Sometime’s we think we’re kinda clever with our cute little themes and naming conventions.
Most of the time though, we just confuse people. Yea, we’re good at that. So I thought it might be a good idea to call out in plain english why we chose the names we do for our beers. Before I begin, I’d like to make a self deprecating observation that we’re about 2.5 years into this whole Backlash thing, and I am only now explaining our beer names. Oops – I guess this is a smidge overdue. Off we go.
We try to carry the attitude of the craft beer revolution in most of the things we do. When we first launched, we thought it would be cool to infuse the names of our beers with that same spirit. Our three year round beers are named after the chronology of a revolution. Observe:
- Groundswell – sort of an underground movement gaining momentum
- Convergence – people begin to come together, unified by a cause
- Declaration – finally someone stands up and makes a statement
So that covers our main stuff. But we’ve also done all these theme/series beers. Here’s the deal with that.
Back when the world was supposed to end in accordance with the Mayan calendar (lol, how’d that work out? dummies), we thought it would be cool to launch a beer every month leading up to the end of man kind (Sept/Oct/Nov/Dec). We took inspiration from each of the 4 horseman of the Apocalypse when designing our beers, naming each beer after its respective horseman. We also partnered with Sophy Tuttle, a local artist who did a killer job on the labels. Props also go out to Zach for helping conceive the entire series and writing all the copy on the labels. Here are the names of those, and why we picked the styles.
- Conquest – White IPA – Conquest rode a white horse, which biblically is supposed to be a bit confusing. White is a color often associated with good, and these horseman were here to signify the end of the world. One school of thought is that Satan had a hand in disguising the horseman as white. Conquest signifies the beginning of the end: Man’s desire to conquer his fellow man.
- War - Rye Farmhouse Ale, fermented with 3 yeast strains and dry hopped with hibiscus leaves. War rode a red horse, and he came to fuck shit up. War is the mechanism by which man conquers man. We infused the beer with an element of conflict by letting 3 yeast strains go at it during fermentation and also made it sort of red with the hibiscus. A bit of a stretch, but whatever, stop judging.
- Famine - Single Hop, Single Malt Belgian Style Tripel(ish). So if you’re following along, we’ve got man’s desire to rule his fellow man put into execution via cutting off heads and shit. Also burning stuff, people loved to burn shit during times of war back in bible times. Kind of a dick move if you ask me, but what do I know? Famine, therefore, is the result of war. That’s what happens when you go burning everything. You should have thought of that ahead of time – now how are we going to make beer? With the bare essentials I guess, which is why we chose to make this beer with as few ingredients as possible.
- Death - Russian Imperial Stout. Death is the fourth horseman of the Apocalypse, the Omega, if you will. You done killed and burned everything, and now you’re dead. The original intent was to brew a high ABV, black as night beer infused with chipotle peppers that we could all toast together on our way off the planet. However, I suck and fucked the beer up when we first brewed it in 2012, so it never made it to market. Womp. Death died. Oh the irony. So it took us a full year before we re-released the beer, without the pepper this time, but it’s awesome now so we think it was worth the wait.
And thus, the Apocalypse Series concluded.
- Redux – Fun fact: The first time we brewed Groundswell, we used a completely different recipe. The result was really good, and a lot of people liked it – but it wasn’t quite what I had in mind when I set out to make the beer. So, I totally scrapped the recipe and made the beer the Groundswell we know and love today. For our second anniversary we re-brewed the original recipe once as our birthday beer and called it Redux, which means to “bring back” or “revive”.
What about all them Double IPAs?
Salute – This beer was brewed with Citra and Simcoe hops that we got from Sam Adams’ hop sharing program. When we originally launched in 2011, we had every intention of brewing some badass west-coast style IPAs. This was before I fully understood the fuckery that is the hop market. All those awesome recipes I had worked on were basically useless because I couldn’t get my hands on any of the hop varieties they required. That all changed when we got a bunch of hops from Sam Adams, and we were finally able to flex the ol’ IPA muscle a little. We named the beer Salute as a tribute to Sam Adams and their generosity.
The Uprising! Series:
Double IPAs each using the same exact grains, all featuring an individual hop variety.
