Abner Weed Amber Ale
One 12 oz bottle, $1.80, 5.5% ABV
Purchased at Harvest Wines, West Hartford
I spent a lot of time dissecting this beer’s provenance on the intro page. If you haven’t read it, you should. If only to learn why there’s a town in California named Weed and how it relates to this “Connecticut” beer.
As I wrote on that page, the beer you see pictured here WAS brewed in Connecticut and Cheshire, Connecticut residents Danny and Michael Weed reap (most of) the benefits of its sales. But there’s a big but here… And that’s the fact that the Connecticut Weeds pretty much only own the local rights to the beer’s name.
In short, Mt. Shasta Brewing in Weed, CA make Abner Weed Amber Ale – named after the town’s namesake and having nothing at all to do with marijuana-tinged marketing efforts. Fine. The Cheshire Weeds recognized the marketability of their unique last name and entered into partnership with the Californians.
They would brew the same beer, using the same recipe, displaying the same logo and catchphrases (“Try Legal Weed!” and “A Friend in Weed is a Friend Indeed!”) but with a Connecticut distribution network, which Mt. Shasta doesn’t have. They have their family name in their back pocket and a contract with Hooker Brewing in Bloomfield to make the beer and voila, we have a new “Connecticut” with quotation marks beer!
(I owe a debt of gratitude to The New Haven Register for a lot of this fascinating information.)
All of that is a weird set of fortuitous circumstance – none of which I care too much about. What bothers me is the contract brewer credo of trying to be so hush-hush about where their beer is brewed. Hey Weeds, this is Connecticut. There are only a handful of us who follow this industry closely. By law, you have to print where your beer is brewed on the label. When it says “Bloomfield, CT” that means Thomas Hooker Brewing. When it says “Pawcatuck, CT” that means Cottrell. It’s not hard to figure out.
So when you are interviewed for an article that says, “Abner Weed Amber Ale is being brewed in Bloomfield via a deal in which Michael Weed is leasing capacity from an existing Connecticut brewer that he declined to name,” you just sound kind of silly.
(I don’t wish to pick on Mr. Weed here – this type of weird denial is epidemic in contract-brewer-land. Although, since Weed in Connecticut is a contracted contract brew, I guess it’s sort of novel in a way.)
But I do have to pick on Mr. Weed for one thing. You may have read this on the first Weed page, but I can’t get over the terrible stock photo photoshopping on the CT Weed site. It’s downright funny. It’s no better than my effort with Snoop.
So… the beer. It’s good! I cynically thought to myself that it should be good because surely Mt. Shasta is one of those small craft breweries in the northwest that have this whole small batch thing figured out. But according to a bunch of Beer Advocate reviewers, Mt. Shasta still have a ways to go. (My mantra regarding breweries with wacky marketing plans is that they usually seem to spend more time on wacky marketing than perfecting their beer.)
But I really liked the Weed Amber Ale. Perhaps I was expecting crap – I drank it before I knew the full story – and was pleasantly surprised? I don’t know… but I was impressed with the flavor profile. I’ve had a few Connecticut amber ales and dare I say it, but Weed’s amber is perhaps the best.
I’ll just leave it up to you to decide if it’s a Connecticut amber or not.
Mt. Shasta Brewing says:
Our beautiful Amber named Abner is a session brew dedicated to California State Senator Abner Weed, founder of the town in which we craft our delicious brews. The red colored ale has a stable, tan head, and an aroma of mild hops with overtones of carmel and roasted malt. This rich ale starts sweet and malty, then progresses into a light bitter flavor. Slightly thick on the palate, our Amber at 5.5% ABV has a balanced bitterness resulting from a combination of Chinook and Cascade hops. It ends clean with a light lingering bitterness at 43 IBUs. We raise our glasses in celebration to our town Weed!”
Lastly, I think people misspell “caramel” too much. When the CT Weeds lifted this same paragraph on their website (url is TryLegalWeed.com), they didn’t bother to correct it there either.
Overall Rating: B+
Rating vs. Similar style: A-