird hop. Malts are nice and bready with a bit of caramelized malt sweetness. A slight hint of alcohol. Nicely floral as it warms. Some biscuit dough as well. Vaguely herbal as well.

Taste: A bit more bitter than the nose would indicate, but not too much. Malts run bready and slightly sweet with an undercooked biscuit dough quality. It's really about the hops. Tropical and somehow balanced. Loaded with pineapple and peach. Adds some tangerine zest and flesh as it warms. Pithy bitterness coupled with a decidedly floral edge. Drops a bit of the bitterness as it warms. Vaguely minty. Alcohol creeps out after a few sips. Finishes with a lingering leafy hop. Some pine.

Mouthfeel: Smooth with a medium body and moderate carbonation. A bit more wet on the sip than expected.

Overall: I'll stand by you.

This beer does what it should. Smuttynose tempers the Stone aggression, but Stone gives it a beefier malt backbone. This is a genuine collaboration and it wins.

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Photo of are_doubleyou
4.15/5  rDev +8.6%
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.

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Photo of craftbeersweden
4.11/5  rDev +7.6%
look: 4 | smell: 4.25 | taste: 4 | feel: 4 | overall: 4.25

Clear amber beer with a two finger high, beige head. A lot of lacing stays on the glass.

Nose: Orange, apricot, sweet malt, pine, herbs, citrus and grass in the background.
Taste: Hops, great bitterness with enough sweet malt that balance the bitterness. Grapefruit, orange and citrus. Floral hops, grass.
Body: Medium to full body. Medium carbonated. Just right "crispyness" from the carb. A high but balanced bitterness. The 8.8% ABV is very well hidden.

This is such a great IPA! Smuttynose and Stone has done it again! But on the other hand, what would you expect...?

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Photo of AndyAvalanche
4.1/5  rDev +7.3%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.75 | taste: 4.25 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4

22 oz. bomber (bottle 963/1044) poured into a larger version of the Sam Adams Perfect Pint Glass. Liquid portion comes out a nice orange color with a slight haze to it. WHen held up to any portion of the light it glows a nice orange color, doesn't matter how much light, as long as there's a little, it does it. Nice white head with mostly small bubbles, but a few larger bubbles creep their way in. Crazy good lacing to this, this is an outstanding looking IPA.

Smell is pretty good, not quite as potent as I would expect, but still good. Absolutely some pale and caramel malts. Hops as most often the case are the dominant feature. Some slight tropical fruits and a little clementine peel, but mostly you get some sticky pine sap aromas.

Taste is as good, but a little stronger than you'd expect based on the smell. The pale and caramel malts definitely provide a slight natural sweetness. Pine flavors are the most dominant hop profile, cluster, tomahawk, and bullion are hops as far as my understanding here. Really good balance, there's a solid malt backbone and hops that don't dominate but are present.

Mouthfeel is a really good part of the tasting. It's close to full bodied, but probably more medium. A nice carbonation level and not much of a bite from the hops. Nice sweet start with a nice bitter and dry finish. Really good lingering taste. Drinkability is top notch. Like this beer quite a bit.

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Photo of MisSigsFan
4.07/5  rDev +6.5%
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.

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Photo of GreesyFizeek
4.05/5  rDev +6%
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.

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Photo of Flounder57
4.05/5  rDev +6%
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.

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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 cindyjeffsmith
4/5  rDev +4.7%
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.

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Photo of HipCzech
4/5  rDev +4.7%

Serving: 650 mL bottle poured into an IPA glass (marked "best before 03/03/15").

Appearance: Deep, clear golden amber. Frothy, lasting white head with good lacing.

Smell: Herbal, resinous hops with a bit of citrus.

Taste: Malty body with slight honey sweetness and herbal, earthy notes (sweet tea). Dry, hoppy bitter finish.

Mouthfeel: Medium body and low carbonation.

Overall: A very drinkable, balanced and malty IPA. Plenty of hop character, but more herbal than assertive citrus.

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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.

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Photo of rapayn01
3.99/5  rDev +4.5%
look: 4.5 | smell: 3.5 | taste: 4 | feel: 4.25 | overall: 4.25

The bottle was a bit past the "best by date" (March 2015), but the beer was tasty. The hop was a bit out of the norm, but it is definitely an IPA. A DIPA, actually, packing a real wallop.

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Photo of neurobot01
3.99/5  rDev +4.5%

Some of the flavors that popped into my head while I drank this: butterscotch, shallots, lavender. Suffice to say, it's a pretty unique beer. If it were an American barleywine out of FFF, I'd have an easier time wrapping my head around the flavor profile. Nonetheless, pretty good, and manages to avoid being overly malty for my tastes (not a given when an East Coast brewery is involved).

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Photo of smakawhat
3.98/5  rDev +4.2%
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.

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Photo of johnnnniee
3.97/5  rDev +3.9%
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.

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Smuttynose Stone Cluster's Last Stand from Smuttynose Brewing Company
3.82 out of 5 based on 434 ratings.
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