Over the course of the past few years, our brand has taken on somewhat of a militaristic feel. Joining the “backlash” has become akin to enlisting in a war – and we’re cool with that. The Uprising! Series sort of played off that with the beer names and label art, which was designed to have a war propaganda poster feel to it. Props once again go out to Zach for all the work he did on these – I think they’re some of our best labels yet. Onto the names – which, like our core beers, also follow the general chronology of a war:
- Catalyst – The Catalyst is the spark – where it all begins. In this beer we featured Amarillo hops to the Nth degree. Crazy grapefruit bomb. The label featured our goddamn precious bulldog, Stout. What, you ask, does a bulldog have to do with war propaganda? Well the English Bulldog is a symbol of hard-nosed resolution. These dogs literally were bred to take down bulls 10x their size. That’s badass. Also, we really wanted to put him on a label. HE’S PAINFULLY CUTE OK??
- Outbreak – An Outbreak is a sort of mass violent start of something badass, so it makes sense that it would follow Catalyst. This beer featured Mosaic hops, which are relatively new to the hop market. This beer had a lot of grapefruit going on, but also had some other cool fruity things like blueberry going on. The label featured Zach pointing at you doing his best Uncle Sam (think the “We Want You”) poster.
- Riot- Uh oh, things are getting dicey – a disturbance caused by a group of angry people. The final beer in the series, featuring Galaxy hops from Australia. Tons of tropical fruity tones in this, with some slight earthy notes as well. The label featured Maggie getting her Rosie the Riveter on.
- Chaos – Shit is REALLY getting crazy. The true ending of the Uprising! Series, Chaos was sort of an encore. We brewed this Double IPA with all of the hops we used previously in the other beers. That means Citra/Simcoe/Amarillo/Mosaic/Galaxy hops, all packed into one beer. The label depicts all of the Backlash people being an angry mob essentially. It’s what we do.
Wow that was a lot longer than I was expecting*. Turns out we’ve made a pretty good amount of beers in the past 2.5 years – and now you know why we name them the way we do.
* That’s what she said. Boom.]]>
Yea, we lied. Oops.
Catalyst, Outbreak, and Riot were 3 of our best beers, and we really loved the series as a whole. Featuring some of the most popular hops we could get our hands on was not only fun, but also educational for everyone who wanted to learn how individual varieties of hops compare to one another. And really, when was the last time you learned WHILE DRINKING?
Actually, don’t ‘answer that. People will judge you.
Right after we released Riot (yum), we realized that our little series of 3 beers was incomplete- it needed a little something more. An encore, or curtain call was in order. What better way to ACTUALLY wrap up this series than with a beer which includes every hop that we used along the way? That’s right, we’re cramming all the hops that made those beers individually awesome into this next one, and we’re calling it Chaos.
We’re actually cheating a bit on this one and including hops from Salute as well. That means this beer will contain the following hops: Citra/Simcoe/Amarillo/Mosaic/Galaxy……
I’ve tasted the beer, and it’s just ridiculous. I’ll post more detailed tasting notes in a few days, but suffice to say that this beer is packed to the gills with fruity goodness: mango, papaya, grapefruit, orange, melon etc.
Expect to start seeing this beer on draft in the next 2 weeks, with bottles following shortly thereafter. Oh and enjoy that .gif – it’s sort of the best thing ever.]]>
I wanted to write this blog post last night, while still fuming in response to what happened. But I decided that I should wait and see how I felt this morning. Well I'm still pissed about the whole thing, so fuck it. Here we go.
I guess it's never been explicitly stated this way, so let me clear the air.
Without Maggie, Backlash would not exist.
This is true for several reasons.
1 – She believed in the idea enough to push us to pursue it past a dream
2 – She literally supports me and allows me to not be homeless while we get Backlash to the point where it can financially support the two of us.
3 – She has helped shape the brand and it's execution to what we know today
I'm sick of people treating her like she's some sort of tagalong. From a quick look at my twitter stream and the responses the above tweet got, it seems to be a trend a lot of our female industry friends have experienced. I'm actually a bit surprised by this, given how many husband/wife duos there are in the craft beer industry here in New England. You would think that, by now, women in craft beer would receive the same respect that men do- but things like what happened last night remind me that we're still far off. It is certainly symptomatic of a larger gender perception problem, but that doesn't mean that we can't fix it in our small little craft beer universe.
