White Hatter

Maker: New Holland, Holland, Michigan, USAWhite Hatter

Style: Spiced wheat pale ale

Vintage: 2012

ABV: 5.5%

Appearance: Golden with a bit of froth at the top, not much in the way of head.

Nose: Subdued. Some malt and hops with a touch of tropical fruit.

On the palate: Full bodied and hoppy. On first sip tastes like an IPA but then shifts into a mildly fruity wheat flavor.

Finish: The bitterness and the fruit fade into a lingering soapy taste.

Parting words: I’ve been a fan of New Holland for quite some time and a search of the archives will reveal numerous positive reviews of their beers and spirits. I just can’t do it with this one. It’s a part of their vintage series of riffs on their very successful Mad Hatter IPA. I have enjoyed all I have had until this one. It could be spoiled, but one would expect a beer that is vintage dated (and kept in a fridge) to be capable of aging for at least a year with positive results. At any rate, it pains me to say this, but White Hatter is not recommended.

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El Mole Ocho

Maker: New Holland, Holland, Michigan, USAMole-no-vintage-front-021412-front

Style: Spiced ale

Vintage: 2011

ABV: 8.4%

Appearance: Cloudy chocolate brown

Nose: Chocolate milk, tiny bit of red pepper.

On the palate: Sweet and medium-bodied. Hot chocolate, chipotle, roasted malt.

Finish: Fairly dry, all things considered. Tabasco sauce, chocolate syrup.

Parting words: This was an enjoyable beer. Not anything close to a go-to, but oddly refreshing and enjoyable after supper on a cold winter night. I haven’t had any other beers spiced like this so I can’t speak to how it compares to others like it, but it is recommended. Probably best to drink at no older than 1 year old, though.

Freshwater Rum: Huron White

Maker: New Holland, Holland, Michigan, USA

Style: White (unaged) rum.

ABV: 40%

Appearance: Clear with long sinewy legs.

Nose: Raw spirit, lavender, dried wildflowers.

On the palate: Medium bodied and sweet. Simple syrup, anise.

Mixed: Performs well in all applications tested: Rum & Coke, Cuba Libre, Mojito.

Parting words: This is a simple spirit, so it’s getting a simple review. Does everything a white rum is supposed to do, and does it well. The price is high, compared to the mainstream competition ($25) but if you don’t mind shelling out a few extra shekels for a micro-distilled product you won’t be disappointed. Just consider it a contribution to New Holland’s future endeavors. Huron White is recommended.

Ichabod Pumpkin Ale

Maker: New Holland, Holland, Michigan, USA

Style: Ale with Pumpkin and spices

ABV: 5.2%

Appearance: Dark Amber with a frothy head

Nose: A bit of spice, pumpkin pie.

On the palate: medium bodied. Pumpkin, allspice, nutmeg, bit of ginger.

Finish: Fizzy, slightly bitter with more spice. Ginger, specifically.

Parting words: Ichabod was one of the first pumpkin beers on the market, and still one of the very best. It’s not overly sweet or overly spiced. One can actually taste pumpkin not just pumpkin pie spice or sweetness. It’s very food friendly, especially when compared to the competition and does not have too much alcohol. Ichabod comes highly recommended.

Oak Aged Hatter

Maker: New Holland, Holland, Michigan, USA

Style: Barrel-aged IPA

Vintage: 2011

ABV: 5.1%

Appearance: Burnt orange with a creamy head.

Nose: Vanilla whipped topping, hops, bergamot, hops.

On the palate: Medium-bodied and creamy. Orange toffee, key lime pie, lemon chiffon pie, lemon thyme.

Finish: Vanilla, bitter hops, sweetness balanced with pleasant hoppy bitterness.

Parting Words: In another sign of how out of touch I am with my own generation, I’m not a huge IPA fan. In general, I find adding metric tons of hops to beer to be obnoxious. Some of the hop bombs that garner praise these days, I find undrinkable. I do like Mad Hatter, though, so I had high expectations for this beer.

It did not disappoint. The time in “Kentucky Oak” (not a bourbon or rye barrel, apparently. Corn or wheat whiskey maybe?) has turned a very good IPA into a symphonic masterpiece. The barrel notes are a sweet, creamy counterpoint to the citric, bitter hops. No matter how many times I have gone back to this one, I taste something else. Something good. Oak-Aged Hatter is highly recommended.

