Fiddlehead Brewing Company Mastermind

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People say the Vermont beer scene is one of the best in the country.  Craft beer meccas like Hill Farmstead, The Alchemist, and Lawson’s are inhabit the green mountain state, in addition to nationally distributed breweries like Otter Creek, Long Trail, Harpoon, Magic Hat, etc…  Often forgotten about, Fiddlehead Brewing Company out of Shelburne, VT, is making waves in the craft beer realm by producing some incredible IPAs comparable to the ones being concocted by the meccas mentioned earlier.  Mastermind is a double IPA that’s a brewery only release and usually goes quick.  On a recent trip up to the “why does everything smell like cow manure” state, I was able to nab a four-pack and enjoy the contents from within.  Let’s run them numbers.

IMG_3573Appearance:  Murky golden brown with a white head that laced nice in the glass.  You can tell the yeast is alive on the pour alone and it looks like an inviting DIPA.

Smell:  Juicy hops, passion fruit, grapefruit, orange, and lime.  This smells like Omnipollo 42 tastes – there are so many similarities.  Very fruit forward with piney and resinous hops taking a backseat in the beer.

Taste:  Taste veers a little from what I got on the aroma; the main flavor I’m getting from this brew is faint anise.  I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, this is a signature taste I get out of almost every Trillium IPA I’ve had and is also quite similar to Bissel Brother IPAs.  It’s spicy and almost has a charred rye taste to it.  I can’t really get past that one taste and the beer doesn’t quite open up to anything else.  It’s not too bitter, there aren’t a ton of tropical flavors, and maybe there’s a touch bit of pine at the finish; the main thing I’m hung up on is the anise.  This is actually the third time I’m having this beer – I had it a few days ago at the brewery and once about 6 months ago – both times I didn’t recognize this much anise and remember it being very tropical and balanced, so maybe with time this will round out?  I might have to follow up on this in a week or two.

IMG_3574As far as mouthfeel and carbonation go, both are fine.  Mouthfeel is thinish and the carbonation is more normal than the name Bill.  The ABV in Mastermind is at 8.1%, which frankly is much more than I would have guessed.  This goes down very easy and there is no hint of the ABV at all in the brew, so kudos for Fiddlehead on that.

Overall:  I like this beer and enjoy it, but I think I could find something on my shelf at home that I’d prefer more.  Given the rarity of this beer (AKA lack of accessibility) I have to give it a B.  However, when I had this a half a year ago, I gave it a 5 on Untappd, which I rarely do; this beer can definitely change with a little time (for the better of course).  The can date on the one I’m reviewing is 5 days ago, so it still may need some “aging”.  A good Vermont beer, but out of reach of Heady and Focal Banger.

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