Friday Froth: Big Fuzzy Double And The Harpooned Whale, New England Brewing

James Gribbon

Feel free to argue with me in the comments, but New England Brewing Company is currently the biggest whale in Connecticut. Unlike the white whale which drove Ahab mad and dragged him to his doom, no number of obsessive trackers will soon be bringing it down. NEBCO finished doubling the capacity of its brewery over the winter and in short order released a huge batch of its more sought after beers to multiple bars just in time to coincide with St. Patrick's day. 

My base of operations that night was Walrus+Carpenter in Black Rock because they were having a Van Morrison tribute band, and the list of things I will fight you over is not long, but it includes "Astral Weeks." I was several Supernauts and a long awaited Gandhi-Bot deep when I sensed a disturbance in the force, as if thousands of apps had fired up at once, and looked up to watch a steady trickle of bros and bro-ettes flow in, order no drinks, and peruse not a single menu. They just waited. These, then, were the Untappd zombies. Cannibalistic brain-eating being so 20th century, the horde was utterly uninterested in music, roast pig, fried chicken, or a tap list filled with excellent beer - they wanted cheeeeeck-iiiiinnnnsss. It was five minutes before the hour, and the tap was about to open on Fuzzy Baby Ducks. Thumbs hovered - twitching, aching - over phones.

I actually kept track of the time, and it was twenty minutes exactly from when the FBD tap was pulled until it was pushed back for only the briefest pause. Now: Fuzzy Baby Ducks - a slightly hazy, all Citra-hopped IPA with delicate malt, a creamy head, and a floral, juicy aroma and flavor - is, like pretty much everything NEBCO makes, a world class beer. It is another reason to be happy with the disproportionate amount of outstanding beer produced in our tiny state. Fuzzy is also rare as IQ in a radio call in show, both because it is not made constantly, like Sea Hag or 668, and because trophy seeking behavior means it lasts as long in a keg as an Egyptian wheat field does in a locust swarm. 

What it is not, is worth giving yourself tunnel vision just so you can suck down as many as possible then split (mostly without tipping, according to the bartenders) so you can pursue your next internet badge. In all their whale-seeking, the zombies had completely missed the rarest beer in the bar, Gold Stock Ale, which is brewed only once a year in the gloomiest days of winter, and is the only NEBCO beer still brewed from their days at the original location in SoNo. Gold Stock is a modestly hopped, soft and malty pale ale, and it was invented by one Phil Markowski, current head brewer at Two Roads, with an assist from Ron Page (now former) head brewer at City Steam. This batch was made considerably more delicious, tannic, (and limited edition), by a stay in new white oak barrels prior to being served at W+C. Hiding in plain sight, the chasers completely missed it.  

Which brings us to the newest whale to be calved by NEBCO: Big Fuzzy Double. BFD, or Double Fuzzy Ducks, is a DIPA based on Fuzzy Baby Ducks. That's it. It is slightly darker than FBD - yellow with a little more green - and has a slightly thicker head. The aroma is the same - all herbs and orange blossom - and the aroma carries over into the flavor, which is just a more intense version of FBD, as is the alcohol content, which steps up to 8.2% from 6.2. 

Is more better? If that's your mantra, then this is your boozy-ass hucklberry. BFD is delicious, but you knew that. It is no sea-change from Fuzzy Baby Ducks: it can't be with the same malt and hop bill. It's more FBD; it's likewise considerably tastier than more common macro-micros like Sam Adams Rebel, and it's ludicrously better than draft day busts like Guinness Nitro IPA, but it is not worth manic, single-minded pursuit at the expense of all else, Ahab.

 See you out there.