Pete: I got really lucky getting all of these beers. The Savor beer is always hard to get even while attending the event, so being able to get enough to share is always special. Over the years, the beer has been a rollercoaster of odd to boring. One year it was a beer made with rose petals, one year it was an I-95 collaboration on an English Pale ale. I expect brewers to push for something new or over the top with this beer, because that’s what people expect when attending this event. Sparkling Pale ale with Saison yeast definitely is not boring. I also scored some Funky Buddha, which is always a treat. That was one of the first special breweries I got to visit, and it has stuck with me to this day because the beers are that good. This might not be one of their beers that everyone hears about (Maple Bacon Coffee Porter, No Crusts Peanut Butter Jelly Brown Ale), but it’s a solid beer that tastes as advertised. And obviously my bias for Aslin is well documented on this site. And our social media. And anyone else who will listen to me. So I am glad the guys will get a chance to try this stuff. Really excited to gauge the reaction.
York: Pumped to get some Aslin in this batch. Pete has given Aslin his rare full endorsement which has only ever delivered huge wins like Trillium and the Alchemist. He’s also got a knack for getting involved with neat events and cool venues for beer and the inclusion of a few Savor-specific brews in this batch are a lot to look forward too. I’ve become a huge fan of Deschutes and always enjoy a good collaboration story, so that one is particularly interesting to me. The reputation of Funky Buddha precedes itself, and is a brewery I haven’t had the opportunity to try yet. Blood orange always seems to be a fun component that I’ve liked a lot in some Flying Dog and Anderson Valley beers before. Really diverse lineup here, great to hit so many ends of the spectrum!
Shane: Whatever else may be here, this is the Aslin batch. Much as I did with Bissell Brothers and Tree House, Pete has hyped Aslin up to epic proportions. While the mid-Atlantic has a lot of quality beer, there aren’t many breweries that have hit that “must-have” craft brew sweet spot the way breweries in New England and California have. Aslin is clearly making a play to be the DMV equivalent of Russian River or Tree House, and I for one can’t wait to see how they fare. Pete has been singing Aslin’s praises for so long that I feel like I’ve been worked into a jealous frenzy just waiting to get my hands on it. Throw in a couple of Savor beers and this group features some serious quality.
Pete's Thoughts: My first chance to get Aslin to share with the group, and luckily it was one of my favorites. Astro Zombie is just a fruit bomb. Mango, peach, pineapple. Cloudy, delicious, dank juice right in your face. This beer really showcases what these guys can do, because this is just a single IPA and it really does pack so much flavor. The beer is really mouth-coating and keeps you wanting more. There is also some slight dank bitterness at the end to cleanse the palate. I really cannot say enough good stuff about these guys. I keep waiting to hear about expansion plans or contract brewing because you really have to stake out the brewery to get your hands on their beer. I love this stuff, but I am not a huge “lines” guy, so I like to get there in the mid to late afternoon to sit and have a beer. As long as they keep making beer like this, I will be happy.
Shane's Thoughts: As much as I’ve been a hype man for Bissell Brothers and Tree House, that’s how hard Pete has sold us on Aslin. “Finally,” says he, “a brewery in the mid-Atlantic that does New England-style IPAs and does them right!” Well, he’s not wrong. This is a delicious beer, and a hugely worthy introduction to a brewery that has been gaining a ton of steam in the beer community. A very rich, aromatic head that lets you know right away that there’s a huge amount of citrus flavor in here. Mango and pineapple come through very strongly in the beer itself, which makes for a really delicious, almost tropical IPA. It reminds me a little bit of Tree House’s Haze, which is pretty high praise. There’s just enough dankness in this beer for me: it doesn’t overwhelm and it doesn’t linger, but it’s there. I’ll be curious to see York’s reaction, because, unlike him, I really enjoy the sticky finish of these hazy IPAs. This would be really, really delicious as a double.
York's Thoughts: It’s clear that Aslin is Pete’s pride and joy so it’s really great to get a crowler to kick off my experience with them. Astro Zombie really is a great representation of the New England-style IPA, and I actually didn’t get as much of that stickiness as I expected based on how hazy it is. The nose of this brew might be one of the best we’ve ever reviewed, and it drinks very soft with a really juicy taste. I don’t really get the dankness that Shane mentions, which I think really favors this beer--the hops are coming through in those fruit tones and I fear that any more of the piney/resiny side of the spectrum may make this beer drink really clunky. I wrote about this exact issue with the Bright from Tree House where I felt like the sticky, dank finish really interfered with the huge fruit forward body. Really looking forward to tasting more from Aslin based on this one!
