When to open @TreeHouseBrewCo cans

I’m pretty sure by now you’ve all heard of Tree House Brewing and that most of you have even tried their beers in both growlers and cans. This is a very good thing. In the world of craft beer, it’s hard to top their amazing recipes and in-house same day sales. This level of freshness is ideal and can make for the ultimate tasting experience. The question for this piece is therefore a touch counter-intuitive… Is there any reason to intentionally age Tree House cans beyond the day of their release? Before your knee jerk reaction of a vehement, “No way!’ forces you to X out of this page, let me be more specific about what I mean. Does the flavor and drinkability of these beers peak the day of release, or very shortly there after? By shortly there after, I mean a couple of days, a week, maybe even a month. Never age more than a month, unless it’s to prove to yourself that you should never do it again. To this end, I undertook a several year-long personal taste experiment with as many of their canned releases as possible. The results, are a bit surprising and vary radically by the beer in question.

Before I go into detail on specific beers, let’s cover a few basics. First, there’s canning shock. The process of putting beer into cans disturbs it and requires a bit of settling time (ideally). However, the amount of time is hotly debated. I find 4-6 hours of fridge time to be more than sufficient. In a pinch, a couple of hours in a cooler would do as well. I’ve heard others argue to wait as long as a week! Don’t wait a week (except for Green! but we’ll get to that later…). Remember, if the beer was canned the day before or earlier in the week, this becomes a non-issue in almost every case. I must personally admit that I open at least one can as soon as I’m legally allowed to. It takes me less than 30 mins to get home from the brewery in Monson. Don’t over think this one. Canning shock is real, but will your beer taste terrible if you don’t wait? Absolutely not. As is true for most of these truly higher order metrics, we’re talking about a mathematical limit you can’t reach… perfection and this only really can take a point or two at most away from the taste. Furthermore, I assume you have a general understanding of how to care for beer and what I mean by aging (letting them sit in your beer fridge). Always have a cooler in your car, avoid putting the beer through heat cycles, store the beer in a fridge, never expose it to direct sunlight or prolonged heat. After 3 weeks in the fridge it should become a priority to drink or share any remaining cans.

Now for some specifics. In every case we are assuming the beers have been transported, stored, etc in a like manner so the only real difference is the amount of time in the fridge and it’s effect on flavor, aroma, hoppiness etc.

Julius – The Dr is in and he’s delicious. Their flagship beer is to me the one with the shortest ideal fridge life. Canning shock aside, drink this as soon as possible. The thick rich and juicy fresh-cut mango aroma and flavors peak around day 2 and start to fall off by day 5. Past day 7 the beer is still phenomenal, but will not reveal such a robust juiciness. Although I’ve done far less testing on King Julius, so far I’ve found the same applies.

Green – Oddly enough, the Queen to King Julius is the beer I recommend storing the longest aside from Ma and Bear. This is consistently my favorite regular Tree House release. I can say with some confidence that at this point I’ve had more Green, in either cans or growlers, than any other beer I’ve drank… ever. It’s a test of patience and will, opening the fridge on day 3 or 4 and seeing the untouched cans. They seem to speak, softly ‘drink me’ lol. Ok, not really but you get it. Who goes and buys their favorite beer and then doesn’t drink it? This guy. Why? Because from day 5ish to day 12 Green goes through the most delectable flavor evolution of any canned beer I’ve ever tried. Passion fruit, peach, apricot and guava lead to larger notes of orange sorbet, pineapple and grapefruit. The flavor is AMAZING! but takes a few days to gel up and evolves constantly.

Sap – Pineapple! It’s weird for me to drink the new Sap. It’s nothing like the original in flavor and worthy of its own name. Days 1-3 the aroma and flavor is loaded with more pineapple than Ballast Point’s Pineapple Sculpin (true story). After that the fruitiness starts to subside and the danker more piney/resiny character of the Chinook hops starts to come through. Two very different beers, the most dichotomous of their releases, so know what you like and drink accordingly.

Alter Ego – This falls somewhere between Julius and Green with a strong tendency to evolve and change while remaining delectable. Days 2-5 there’s a pronounced hint of grape juice and herbal dankness that I’m very fond of. Beyond that, the beer takes on a very nice floral and tropical fruitiness that remains very juicy into week 3.

Eureka – This one is simple. These are the most immediately present and consistently flavored beers over time. Drink them fresh, ship them to friends, have a bunch around.

Haze – Drink this fresh. I know, you’ve been saying to yourself all along, “fool, I have to. It even says so on the can!” Haze fades and falls off more dramatically than any other Tree House beer I’ve tried. 3 or more weeks out, I’m apt to pass it by, my heart filled with regret I waited to drink it.

Ma/Bear – Very different beers, very similar aging profile. Both can do with a solid week to 10 days of mellowing to peak. Both remain solid deep into the second month, continuously mellowing with subtle changes to the flavor. Far and away the most durable of the canned releases.

Sometimes I find I write these pieces to help clarify ideas in my own head. Other times, it’s because it keeps coming up with friends and acquaintances alike. In this case, it’s both. Knowing what the beer is will determine when you want to drink it. Using the basic guide above, you will find a more consistent level of quality from the beer in cans and in my opinion get the most out of each release. Enjoy!







My top 3 favorite new beers of #2014 @baxterbrewing @TreeHouseBrewCo @TroegsBeer

beer_301141lil After an extraordinarily long hiatus from blogging and brewing I’ve decided a short piece on my top 3 new beers that I tried in 2014 was a perfect way to get back into the swing of things. I rated 122 new brews this year, not an outrageous or exhaustive effort by any stretch but I’m picky! Plus I’ve found too many that I love and can get locally and super fresh to always be trying something new, lol. I’m sure there are many that I missed, I mean honestly with the sheer volume of quality craft around it’s hard not to. Please feel free to share your take on my favorites and share any information and links you have related to your own.

#3 Tröegs Hop Knife (4.5/5) – I’ve decided fresh hop ales deserve a category slightly separate from traditional IPAs, in much the same way DIPAs and DIPLs are beyond the current BJCP style guidelines… The aroma is pungent, earthy, herbal with some citrus. The flavor follows, is somewhat mild, but solid. Finishes clean and bitter with a bit of a softer mouthfeel. If this beer lacks anything it’s a touch of crispness and maybe a bit more carbonation. http://www.ratebeer.com/beer/beername/274497/

#2 Tree House Double Shot (4.8/5) – Absolutely delectable aroma and flavor. Lots of coffee and chocolate notes. Bitterness is tempered and balances nicely. My only complaint? Reminds me of Wormtown’s Norm, though slightly less decadent… but still left me wanting coconut! http://www.ratebeer.com/beer/go/256686/286115/

#1 Baxter Bootleg Fireworks (4.8/5) – I really enjoyed this beer! It may very well be the best new beer I’ve tasted in a couple of years. The aroma is pungent and packed to the gills with southern hemisphere kiwi hops mixed maybe with a little El Dorado?. The flavor is again dominated by Galaxy and it’s cousins but there’s also solid grapefruit and citrus with a bit of earthy spice from something like Columbus added to Styrian Savinjski. I think they say there are 8 or more types of hops used. They blend well and don’t muddy each other! The malts only exist for ABV and color… say amen. Beats the hell out of Enjoy By… http://www.ratebeer.com/beer/go/301141/286115/

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