Monday, July 13, 2015

Baxter Ceremony

   AROMA 8/10   APPEARANCE 4/5   TASTE 8/10   PALATE 5/5   OVERALL 15/20
Chad9976 (1397) - Albany, New York, USA - JUL 13, 2015
Everybody’s making a session IPA these days, but only a few brewers are brave enough to experiment with the style. I appreciate that Baxter Brewing Company chose an eclectic combination of hops and included green tea in theirs. At only 4.2% ABV, “Ceremony” has a lot going for it. 

I poured a 16oz can into a mug. There was no freshness date and it cost $4.75 ($0.30 per ounce).

Appearance: A very hazy shade of maize/mustard yellow. Pours to a fairly large, white, soapy head which laces and retains pretty well.

Smell: Herbal hops are quite prominent as is green tea. Some pine and earthy notes are present; interesting.

Taste: The indicia on the can describes this having flavor of the West Coast and Far East. While I would agree that the usage of green tea does give it an Asian characteristic, I would disagree that the hops are “West Coast” in nature. Don’t get me wrong, I really enjoy Mosaic, Chinook and Sorachi Ace hops – but they are not citrusy or tropical at all; rather, they are grassy and herbal. There’s a consistent spicy/savory flavor from beginning to end on this palette – something hop heads will enjoy and appreciate. The green tea comes through on the finish to act as a bit of a cleanser and create for a slightly sweet/juicy sensation. There’s a substantial amount of malt base as well to give the beer real body and backbone – this isn’t just hoppy water like some other SIPAs.

Drinkability: Whenever I see a very low ABV on a beer’s label I’m eager to try it since I’m impressed by beers that do more with less and at only 4.2%, Baxter Ceremony does a lot with so relatively little. Of all the session IPAs I’ve had, I don’t recall any having such presence in the mouthfeel; this is medium-bodied with consistent carbonation and crispness. If I were drinking this blind I’d assume it was closer to 5.5-6%. That being said, this is not an especially refreshing brew – not that it necessarily should be. These hops linger longer than most SIPAs and are a bit drying. Still, it’s a versatile brew that’s strong enough to stand up to a meal, but light enough to session. Well done.

Score: 8/10

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