Monday, January 09, 2012

Boatswain Pulls into Port

A new Trader joe's beer brand called Boatswain (pronounced Bo-sun) has pulled into port. It's brewed by Rhinelander Brewing Co. of Monroe, Wisconsin, which really is Minhas Brewing, which brews a lot of cheap beer for Trader Joe's. The two beers are both described as IPAs. One is simply called Boatswain IPA and the other is called H.L.V. -- or Heavy Lift Vessel. Both are also described as brown on color, but really only H.L.V. is really brown. The beer snob in me also knows that IPAs really shouldn't be brown, but this is cheap beer, so who cares?

I bought both these beers for $1.99 each. I tried the IPA first. It poured crystal clear amber with plenty of carbonation and big fluffy white head. This beer certainly looked tasty enough. It smmelled of sweet cereal grains with only a faint floral hop nose. I suppose I really shouldn't have expected much more than that. Then there was the strange metallic bitterness that cthankfully comes and goes quickly. I'm calling this mallt liquor for people who like hops, but there's also no way this is 79 IBUs as indicated on the label. (An IBU is a measurement of bitterness in beer. Budweiser has about 10 IBUs.)

I have to say I "drain-poured" the bulk of the IPA, but quite possibly because I'd been drinking Three Floyds (expensive craft beer) earlier in the evening. I still moved on to the H.L.V., the darker brother of the IPA. I felt like this beer was a little better as the dark malts obscured the likely use of adjuncts. The label says dark brown and this time it is to believed. A slightly more pleasant aroma with this one, that fades quickly. The hop bitterness seems a little more for real this time, but I'm still not impressed, even for two-dollar price point. Tastes like a hoppy version of on of my all time favorite Huber Bock (another Minhas brew, but not sold at Trader Joe's.) That said, I think I'd rather pass these beers up and spend an extra buck on a bottle of Charles Shaw.