I’m gonna come right out and be honest on this one, I picked this up from Breski’s Beverage solely for the blog, and knowing that today would have the blizzard, I got it for the aesthetics and the blog. While running my errands and doing some Christmas shopping yesterday, I stopped at Breski’s for myself, as well as getting a gift card for a friend, and I picked this up primarily for the blog. Knowing it would look good for a beer review photo op in today’s Snowmaggeddon. Call me a hack, a fraud, or whatever you like, I purposefully picked this thinking about the background of snow and making foot prints in said snow for the sake of the photo to go with the beer….. and…. well… here it is:
I will be forthright here now too…. I’m not the hugest fan of New Trail. Don’t get me wrong – they make wonderful beers. Actually, their IPAs are typically top notch IPAs…. but… here’s where my problem with them kind of lies; every New England IPA (which is practically every IPA they make) is pretty much indistinguishable from the last one. IF they set a sampler flight in front of you of ten different taster glasses of ten different New England IPAs from New Trail Brewing, and then told you, and then asked you to spot differences between them…. you’d be real hard pressed to do so. And then, swerve, they tell you that three of the ten were the exact same beers, and you need to pick which ones out of 1-10 were the same beers, and which seven were unique beers…. again, I think you’d be hard pressed to do so. And thats going off visual and aroma and taste.
This isn’t really a knock on them. They make great beers, and they are good beers. I’ve only had a few times where I’ve been ‘meh’ to them, and then thats usually the rarity. But when it is a ‘meh’ its usually a ‘meh’ out of…. wasn’t that the same as X beer they made? Not because its ‘meh’ bad, or ‘meh’ boring, its more out of the idea of ‘meh’ the same. Like Hallmark movies….
This. This above pretty much sums up New Trail IPAs to me. Could I tell you the difference between Goggles, Hammock, Broken Heels, and Neither Here Nor There, Double Broken Heels, Rocksylvania, or any of the other dozens of NE-IPAs they’ve done? Nope, probably not. Shrug. Maybe this is because its now 5:12PM, and I’ve shoveled, walked the dog, and worked through a few ‘Snowmaggeddon beers’ (a few of which were 10%+ stouts, like the Lickinghole Cookies and Cream); maybe its also me being grumpy old man shaking his fist at the clouds, but I dunno, they all seem so much the same, so much repetitive, but still very good.
According to Untappd, New Trail Brewing Co, has 190 unique beers. Of those 190 unique beers – 50 are New England IPAs, 30 are Double New England IPAs, and 5 are Triple New England IPAs. Of the remaining 105 beers, 11 are Milkshake IPAs, 15 are American IPAs, 2 are Double American IPAs, 2 are Triple American IPAs, and 1 is a White IPA. So thats 190 unique beers and a total of 116 are IPA variants. Leaving a remainder of 74 non-IPA variations in beer. Thats not the worst thing ever, and if you know your strengths, play to them. I agree with that. But, I want to be a fair reviewer, and I’m working my way through a good Snowstorm buzz, and drinking now my second Snow Tracks, so I am trying to be fair and impartial. I have enjoyed all of the IPAs and NE-IPAs I’ve had from New Trail, but, at some point, originality has to factor into the beer review, and I feel like after so many iterations of “Same Beer but with X hop changed” you have to ding them for it. Maybe I’m crazy, I dunno. Online, in Facebook groups, such as Breweries in PA, and others, they are constantly touted as being great. Their beer names lend to some great photo ops (see myself for being a hack, doing just that), with hiking photos, hammock photos, twilight sunset photos, and snow related photos, etc.
So, last night at Breski’s I picked up the 4 pack of Snow Tracks, as well as two mix a six packs, I had also stopped at 2nd and Charles for books (both for Christmas and for myself), and stopped at Rubber Soul for food for the night. Everything I got from Breski’s is pictured above, as well as some others, both from the cellar and the fridge. Working my way through these as I shovel, do indoor stuff, like reading, watching JoJo Rabbit, writing, and just working myself a good buzz. Isn’t it funny though, how much easier it is to drink when with company? When hanging out with my friends, I can kill a four pack in no time, but by myself at home, its a little bit slower. Am I alone on this?
Anyway, enough blabbering, lets get to the review, because I need to walk across town to my parents to shovel their driveway and sidewalk…. because god knows their not going anywhere for the next three days, but it needs done tonight while its still snowing an inch to two inches every hour……… onward review:
Beer: Snow Tracks
Brewery: New Trail Brewing Co.
Style: IPA – New England
Untappd Description: Snow Tracks is a Hazy IPA, brewed with light wheats and honey malt. Impressionally hopped with Ekuanot, Mosaic, & Sabro. Expect big citrus and fruity notes complemented with light tropicals and dankness. Follow your path, or don’t and go make your own.
