If you’ve been paying attention to the breweries in the Northeastern U.S. lately, you’ve likely noticed the buzz around the likes of Tired Hands, Trillium, Tree House and others when it comes to super fresh and super hoppy IPAs. My introduction to Massachusetts’ Tree House came in a can of the hoppy Red Ale Ma, followed by a pour from a bottle of a Double Shot Coffee Stout variant. Both were stellar, so my expectations were high when I set out to review one of the brewery’s IPAs.
Tree House is perhaps most known for a group of four IPAs: Julius, Green, Haze and Alter Ego. The first in that group, Julius, is a citrus-packed beer that has so much juicy hop flavor that it has a murky appearance to match. For the brewery’s anniversary, they decided to make an extra hopped version of the beer, and just a few weeks ago, it went into cans for the first time. In fact, Tree House says it may be “the most juicy and delectable creation” it has made to date.
JJJULIUSSS (nope, not a typo) pours a cloudy darker orange, something more akin to a glass of fruit juice than a pint of IPA. I don’t mind the murky appearance in hoppy styles, a characteristic that some of the craft faithful have been critical of as the so-called New England-style IPAs continue to gain popularity. For me, if brewers have found another way to impart as much hop flavor as they can into a beer, I’m all for it. And that’s certainly what Tree House has done here as well as in a number of their other brews.
The nose is packed with citrus fruit and the earthiness that a heavy dose of hops can impart. It’s not unlike sticking your nose in a handful of the hops themselves. JJJULIUSSS has an aroma that reminds me of other citrus-forward IPAs like Pipeworks’ Ninja Vs. Unicorn, among many others. Regular Julius carries notes of passionfruit, mango and citrus and this extra hopped version is more of the same and then some. The fruitiness is carried over into the taste, with funky mango flavors, orange and a touch of grapefruit there as well. This beer is super smooth, offering just the slightest bitterness from all of those hops. Bitterness, earthy character and the fruity flavors of the hops added both in the kettle and through dry hopping are surprisingly balanced, making JJJULIUSSS a super drinkable beer that doesn’t wear out your palate.
If you’ve yet to try one of the cloudy New England-style IPAs, I challenge you to seek one out. Tree House has can releases on a weekly basis, sometimes multiple releases in a seven-day period. Their beers are so popular you have to visit the brewery to pick up those highly sought-after cans or growlers, as the company doesn’t yet distribute the tall boys to other parts of Massachusetts. If you want my advice, I’d find a fellow beer lover that lives close enough to pick some up or route your vacation nearby Monson so you can justify a pit stop. These citrus-heavy IPAs are a perfect hoppier, higher ABV choice for the summer months when you need something refreshing to help beat the heat.
Brewery: Tree House Brewing Company
City: Monson, Massachusetts
Style: American IPA
Availability: 16 oz. cans, brewery only