But don't get it twisted – special treatment is not only NOT the answer, it just furthers the problem. Really though, if ”women targeted” beers aren't laughably stupid in what they're supposed to achieve – I don't know what is.
Let's try this on for size: Can we please just talk to each other, oh I don't know, as people? Don't assume that because you're speaking with the female half of a male-female duo that she has any less knowledge about certain subject matter or has put in less effort than her counterpart. I promise you, if you do so, you're wrong more often than you're right.
Chances are, if you're reading this, you're not a douchebag. You're probably really cool. A lot of this probably seems painfully obvious to you, but I swear – and ask some women in the industry – it is not.
Have a good weekend – Go Sox.
Hey you crazy bastards – once again we're humbled by the awesome reaction to our latest beer, Outbreak. We've been getting a lot of requests as to where you can find, and consequently drink, Outbreak on draft. Here's a list of bars that have purchased kegs so far (in no particular order):
We'll keep you updated with more locations as we find out. Drink up!
Appearance: Deep golden/orange color with an inviting off white head that sticks to the glass after each sip. Same color as all of the other DIPAs we’ve done so far.
Nose: Oh boy. This is a “smell ya across the room” kinda beer. I popped the top on this bomber and then took a few pictures from several feet away and could definitely smell this beer while I was doing so. This beer is SO aromatic. I would say almost on par with Salute. Mosaic hops can be hard to describe for me. Some people have said “citra on steroids”, and while it certainly shares a dimension with citra (hints of tropical fruit/blueberry), it’s not quite as “soft” as how I perceive citra. This beer has more pine to it, although not the dank sort of pine quality you might come to expect from a Simcoe. This hop balances somewhere between tropical sweet and sharp pine. It’s actually quite beautiful- very very fragrant enticing.
Flavor: Man, this beer just gets better. Massive waves of hop flavor. It starts up front with that blueberry/tropical fruit softness then starting at the mid-palette it begins to dry out and transition into a piney semi-sticky flavor, though never overbearing or abrasive. The finish is crisp, with a light lingering coat of resin on the tongue that makes you want to take another sip. This beer is, once again, bone dry.
Mouthfeel: Light/Medium carbonation keeps the hop impression in this beer bright and lively. The mouthfeel sort of evolves along with the taste as you drink it. At the beginning of the sip it seems like it may be on the sweeter side, but as you finish the sip the beer dries out completely and leaves behind that lingering resiny grapefruity flavor. All in all, the mouthfeel is considerably light and dry.
Overall: This beer is a lot of fun, and this hop is amazing. It truly needs to be experienced to be understood. It borrows certain characteristics from other hops, but when presented together makes for a unique experience. Hop heads will love this beer. Remember, drink it fresh!
Here we are, in the twilight of our second year as a beer company. It’s hard to comprehend the fact that its already been that long. The weeks just kind of run together, one beer fest becomes another, sprinkle in tastings every so often, bar promotions, an absurd amount of hand labeling, specialty batches, a healthy(?) amount of hangovers, and there you have it — 2 years.
While it hasn’t been easy, it has however been incredibly fun and valuable to me. The support of everyone who drinks our beer and cares about us as a tiny little company is allowing me to live out my dream. I just got the chills typing that. It’s not lost on me just how special of a statement that is, and just to be able to say it makes me among the luckiest people in the world.
If you follow me on twitter, you know it might not always come across with that same token of gratitude. Truth be told, I bitch. Hey at least I can admit it. Sometimes in the midst of a marathon session at a beer fest, I lose sight of the fact that at that very moment I am doing what I’ve always wanted to do — I’m sharing my beer with people from all over the place. And worse yet, sometimes, in that zombie-like state I tend to enter just a couple hours before the end of a fest, I just kind of nod and shake off the praise people give me about the beer.
Wow I’m making myself seem like a total douchebag. I swear that wasn’t the intent. What I’m getting at is that I’m incredibly grateful for where I/we are as a company today, and the road we took to get here — even if I gripe occasionally. I’ve said it before, but sometimes it just takes a small milestone along the way to really give the bigger picture some perspective. I guess our second birthday is proving that to me right now as I write this.
I’m always trying to think of cool ways to keep everyone interested and happy with our stuff. Brewing a variety of beers is the name of the game these days, and no doubt it’s probably the best time ever to be a craft beer drinker. My personal catalog of beer recipes runs insanely deep, so there will be no shortage of new brews from us in the near future. However, I think that our second birthday calls for something old, not something new.