Cabin Fever

Maker: New Holland, Holland, Michigan, USA

Style: Brown Ale

ABV: 6.25%

Appearance: Dark Coffee Brown

Nose: meaty, cocoa

On the palate: Thick, caramel brownies, dark chocolate, brown butter.

Finish: long and pleasantly bitter and chocolately

Parting Words: This is a delicious, luscious brown ale. Loads of chocolate and caramel, similar to many barrel-aged ales, but not overly boozey. I wish I could say more, but this is just a damn good beer. Cabin Fever is highly recommended.

Full Circle

Maker: New Holland

Style: Kölsch

ABV: 4.9%

Appearance: Bright gold with a foamy head.

Nose: Malt, some hoppy bitterness, light and lively. Similar to American pilsners.

On the palate: crisp, lightly hoppy with big malt character.

Finish: Bitter, with very little in the way of sweetness.

Parting words: Full Circle is something I drink more of in the summertime that the winter, but it is refreshing anytime. It tastes like what American beers like Bud, Miller and Rolling Rock should taste like. Fresh and clean with some light bitterness that goes well with spicey foods. A well-executed Kölsch. Recommended.

Double Down Brewer’s Whiskey

Maker: New Holland, Michigan, USA

Type: Straight Malt Whiskey

Age: 6 mos. (in “small” barrels)

Proof: 90 (45% ABV)

Appearance: Dark copper with thick legs.

Nose: A faint hint of leather up front, like walking into a furniture showroom. Sweet black licorice, caramel, a bit of alcohol.

On the palate: Full, voluptuous body. Like a porter on the palate. Lots of licorice, some more caramel and hard candy, maybe a little horehound.

Finish: same notes as on the palate, but with some slightly bitter clove and Chinese five-spice.

Parting words: This was the first entry into New Holland’s Brewer’s Whiskey series of small barrel, small bottle releases. Some of the acrid nastiness that very small barrels can throw into the nose is absent here. Instead, it’s like drinking a very spicy porter or sucking on black anise candy. A lovely whiskey, and one that is good sippin’ for the holidays. Highly Recommended.

Dragon’s Milk

Maker: New Holland, Holland, Michigan, USA

Style: Barrel-aged stout

Vintage: 2011

ABV: 10%

Appearance: Dark chocolate with a mildly frothy tan head.

Nose: Sweet, cereal milk, milk chocolate.

On the palate: Full-bodied, bitter at first, then sweeter. Café mocha, vanilla and amaretto, with a bit of bite from the alcohol and carbonation.

Finish: Sweet and pleasantly sticky fading very slowly to a smoky bitterness. The sticky sweetness continues to linger on the lips for a long time.

Parting words: This is a delicious beer. Unlike some other barrel-aged beers, Dragon’s Milk strikes a balance between barrel character and beer character. This is a quality stout first. Instead of being covered up, those stout characteristics are complemented by the wood tannins and the sweet vanilla and liquer flavors coming from the barrel. Dragon’s Milk is a flawlessly executed barrel-aged stout. Highly recommended.

Zeppelin Bend Straight Malt Whiskey

Maker: New Holland, Holland, Michigan, USA

Age: NAS

Proof: 90 (45% ABV)

Appearance: Burnt orange with long sticky legs.

Nose: Prunes, cardamom, ginger, mace, cocoa

On the Palate: Full-bodied and sweet upon first entrance. Heavily spiced mincemeat pie, and then red wine chocolate truffles dusted with Dutch process cocoa powder. Yes those exist.

Finish: Hot, but then a dry chocolaty sweetness that too quickly fades.

Mixed: A highball of Zeppelin Bend and club soda on the rocks is pretty good, even if it does taste a bit like a watered down Choc-Cola. Other classic Scotch cocktails work well, too. A rusty nail has a nice bitter, spicey note that balances out the honey liqueur nicely, and a Rob Roy is quite good, even if it’s not quite sure if it’s a Rob Roy or a Manhattan.

Parting Words: American straight malt whiskey is has not been very popular historically, and as a result has not been made much by American distillers. Like a rye or bourbon, American malt must be aged in new charred oak barrels and must have a mash bill of at least 51% of the grain in question, malted barley. But where Big Whiskey saw no reason to tread, a few micro distillers saw an opportunity. Stranahan’s in Colorado led the way, followed by (among others) Pritchard’s in Tennesee, and New Holland in Holland Michigan. Bourbon and rye still excite me more than any other American whiskeys, but of the American straight malts I’ve tried, Zeppelin Bend is the best. This is another case in which a micro is doing what a micro should be doing: offering interesting spirits that the big boys don’t.