can’t believe Otter Creek has never had a year-round IPA in its
portfolio until now. This is a brewery that has been putting out some
great specialty IPAs in recent years, but now that I think about it, I
haven’t had a standard single IPA from them until “Backseat Berner.”
This beer was included in a New England-style IPA showdown my friends
and I held this summer and it came in last, unfortunately. I thought it
was pretty good drinking it blind at the time and drinking it straight
up now I have the exact same opinion.
I poured a 12oz bottle into a flared snifter. It was bottled on 9/8/15 and cost $2.60 ($0.22 per ounce).
Appearance: Hazy shade of flame orange. Particulates can be seen
floating in suspension as can some carbonation bubbles. Pours to a
fairly large, white, frothy head which laces and retains beautifully.
Smell: A bit of an earthy nose with notes of pine and a bit of spice rack dust. Just a faint hint of citrus.
Taste: I’m not sure if this beer truly qualifies as a New England-style
IPA despite the brewery and its Vermont location. Most beers of the
style tend to have huge tropical fruit aroma and an herbal/spicy/grassy
flavor and bitterness. This is a bit more in the traditional East Coast
style with pine as the main driving note. Immediate resiny flavor as
soon as it hits the tongue, quickly followed by a fairly sharp, bone dry
bitterness. It does have the grassy hop flavor and spicy sensation of
other brews of the general sub-style (no, that’s not an oxymoron), plus
an underlying juicy flavor, but it is more of a background note. Not
much in the way of malt distinctiveness; though there is enough to
provide the palette with a semblance of balance.
Drinkability: At 7% ABV and 68 IBUs, Otter Creek Backseat Berner IPA is
arguably a Double IPA, but they’re marketing it as a single (only beer
nerds like us will care about that anyway). It certainly drinks like a
single as it’s well-carbonated with consistent crispness rather than
anything sticky or syrupy. No alcohol presence whatsoever, though the
hops definitely linger and are quite drying. Definitely a good beer to
stand up to food with a lot of flavor, especially hot wings.