If you’ve been following us since we started, you’ll remember that our very first batch of Groundswell was completely different than the beer you can buy/drink today. Being the first time I’ve ever scaled a recipe up from a test batch to full production volume, some things were lost in translation. The beer was very good, don’t get me wrong, and it even got a ton of great feedback. But it just wasn’t what I was shooting for. So a few months later I made what was at the time a pretty unpopular decision to scrap the entire recipe and, ultimately, the outcome was the Groundswell of today — a beer that I am 100% content with. The original Groundswell became a ghost, something we rarely think or talk about.
For our second birthday, I’ve re-brewed one batch of the original Groundswell for all those people who loved it just the way it was. We’ll be calling this incarnation Groundswell “Redux”. I’m extremely excited because it’s been just as long for me as it has for you in terms of the last time I tasted that recipe, and I’m looking forward to tasting it next to the current Groundswell. I think now that we’ve nailed that recipe down, I’ll actually be able to appreciate the original brew a lot more. I’ll let myself enjoy Redux for what it is, rather than critique it for how it fell short of my expectations. It’s currently bubbling away in primary, but should be ready in a few weeks. No doubt this will confuse the shit out of people who haven’t read this, but hey that’s part of the fun.
I’m hoping you’ll all come out and celebrate our anniversary with us and take a little trip down memory lane. We’ll be announcing events in the coming weeks.
See you guys soon!
*Note: This information is by nature about a week old, some of these places (bottle shops specifically) may no longer have Catalyst in stock. To be safe, call ahead.
*Another Note: The On Premise locations listed below have bought Catalyst, but the kegs may not be on draft yet. Again, give them a call to be sure. Or go and try to kick the keg of whatever needs to finish before Catalyst goes on. That’s always a fun time.
On Premise (Bars/Restaurants):
Off Premise (Bottle Shops):
A few weeks ago we announced that we were going to let the Double IPA train roll with something we’re calling the Uprising! series. The concept is to basically keep the malt bill from Salute the same and feature different hops in each brew. Through some serious underground-hop-market-hustle we were able to stockpile some really killer hop varieties, so we figured we would use this opportunity to show them off. The names of these beers are going to be Catalyst, Outbreak, and Riot — in that order — a naming convention which kind of keeps with our core-beer-naming-theme.
Catalyst is the first one and it features primarily the Amarillo hop. Here’s what you can expect:
One more note — I understand it will be a lot of people’s first response to compare Catalyst to Salute. Please try to judge Catalyst on its own merit. The combination of Citra and Simcoe that I used in Salute is going to be very difficult to top given the current palette for IPA flavor — that’s not to short sell the Amarillo hop, which is also insanely popular, but that “tropical fruit” thing is very hot right now and its nearly impossible to get that profile without the Citra hop. These different flavor profiles are by design. Enjoy this beer for what it is, not what it isn’t.
Appearance: pours a hazy deep golden/orange color, big fluffy pearl white head at first recedes to a smaller layer of bubbles which hang around for a good while.
Aroma: the aroma in this beer is softer than Salute. I get a delicate grapefruit citrus note with some vague malt sweetness blended in. A bit floral, a tiny bit dank, and a tiny bit of alcohol mixed in there. Give it a second to warm up and you’ll be rewarded with some very pleasant aromatics, albeit subdued if comparing against Salute — which you shouldn’t be.
Taste: the first sip of this beer grips the sides of your tongue — its very firm at the start. It almost shoots to the back of your jaw and makes you gleak. I realize that is supremely subjective and may be hard to understand, but the sensation is similar to the experience your mouth might put you through just before you bite into a slice of grapefruit at breakfast. This wave of sensory overload only lasts a brief moment however, like one large wave of flavor, the hops are in and out relatively quickly. Somewhere in mid pallet there is a hint of maltiness cutting through the grapefruit storm, but in the finish the hops win out with that very familiar faint grapefruit pithy bitterness that you may remember from Salute — but don’t compare the two, remember!?
Mouthfeel: Like most west coast style double ipas, the malt profile here is intentionally minimal. This beer is super dry, with hints of booze as it warms. Love it or hate it, it’s just how this beer was meant to be. 90% hops, 10% malt.