Shane: Huge amount of flavor for a single IPA. Looking forward to more Aslin beers. 9/10
York: Excellent. Everything I like about New England IPAs without the dank stickiness I shy away from. 9/10
Pete: Yup, that’s the stuff. A real Juice Bomb as the brewery puts is. 9/10
Note from Funky Buddha: A Moro, by the way, is an American varietal of blood orange that has deep, crimson red flesh and an intense citrus flavor. Expect an overload of ripe, fresh citrus on the nose. The flavor is deeply citrusy and fruity, with notes of pineapple and tangerine. A sticky, caramel-laden malt body compliments the fleshy fruit, followed by a long, grapefruit-inflected hop finish. We suggest you store this bottle cold, and drink it fresh.
Pete's Thoughts: All hail Funky Buddha, the myth, the legend. This brewery has been on my radar for years. I got to visit it once a few years back, but sadly they didn’t have anything other than their regular beers on (which were fantastic). But I wanted the Maple Bacon Coffee Porter, Peanut Butter Jelly, and all those wonderful strange beers I saw with lofty ratings on Untappd. Does it taste like the title? YES. I got to try a bunch of their beers at a keg event in DC and it all tastes wonderful. This beer is blood orange. I have always wondered if I could pick out blood orange v. orange in a beer. Maybe I was just fooling myself, but I could absolutely taste blood orange in this beer. It is more of a fruit ale, but the hops do a good job accenting that orange flavor and overall it is just a pleasure to drink. All fruit and no bitterness. Get your hands on any Funky Buddha beer you can.
Shane's Thoughts: This is the first Funky Buddha beer that I’ve had, and I can’t decide if I’m disappointed that it isn’t one of their more standard offerings (so I can really get a feel for what they’re about) or thrilled that I’m getting to try one of their more interesting beers (so I can really see what they’re capable of). I have a soft spot for blood orange beers. It seems to me that even if you’ve never had a blood orange in your life, somehow you know exactly what a blood orange tastes like. And this beer tastes exactly like a blood orange. Not all the way through, mind you--it has a nice, citrusy roundness to it, then it smacks you in the face with the most orangey blood orange flavor I’ve ever tasted in a beer. It’s really, really good. It’s also a little thicker and richer than I usually expect a heavily flavored beer to be--and this is to its advantage. The last blood orange beer I had was Flying Dog’s Blood Orange IPA, which, while it was good, came up a little light for me. Not Funky Buddha’s. This is a fantastic, full-flavored IPA that delivers on its promises.
York's Thoughts: Easily the best orange juice I’ve ever had. Such a fun beer, especially for the warm weather. As the others said, tons and tons of fresh fruit flavor all throughout. This beer does though skirt that fine line between fruit forward and too sweet. They stopped at the perfect spot and instead of letting it finish sweet, they add back in a bit of bitterness with the grapefruit notes that completely pop out of nowhere after you think it’s blood orange all the way down. This is dangerously close to more of a radler or shandy in my opinion, but is saved a bit by that finish. It’s got a nose like a wheat beer, which makes the HUGE punch of blood orange in the drink even that much more impressive.
Shane: This beer is all blood orange, baby. Delicious. 8/10
York: Excellent summer beer. Definitely craveable. 7/10
Pete: Really tastes like blood orange, worth the hype. 9/10
Note from Allagash and Deschutes: So, who is Pettygrove? In 1843, Francis Pettygrove won a coin toss giving him the right to name a new town in Oregon – and so he named Portland, Oregon after the port city in his home state of Maine. When Deschutes and Allagash came together to collaborate on this beer brewed exclusively for the 2016 Savor, they decided to brew this celebratory and elegant ale – and name it after the person who forever connected their two states.
Pete's Thoughts: I was able to get some extra Savor beers, and this is one of the better ones that I have had. Last year the collaboration beer was just not imaginative (basically an English Pale Ale). This year, a sparkling pale ale fermented with farmhouse yeast definitely pushes the envelope. This beer has a lot going on…it’s got a nice citrus hop bite from a pale ale (you can sense the sparkling aspect as you drink it), and then you get this subtle lemony saison funk at the end. Really fun combination of styles and flavors that I hope they do again.
