HOLLAND – New Holland Brewing Company has come to known some pretty diverse and interesting beers over the years, offering everything from a Golden Cap seasonal ale to the ever-popular Dragon’s Milk. But on Saturday, New Holland played a different tune. In celebration of its Mad Hatter India Pale Ale, New Holland released four new “hatters” to the public during its 14th annual Mad Hatter Birthday Bash.
The event featured nine “hatters” in all, and we were able to try out five of them. Each offered a particular spin on the traditional Mad Hatter, introducing some new flavors and giving familiar flavors a different spin on things.
Centered around a decked-out “Alice in Wonderland” themed brewery, we tried the Black Hatter, Smoked Hatter, Farmhouse Hatter, Sour Hatter and Oak Aged Hatter. And despite the obvious IPA undertones, all five of the beers seemed to bring something different to the table.
The Black Hatter (5.5% ABV) retained the somewhat bitter aftertaste I’ve come to expect from an IPA. Its dark color, though, was refreshing and a great way to start off the night. And like the Black Hatter, the Farmhouse Hatter (5% ABV) still had a hint of bitterness with an underlying IPA taste.
But that’s when the similarities seemed to stop.
The Oak Aged Mad Hatter (7.2% ABV) had no bitter taste to it at all — in fact, it was smooth, refreshing and held a slight caramel aftertaste. It’s woodsy-like flavor was accompanied by a somewhat fruity flavor and golden color. This was definitely the most rustic of the night.
And like the Oak Aged, the Smoked Hatter (5.2% ABV) was equally interesting. Being a newbie to smoked brews, I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of flavor the beer let out. It wasn’t overpowering or bitter, and had a nice, relaxed flavor to it.
By far, though, the favorite of the night had to be the Sour Hatter (8.5% ABV). It was the only beer that was served to us in a flute glass (the rest were in standard pints), and was very refreshing and smooth. It’s dark brown color gave way to its slight cider taste and somewhat fruity smell. It was crisp on the tongue, but smooth thereafter. My immediate thought was that it reminded me of those sour candies I used to eat as a kid — but much more refined. It was a great cap to the night.
In addition to the five we tried, New Holland also served up its regular Mad Hatter, Imperial Hatter, Oak Aged Imperial Hatter and Rye Hatter. Surrounded by servers who were decked out in “Alice in Wonderland” costumes, everything seemed to fit together for the event — including the absolutely mad birthday cake.