During our recent trip to Vermont, Future-Wife and I stayed at the lovely Kedron Valley Inn — a nice bed & breakfast in the quaint town of Woodstock. It was a really cool place full of old charm, and surprisingly really great beer on draft!
The general manager there, Luke, is a self proclaimed beer aficionado; when he isn’t managing the B&B he is out scouting for new beers to bring back and put on tap for his guests. One of those beers available during our stay was Tribute, a Double IPA by 14th Star brewing company way up in St. Albans, VT.
Tribute left such an impression on us that we snagged up a sampling of three different beers from 14th Star to take home and review. Below are my micro-reviews of all of them.
Valor Ale – Hoppy Amber Ale 5.4% ABV
This beer pours a nice light amber / copper color with a decent two finger head of foam in the glass, which sticks around for a bit. The head is very creamy, small bubbles keeping it afloat and providing a very inviting texture.
I had to do a double take when I first smelled this beer — it smelled straight up like Fruity Pebbles, and I LOVE Fruity Pebbles. Second smell gave me some nice young citrus coupled with pineapple and a bit of just-passed-ripe melon. Yum!
First taste was interesting, but not what I expected. There was a very subdued melon taste going on, as well as a bit of lemongrass type of sweetness here..but that is about it. I found myself searching for the flavors I had smelled with each sip. The malt wasn’t really noticeable, leaving an almost watered down feeling to the beer.
This is a good beer, but not remarkable to me. I was left wanting more malt, more hops and just about more of everything.
Maple Breakfast Stout – Breakfast Stout 5.5% ABV
This one poured the classic dark brown and copper hues of a stout and produced the same style head as Valor did, so they’re clearly on to something there.
I picked up on notes of caramel and toffee with the first smell, a slight bit of coffee at the tail end of the second. There is a slight amount of toasted malt smell coming through, but not too much. This was missing any kind of maple smell though, which was very puzzling.
First taste was classic breakfast stout: roasted oats, strong black coffee, a sweetness that tasted a tiny bit like the sugar content of pure maple syrup. There was a light alcohol taste that cleaned everything up at the end.
Not a big flavor here, and certainly not nearly enough maple for a beer calling itself Maple, but this is a tasty and light breakfast stout with some character. I would love to pair this up against Founders Breakfast Stout and see how the two stand together.
Tribute – American Double IPA 8.9% ABV
Tribute is every bit as good out of the can as it was on tap. Huge fruity DIPA smell here. Classic bits of peach, citrus and cantaloupe present in the aroma.
The taste is just wonderful — there was a lot of honeydew melon and cantaloupe flavor in this beer, with peach and citrus as the finish. The malt is very crackery and biscuity, it really sets the stage for the hops in this beer and provides an exceptional balance.
I’m very impressed by how creamy this is, the bubbles are really small and it makes for a nice zippy taste delivery. I can’t say enough how melony this DIPA is — cantaloupe and honeydew all over the place. Would have loved more of that peach flavor, but I seriously have no complaints about this one.