Shane's Thoughts: This beer fascinates me. It’s not your standard sparkling ale, not by a longshot. It’s not your standard Allagash beer. And while I’m not the most familiar with Deschutes, I’ll wager that it’s not a beer that their regular drinkers will recognize, either. My palate for sparkling beers is a little limited, I’ll admit, but this DEFINITELY has more complexity than most that I’ve had in the past. It has a nice, fizzy component up front to fill your nose with a light, fruity head. Then, on the back end, you get a really nice hit of lemon rind to bring you back down to earth. Unlike a lot of beers advertised as such in the past, this really is a sparkling pale ale. Whether this is a style that ought to exist in the first place is a whole other matter--but Deschutes and Allagash execute it as well as anyone could expect!
York's Thoughts: I’m very conflicted on how to write this beer up. Love the story, really enjoy the uniqueness, but just not sure the beer does it for me. The sparkling component is very very cool and extremely well executed. Easily the best iteration of a sparkling ale I’ve had to date. The wild component dominates the taste and sticks intensely to the palate. I don’t get much of the citrus that Pete mentions, perhaps being lost in the farmhouse notes, but I certainly do get the bitter lemon tones at the end. It’s really complex and shows very clear brewing expertise, it just isn’t something I’d crave again. That said, this beer is designed to be exclusive and made specifically to only have limited access to, so taking that into consideration, the uniqueness factor is more valuable to me than the craveability. Lots of thoughts here
Shane: It’s not a beer I’d reach for often, but it’s executed very well for what it is. 6/10
York: Great experience, and one of the most interesting brews we’ve had in awhile. 7/10
Pete: Really crazy combo beer, but it really works. 8/10
Pete's Thoughts: When I go to visit my wife’s parents, this is my standard old reliable. Neshaminy Creek is right off I-95 when we pull into Bucks County, it’s a perfect little brewery that I plan on profiling later. They just make good, solid beers. This IPA is a perfect example of something that is simple, tasty, and gives you all those flavors you recognize in a good IPA. Grapefruit, pine, citrus peel, earthy spiciness. Just a great drinking well rounded beer that I can always find fresh when I am up there.
York's Thoughts: A beer that tastes like the woods! Really prominent earthy notes with big doses of pine from their hop combo. This reminds me a bit of some of the IPAs that Dogfish Head puts out, with the maltier body and earthier hops. I don’t really get any of the citrusy notes that are described, and I suppose that the bitterness at the end could be described as grapefruit but I don’t really see that. It’s no problem to be lacking the fruit notes in my mind when you’ve got so many things going on on the other side of the spectrum. I’m usually the one of the group that identifies and enjoys dry hopping whenever it’s there, and to be honest I’m not sure I’d have guessed it on this one. The IBUs come in right about where I’d have assumed based on the nose and the finish, but I like this beer quite a bit so the streak of dry hopped IPAs continues for me!
Shane's Thoughts: At first glance, this is your standard IPA. Nice hoppiness to it, a little bit of malt on the back of the tongue. But there’s a lot going on here. The can art depicts pine and fruit raging a battle, and I would say that the taste lives up to that depiction. There is a nice earthy, piney element here, but also a decent amount of grapefruit and other citrus notes on the back. I’m not at all surprised that York loved this beer, as it seems to be right up his alley. It doesn’t fit the flavor profile that I usually look for in an IPA here in New England, but I suspect that’s mainly because I’ve been brainwashed by New England-style IPAs. Regardless, this is a really tasty beer, and while it doesn’t fit my personal palate quite as well as it fits York’s, I’d drink it again in a heartbeat.
York: Lots and lots of pine and resin notes. Wonderfully complex with a great hop combo! 8/10
Shane: Really tasty beer with a lot going on. Nice back-and-forth between pine and fruit elements. 7/10
Pete: This is my PA old reliable, really solid IPA. 7/10
Best of the Bunch
York: Astro Zombie from Aslin is the definite favorite for me. Love to see this type of quality coming out of the region. Somehow even lived up to the hype Pete built up!
Pete: Astro Zombie, as much as I really enjoyed all of these beers, it’s not a contest for me. This wins.
Shane: Yeah, it has to be Astro Zombie. Pete really built up Aslin for us, and it’s nice to see a brewery live up to such high praise.
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