Mayflower Brewing Company’s Spring Hop Ale
By: Benjamin Welton
Beer, as a fortifying agent, works pretty good…for a while. Possibly because the product aboard was so delicious, or possibly because the food was so verminous, William Bradford, an English Separatist leader in both Leiden and Plymouth and a signatory to the Mayflower Compact, once remembered that while first settling in Plymouth: “We could not now take time for further search or consideration, our victuals being much spent, especially our beer.” Bradford’s quote about this dire situation festoons the label to the Spring Hop Ale, a seasonal product manufactured by the Plymouth-based Mayflower Brewing Company.
On their website, the Massachusetts microbrewery describes their Spring Hop Ale as “a hoppy red ale that celebrates the renewal of spring in New England.” They go on to further discuss such things as a “citrusy brew” and “Four varieties of aroma hops.” As marketing pitch, this works fairly well. Few beer enthusiasts could read this somewhat laconic description without foaming up a little bit, and a couple of sips of this brew only doubled the amount of saliva in my mouth. This beer is certainly red (although amber fits it better), and without a doubt it’s delightfully hoppy. But is it a good beer? Read on, please.
First Impression: The first impression I received was what they call “sticker shock.” At my local grocery store, the Spring Hop Ale goes for a small fortune – almost twelve dollars for six 12 fl. oz. bottles. Even in overpriced Vermont this is a wee bit excessive. Secondly, after making amends with my long-suffering wallet, I discerned the fairly boring label, what with its neat quote and simple design. Overall, this isn’t a beer that inspires more than one or two passing glances.
Pour: The Spring Hop Ale pours as an amber ale with a frothy head that leaves behind tendrils of soapy lacing. In terms of smell, this beer has rustic notes, from heavy malts to a type of citrus smell that’s more pinecone than anything fruity. Although it may sound elementary, this beer is best served in a mug or a tulip glass. I tried to experiment with pint glasses, plastic cups, and even straight out of the bottle with a very little in the way of strong smells or even subtle ones.
Taste: With balanced carbonation and a rather chewy top head, this beer is a nice middle ground between the real strong stuff and the slimy yellow water products that most associate with the cheap beer cans of summer. Again, because of the forest-like aroma and bouquet of this brew, drinking this beer is bound to conjure forth images of the first spring thaw or a hiking trip through the Pioneer Valley. Lesser taste buds could easily confuse this beer with an IPA, but the Spring Hop Ale is unmistakably an American amber ale (with hints of Vienna lager buried deep).