Overall: This beer truly is an anthem to the Amarillo hop. Tons of grapefruit citrus with very little lingering bitterness. It’s deceivingly quaffable. There’s always room for improvement however, and I would love for this beer to be slightly more aromatic. Spoken like a true hop junkie. Sigh. If only there were more Amarillo hops to go around.
Everyone check your couch cushions and let me know!
Hot damn, it’s been a while huh? After declaring our silent approach to the post Boston Marathon bombing frenzy, I guess we got pretty busy and neglected to keep you all in the loop. So in an effort to make sure we’re all on the same page, we’re going to rattle off some of the bigger ticket items that we’re excited about in the coming months. Hold onto your asses, here we go.
Pimp Our Website: As you’ve probably noticed by now — if not, take a look around –our website has gotten a pretty dramatic facelift. We felt like it was overdue, and this one seems to feel more professional (despite all of us at Backlash essentially being children).
Convergence: Once upon a time, we had the intention of keeping Convergence, our Super Saison brewed with rye malt, around for the entire year. Saison in general is a growing style of beer, and you all seem to enjoy the hell out of Convergence. However, last year we ran into some yeast issues and decided to pull a “hard reset” and figure our shit out before re-releasing it. A few changes later, we’re proud to announce that Convergence is back now, and it’s here to stay. This brings our portfolio of year-round beers up to 3 beers (alongside Groundswell andDeclaration).
Double IPA Series: We were seriously humbled by the response to our first American style beer – Salute. We’re grateful to have been able to make such an awesome beer and then to have you guys drink it like your mouths were on fire. To keep all our crazy hop head fans happy, we’re going to be rocking out a few other Double IPAs — we’re calling it our “Uprising! Series”.
Here’s the concept: The malt backbone of Salute will remain the same – instead, we’re going to rotate through a few different hops/combinations of hops. In no particular order, you can expect your mouths to be assaulted with Amarillo, Simcoe, Centennial, Galaxy, Mosaic and other relatively new/sexy hops. We’re pretty goddamn pumped about these beers, the first one, which we’re calling “Catalyst” will hit shelves and taps in about two weeks. Here’s a tiny sliver of the new label that we’re still tweaking as a sneak peek. Can you guess who that character is?
Belgian style beer fans, fear not. We’ve got some stuff coming up for you as well. Stay tuned!
Far from it actually – I’m my own biggest critic.
As such, I’m constantly looking for ways to improve our beers. Thankfully I haven’t had to do much so far, aside from an overhaul of Groundswell about a year ago. Since then our recipes have been set and unchanged. Recently however, I have grown a little weary of shelf life regarding Declaration.
Like any IPA, Declaration changes pretty dramatically with time. Hop aroma/flavor unfortunately fade rather quickly. In a perfect world all the Declaration on shelves would be “fresh”, but that’s realistically not how things happen. Also, in a perfect world, a consumer would look at the “born on” date we print on each label and understand the implications of time on the quality of a beer- again that’s not how things pan out all the time.
Fresh Declaration is a really special beer- but I know for a fact people have picked up bottles that have some age on them, tried it for the first time and been underwhelmed. It’s a light beer malt-wise, so not a whole lot of hops go into it. One would *hope* that retailers would keep a close eye on the born-on dates and remove beers from shelves once they are out of code. However, it is not uncommon to see beers sitting on shelves which are 8+ months old (I see this all the time with our own beer).
That, my friends, is fucked up.
There isn’t a whole lot we can do to combat this. We’ll be more diligent about where the beer goes, making sure bottles don’t end up on shelves where they sit for months on end. However, it’s impossible to catch all of these instances. What we can do to improve the shelf life of Declaration, however, is to increase the hop character such that it lasts longer.
This was a really long and drawn out way of saying that Declaration will be a bit more hoppy in the coming months. We’re increasing the flavor/aroma additions and the dry hopping schedule. We’re telling you this in an effort to remain extremely transparent with everything that happens with us and our beer. If you pickup some Declaration in the coming months and notice a difference, it wasn’t a mistake.
As always, please feel free to scan the QR code on the bottle and let us know what you think of the beer and the changes overall.
Or if you’re lazy just email us at StandUp@BacklashBeer.com