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Saturday, January 16, 2016

Raquette River Brewery

Raquette River Brewing - Small Batches, Big Beers

Deep in the heart of Central New York snow country is a little oasis of warmth known as Raquette River Brewing. Mark Jessie and Joe Hockey of Tupper Lake turned a home-brewing hobby into a thriving business. Established in 2013 but officially opened in March of 2015, Raquette River Brewing is garnering a reputation among New York State beer geeks as a hidden gem. More nano than micro, Raquette River sports 8 taps but is rapidly expanding. 

This month we here at BOTB zeroed in on five of Raquette River's brews: Pale Ale, India Pale Ale, Double IPA, Imperial Pumpkin Ale and Red Ale. While the brewery won no points for clever or unique names for their beers, we quickly forgave them this transgression as we found the beers themselves offered a uniqueness to the palette by adhering to the foundations of each style while simultaneously creating their own singular spin on that style. Not an easy feat.

Without further ado, here's what we thought of some of Raquette River's brews using our usual format of objective description followed by where we would place it on our Overall Impression Scale from "Leave It On The Shelf" to "I Could Drink This" to "Can't Get Enough!" We end each review with a sort of collective stream-of-consciousness off-the-cuff comments faithfully recorded at the time of tasting to preserve their freshness. 



PALE ALE
RAQUETTE RIVER BREWING


The Beer Facts: BREWER: Raquette River Brewing, Tupper Lake, NY; STYLE: Pale Ale; ABV: 5.3; IBUs: 37; HOPS: Cascade

What the Brewer Says: "A light but hoppy flavorful beer. A good summer session beer."

Color: Unfiltered clover honey

Pour: Somewhat less than Decent white lacy head.

Aroma: Initially strong pine, grapefruit hop aroma that dissipates quickly.

Body: Medium

Taste: Citrus hop flavor comes through strongly, nice bitter piney bite with some pale malt behind it.

Overall Impression: Can't Get Enough!

Comments: "More hops in the taste than in the aroma; Nice dry finish; Great Pale Ale; A really good beer!; Clean taste - not overdone; Better than a lot of pales; Has more American Pale Ale flavor than British; This is what I want a Pale Ale to taste like, full of flavor, nicely balanced with a good solid hop presence."


INDIA PALE ALE
RAQUETTE RIVER BREWING


The Beer Facts: BREWER: Raquette River Brewing, Tupper Lake, NY; STYLE: IPA; ABV: 6.8%; IBUs: 65; HOPS: Columbia, Cascade, Centennial. Northern Brewer.

What the Brewer Says: "Full body, balanced, hoppy, but not filling."

Color: Golden

Pour: Better than Decent head

Aroma: Started hoppy - very distinctly - then dissipated quickly to a sweeter,maltier aroma

Body: Medium

Taste: Nice citrus hop flavor with strong toffee, nutty undertones

Overall Impression: Can't Get Enough!

Comments: "More malty than hoppy, but tasty; Aftertaste lingers; Nice mix of sweet and bitter; Terrific beer - would love to see it out on the market more - increase availability; It's got that malty / toffee / biscuit-y taste that compliments the hops giving a little different spin to an IPA; "


DOUBLE IPA
RAQUETTE RIVER BREWING

The Beer Facts: BREWER: Raquette River brewing, Tupper Lake, NY; STYLE: Double IPA; ABV: 8.8%

Color: Dark Amber / orange

Pour: Decent Head

Aroma: Floral, perfume-like

Body: Between Medium and Full

Taste: Nicely bitter, floral hops with toffee, caramel and butterscotch notes

Overall Impression: Can't Get Enough!

Comments: "Strong alcohol taste to this; Distinctive flavor; A really nice beer; So unique - I have to keep tasting it; A snifter beer; Sip and savor beer; Complex flavor; Sweet and herbal aftertaste - maybe even some hint of mint?; Intriguing - an air of mystique; More of that nice toffee malt taste."

IMPERIAL PUMPKIN ALE
RAQUETTE RIVER BREWING

The Beer Facts: BREWER: Raquette River Brewing, Tupper Lake, NY; STYLE: Imperial Pumpkin Ale; ABV: 9.0%

What the Brewer Says: "The beer ages very well. Put a case in your basement and let it age a year. Delicious!"

Color: Dark copper, unfiltered

Pour: A bit under Decent

Aroma: Nutmeg and cinnamon / pumpkin pie spices

Body: Toward Full

Taste: Sweet, with flavors of allspice, nutmeg and cinnamon

Overall Impression: Divided opinions on this one. Falls below "I could drink this, but not "Leave it on the shelf" status.

Comments: "I'm not a huge pumpkin beer fan, but I like this one; A good Thanksgiving beer; Could sneak up on you; The spices are not overpowering so it still tastes like beer; A dessert beer, for sure; This is one of those styles of beer that is very divisive - very popular with some people while others just don't care for it: I'm not a fan, I just don't like this style."


RED ALE
RAQUETTE RIVER BREWING

The Beer Facts: BREWER: Raquette River Brewing, Tupper Lake, NY; STYLE: Red Ale; ABV: 5.8%; IBUs: 23; HOPS: US Golding;

What the Brewer Says: "Very unique, Earthy. Hints of toasted goodness."

Color: Red, auburn

Pour: Decent Head

Aroma: Bready, roasted malt

Body: Medium

Taste: Bready, malty with a bit of nut

Overall Impression: Can't Get Enough!

Comments: "A great Red; Fills the mouth nicely; So much better than expected; Held up even after a Pale, an IPA and a Double; Not big and hoppy, but tasty; Good first-course beer; Nice roasty, rich flavor; I really like that roasted malt taste; It's kind of the taste I always hope for in a Red, but don't always get."

THE BOTTOM LINE

Four out of five ain't bad! Surprisingly we gave Raquette River's Pale Ale, IPA, Double IPA, and Red Ale our top rating. I say "surprisingly" because it is rare that we can grab five beers from any given brewery and give four of them our top score. There were no disagreements on where those four should be placed on our Overall Impression sliding scale. Considering the fact that none of these were in-your-face hop-bombs (which tend to garner the coveted Can't Get Enough rating) and one of them - Red Ale - weighed in at a mere 23 IBUs, this says a lot about the complexity of flavor found in these beers. We were all impressed with the IPA - it really did have a somewhat unique taste for an IPA while maintaining its basic IPA-ness.

Imperial Pumpkin Ale was the only beer on which we had no real consensus. A few of us rated it I Could Drink This while others said Leave It On The Shelf. Pumpkin Ales are always divisive with us. But as this style goes, we felt that Raquette River's take is done the way it should be, keeping the pumpkin spices subtle in support of the beer rather than overpowering it.

Our favorite? Probably a toss-up between IPA  and Double IPA. No surprise, coming from a bunch of hop lovers. 
Wonder If we've reviewed a particular beer? For our in-depth analysis just type the name of the beer into the search window at the top of the page. For a quick look at our Overall Impression go to the link below. Every BOTB tested beer is listed alphabetically by brewery with a four-star rating system.
BOTB Tested Beers

For more beer-related info, opinions, and off-the-wall commentary, check out our link to Gerry's Beer Book. It's an often zany yet always informative look at beer throughout the years. Get it for free now before it hits the New York Times bestseller list and you'd have to pay ten times as much.
Sláinte,
The BOTB Guys


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