Thomas Hooker Brewing Co., Nor'easter


Grade: C
Thomas Hooker Brewing Co.

An accidentally aggressive pour produces an offwhite head that disappears into the beer pretty quickly. Very clear, with a rich mahogany brown/red hue. Lager sulfurs come through clearly in the aroma, followed by some bready notes. Light caramel sweetness is there in the nose, with some crisp toast and grain. As the sample warms notes of cinnamon and nutmeg are noticeable, but not overt at all. Gingerbread comes to mind.

And gingerbread it is. Mouthfeel is fairly heavy bodied, with minimal carbonation. Bread, toast, brown sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg are all immediately identifiable. There is sweetness here that makes me feel like I literally just ate some kind of holiday dessert bread. The finish isn't exactly cloying, but its getting real close. The sweetness reminds me of the frosting on a ginger-spice cupcake. There is something about the flavor combination in the middle palate that confuses me though. I get a kind of artificial sweetener/plastic-like flavor that is hard to nail down. Upon inspection of the bottle, it states that this is a "lager with artificial flavor." Well that explains it.

There are a few beer elements here, some of the bread and biscuit notes from the pilsner malt are present, but the sweet/spice flavors are overwhelming them. The spicing on this beer isn't out of balance, per se. I've had spiced holiday beers that tasted like licking the inside of a Christmas Tree Store. However the sweet, semi-cloying, and overall dessert-like qualities of this beer are too much for me. I am infamous for passing on sweets and desserts, but I don't think I'm alone in saying those kinds of flavors have no place in beer. Interesting, bold, and risky. Not to be misogynistic, but I think this beer will find a home with a lot of female drinkers.