Ok, lets start off with the obvious – it looks like a New England IPA. And this isn’t another ding on New Trail here. This is what its supposed to look like. Look at all of the New England style IPAs we’ve reviewed here on the blog, both my reviews, as well as Josh’s, as well as reviews on Beer Advocate, or just people’s pics on Untappd. This. Looks. Like. A. New. England. IPA. And. Thats. A. Good. Thing. Don’t know why I typed it like that, but I did, so enjoy. This is orange, its bright, its cloudy, its hazy, it looks dank, its opaque, it has a small minimal head, but its carbonated. So far, it looks like a New England IPA.
And it smells like a New England IPA. It smells hoppy. It smells piney, earthy, citrus, it smells honey, it smells wheat, it smells pretty tasty. So far, its looking like pretty good odds this is a duck – errr – a New England IPA — it smells and looks like a New England IPA; but does it taste like one?
Oh ho! It does! It does taste like a New England IPA. Huzzah! We got ourselves a duck everyone! A New England IPA Duck! It looks, smells, and tastes just like a New England IPA! Now. Let me be outright clear here – there is nothing, NOTHING, (shouts it for the people in the back of the room who have their hearing aids turned off) N-O-T-H-I-N-G W-R-O-N-G with that. ….Nothing wrong with that. Capiche? Ok? Ok. BUT…. now, lets be forthright and honest again…. there’s nothing AMAZING about that either. Especially if you’ve had a varied amount from New Trail. Maybe I’m just not enough of a New Trail fanboy? Maybe I’m not constantly singing their praises on Breweries in PA’s Facebook group, or the various other PA style Facebook groups, or even Beer Facebook groups en large, but, this tastes good, but it gets a ‘meh’ from me for originality. Is it a good beer? Yes – check. Is it a well made beer? Yes – check. Is it a good New England IPA? Yes – check. Is it pretty much the same as the last four New England IPAs I’ve had from New Trail? Yes – check. Now, your mileage may vary on this. Is that a bad thing? Is it a good thing? Is it a horrible thing? Is it worth writing a blog post or a beer review about? Eh. I dunno, debatable I suppose. Do I like this beer? Yes. Do I ding them for the lack of originality? Yes. Should I do that? Maybe, maybe not. This is where I probably come off as a pretentious hypocritical DBag. (Can you tell I watched a Bill Burr Netflix special this morning?) Do I rag on other breweries for lack of originality? No, and I haven’t yet, but if I get ten beers from Boneshire that are the same style and they taste the same, I should, and hopefully, I do so in the future. Same with Tattered Flag. Or Rubber Soul. Or Troegs. I want to try and stay impartial. But, this is my twenty fifth beer from New Trail (out of their 190 beers), and I feel like most are the same. But, I digress, and will move on. Lets actually discuss the beer itself.
This is a piney, with some citrus, flavored New England IPA. Its smooth, with no hop bitterness or hop bite. This is rich and creamy, and its relatively low ABV too (6.7%), and no booze or heaviness in that way. The pine makes this a nice ‘winter IPA’. Its tasty, its a nice juicy hop bomb with lots of flavor of the pine and citrus and a really well done New England IPA. Juicy. Piney yet fruity / citrusy. Nice flavor. Nice mouthfeel. Nice aroma. Nice texture. Nice appearance. Its a well crafted New England IPA, that I may or may not have had thirty times over by now, who knows. Shrug. I hate to make this beer review sound like a hate fest, but the originality does bug me, and I know some of ‘into craft beer but not fully into craft beer’ friends get a bit annoyed by it too. “So whats the difference between THIS New England IPA and THAT New England IPA? Whys the one 6.7% and the other 6.8%, they both look the same and pretty much taste the same….” etc. But, in all honesty, this is a GOOD, New England IPA, just a bit boring in the sense that its been done to death. Maybe I’m just over the fad of New England IPAs in general? Or maybe I just don’t buy into the New Trail New England IPA hype train? I dunno. Shrug. I’ve enjoyed all of their New England IPAs, just not been ‘wow’d’ or blown away or mesmerized by them, and they all taste so similar as to tell much apart from each other. Shrug. I do hope you at least try it, I do recommend it so far as that goes, if you like New England IPAs, you will like this. Hopefully your mileage will vary better than mine did on this. Again – double shrug.
My Untappd Rating: ***.75
Global Untappd Rating: 3.97 (as of 12.16.20) (6:00PM)
Well, the snow is coming down a lot heavier now, and I’m bundling up as I write this, to prepare myself and Leela (my 11 year old boarder collie) for the trek across town just to shovel my parent’s sidewalk and driveway, knowing I will have to do the same thing in the morning again. Luckily, my hoodie from Boneshire has a bit in middle pocket to hold a can or bottle beer. Which I will need for this walk.
Cheers all! Stay safe in the snow and the pandemic!