Saturday, March 27, 2010

Butternuts Snapperhead IPA

   AROMA 7/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 6/10   PALATE 3/5   OVERALL 14/20
Chad9976 (599) - Albany, USA - MAY 5, 2010
Craft breweries and microbrews are popping up all over the country - some in places you’d never expect like a converted dairy farm. That’s the story behind Butternuts Beer & Ale out of Garrattsville, New York. This quirky little brewery puts out a small selection of staple beer styles that geeks like me vie for. My introduction to the brewery was their Snapperhead IPA - a very drinkable India pale ale even if the flavor is a tad lacking.


I poured a 12oz aluminum can into a pint glass. I was surprised to see this beer had such a dark and hazy appearance - as if it’s unfiltered. It forms a decent layer of off-white frothy head which dissipates fairly quickly, although it leaves generous lacing on the glass the entire way down.

The aroma is a little different than you expect from an American IPA, with a light citrus and candy-like sweetness in the nose. My friend Henry described it as akin to orange sherbet, to which I’d add a noticeable bitterness (almost saltiness).


I love it when a beer tastes almost exactly as it smells - there are no surprises that way. Snapperhead IPA initially has a very bitter taste with a light tangerine or orange sherbet flavor and follows with an extremely dry backend. While soft and light in the mouth, it’s actually amazing how intense the dry bitterness is to this beer, as well as how long the hops linger on the tongue.

While certainly tasty at the beginning and middle, this beer’s back end is a bit too bitter for its own good. Much like the aroma it has an almost salty quality which wouldn’t be a detriment had the overall palate been a bit more rich. Many IPAs tend to taste like pure tropical fruit juice or sap from a pine tree, but Snapperhead is much more mild. It’s an original flavor I’m not used to tasting in an IPA and I did enjoy it, but by the end of the glass I wasn’t exactly craving another.


There’s really two different ways to approach drinkability - literally and in a more existential way. Literally speaking, Snapperhead is highly drinkable as it’s soft, light and borderline watery in the mouth. For such a bitter beer it does not wreck havoc on the tongue. But at the same time its extremely dry backend and salty aftertaste does make it a bit of a challenge - especially to drinkers who are not fans of the IPA style.

At 6.8% ABV this beer does not seem to have nearly potency or density as you might expect. Can beers lend themselves to sessioning if nothing more than simple portability and I think the average drinker would be able to drink several cans without feeling overwhelmed (although getting past the dry, bitter aftertaste might be tough).


While not the best India Pale Ale on the craft beer market, Snapperhead IPA is certainly one of the most unique. I think it would work well as an introductory IPA and would taste and literally drink better with snacks or a meal than on its own. At $8 a six-pack it’s not a gamble, so try it if you want a totally different IPA.

Grade: 6/10

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