Here I am, only a day or two into this Notebook and already I’m set to write about a relatively minor issue that has come up in every day drinking. It’s the heart of “blogging”, which I had hoped to avoid with this broadly focused feature. Anyways, I was perusing the selection at Downtown Wine and Spirits here in Somerville yesterday and came across a beer I thoroughly enjoyed last year, the Mendocino Winter Ale. While I’m not generally drawn to Mendocino products, last year’s Winter Ale was a tightly packed Double IPA smartly priced at around $6.99. So I grabbed a six-pack and decided I wanted a malty companion, so I also selected the excellent Smuttynose Winter Ale.
After getting home, I was a bit concerned that I couldn’t see through the bottle for sediment. My suspicions were confirmed when I poured the beer into a glass and it came out pitch black. My Double IPA had transformed itself into an oatmeal stout. By all label appearances, this should have been the Double IPA. A closer inspection revealed a new neck label that in the world’s tiniest letters noted the beer was an 7-percent ABV oatmeal stout. Putting aside the issue of why anyone would brew such a ridiculously high-alcohol oatmeal stout, I feel a bit cheated. The stout is perfectly fine, but I wanted and expected the IPA. It’s clear that Mendocino is simply reusing leftover main labels and six-packs containers (lamely and vaguely “celebrating over 20 years of brewing excellence) and just adding new, hard to distinguish neck labels. Shame on them. I want my DIPA.
Mendocino changes the Winter beer each year, with little indication to stlye on the labels. Thankfully they do show the year clearly. To years it was also a big stout/porter.