Connecticut Valley Brewing Company is quickly becoming one of my favorite breweries in the state. Every beer I’ve tried from this South Windsor-based brewery has been fantastic and Trailblazer is no exception. This New England IPA* shows off the quintessential elements of the style: tropical hop flavor, an unfiltered, hazy appearance and a juicy mouthfeel. For this review, Trailblazer was poured from a 16 oz. can into a snifter glass. Markings on the bottom of the can indicate it was packaged Feb. 2, 2018.
Trailblazer pours a deep, hazy orange with a pale thin head forming on the top of the glass. Small bits of sediment cloud the brew, making it extremely opaque. I’ve never encountered a beer with quite this intense of a color, but this hazy look is a key component found in just about any beer that claims to be a New England IPA.
The aroma is enticing. Mango, papaya and red grapefruit make up most of the nose, with a hint of grapefruit rind coming in at the end. These tropical fruits are balanced quite well in the aroma. None of the components are overpowering and the fruity scent isn’t overwhelming sweet.
The taste lives up to the aroma. Tropical fruits dominate the flavor, with mandarin oranges, mango and grapefruit making up the front end. A light dose of hop bitterness follows the tropical start, balancing out the slight sweetness from the fruit, before finishing with a quick punch of grapefruit rind. I love this transition from gentle sweetness to moderate bitterness.
The mouthfeel and carbonation are medium-light with a bit of the silky, soft, juice-like quality that the best New England IPAs all exhibit. My one complaint, and it can barely be called a complaint, is that the mouthfeel was slightly too heavy for my tastes. Don’t get me wrong, it’s nearly perfect, but I would prefer a bit softer of a feel to showcase the tropical flavors and lead into the bitter finish. Slightly less carbonation could lighten the mouthfeel to the perfect level.
Trailblazer is a great beer that showcases the best parts of the New England IPA style. The only issue I found with it was quite minor, and it’s more of a nitpick than an actual problem with this brew. I highly recommend this beer; it’s among the best Connecticut brews I’ve had so far this year
*It is worth noting that New England IPA is not an official beer style designated by the Brewers Association, an organization of craft brewers that is generally considered to be the top authority on beer styles. New England IPA is an unofficial subclass of the official American-Style IPA.
Will Harris is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.