Happy American Craft Beer Week everybody! I stopped by my local beer distributor recently to grab a case of something to celebrate with and ended up choosing a Full Pint Brewing Company sampler. As I scoured the shelves for something new, nothing really caught my eye. It was then that I spotted a beat up mess of cardboard in the corner with a Full Pint emblem on it from Pittsburgh, PA. I’m usually a sucker for inventive packaging and nice artwork, but for some reason I had a premonition that this ugly duckling of a case was an underdog waiting for its chance to shine. A real Cinderella story was in the making.
When I looked into Full Pint I found a pretty interesting story. They are a “collaborative brewery featuring some of the Pittsburgh area’s finest brewers and beer nerds.” The collaboration includes brewers from North Country Brewing in Slippery Rock, PA, Johnstown Brewing Company, The River Town Pour House, and John Harvard’s in Philadelphia, PA. Sounds like a pretty solid brain trust to me.
Full Pint’s sampler offers six different varieties in the case rather than the customary four. The sampler features All In Amber, Hobnobber Session Ale, Chinookie IPA, White Lightning Belgian White, Perc E Bust Coffee Porter, and Rumpelpilsner. I will give a brief rundown of the first three (All In Amber, Hobnobber, and Chinookie IPA).
Why not start with Full Pint’s inaugural brew? Full Pint’s All In Amber is their first collectively brewed beer. As the bottle puts it, five brewers went “all in” to create Full Pint and it all started with this amber. All In Amber features a rich amber color and thin head. Sweet malt flavors dominate the 5.8% ABV amber with a frothy mouthfeel and a very mild hop in the finish. All In Amber came across as sweet and syrupy to me. I usually look for a little more balance, but if you like malt you’ll like All In Amber.
Hobnobber is a single hopped session ale that pours a deep, dark amber with a lasting head and a malty aroma. It is a strongly carbonated, 4.0% ABV session ale that lacks the malt flavor you would expect from the aroma. Hobnobber starts with a punch of carbonation and finishes dry and somewhat bitter. According to the bottle, Hobnobber changes the hop variety each time it is brewed. Full Pint directs you to their website for more information on Hobnobber, but when I got there Hobnobber was nowhere to be found. I like my session ales on the sweeter, smoother side (see Yards Brawler). This batch of Hobnobber is a little too aggressive for me to consider it a session I’d have a couple more of, but, given the mystery surrounding this session ale, it could be much different in other batches or it may not exist any more.
Chinookie IPA is a thick, hazy India Pale Ale with a thin head and floral aroma. Chinookie is a very well balanced, 6.2% ABV IPA that is hopped four times throughout the brewing process and then dry hopped. It features a crisp, refreshing start that eases you into the hops. The real hop bite comes in at the finish accompanied by a hint of sweetness. This is my kind of IPA, more floral than dry, refreshing not filling. Chinookie guides you through the intensely hopped IPA experience rather than slapping you in the face with it.
So far, my Full Pint experience hasn’t exactly been the rags to riches story I was hoping for, but the Chinookie IPA has restored my faith in this sampler going into the second half. I would think of this as less ugly duckling and more Goldilocks. One beer was too sweet. Another was too dry. The IPA was juuuust right. If I had to rank the three in order from my favorite to least favorite, Chinookie is at the top by a large margin followed by All In Amber then Hobnobber. Stay tuned for the second half of the sampler and more lame fairy tale references.
Tim Meyers (Tim@GoodHopBadHop.com)